Had a nutty week in Manhattan at the end of May: we celebrated my wife’s 30th birthday, walked the wonderful High Line, had a lovely, bourbon-soaked dinner at my friend Lauren’s place, gave a talk at the Foursquare and 20×200 offices, ate at Szechuan Gourmet (some of my favorite Chinese food, ever), led an awesome panel with my friends Maud, Maria, and Maris at McNally Jackson, celebrated Steal‘s success and Boom’s impending arrival with my friends at Workman, and gave a talk at the agency 360i. Crazy couple of days…too much, really. Also: it was HOT.
Can’t see the video? Watch it here→
I was so thrilled that my friends and favorite bloggers Maria Popova, Maris Kreizman, and Maud Newton agreed to be part of this panel last week in NYC. It was really really fun, McNally Jackson was packed, and best of all, someone was there filming and has posted a video of the conversation online for your viewing pleasure.
Also, dig these hand-drawn notes by @mosteverybody:
The folks at American Craft Magazine ran an excerpt of Steal Like An Artist in their June/July 2012 issue. It’s quite the remix — unbeknownst to me, they cobbled together the excerpt from several different chapters and even rewrote some transitions. (Which makes me wonder, “Is this still my writing?”) But, it sure does look nice…
My artist’s statement:
When Broome Community College in upstate New York asked me to give a speech at their convocation, I sat down and wrote a list of 10 things I wish I’d heard when I was a college student first starting out. That list became the speech, the speech became a popular blog post and the blog post became my second book, Steal Like an Artist. A lot of people have told me they wanted to hang my handwritten list on their wall, so now, almost one year after I wrote it, we’re releasing the list as a print. I hope you hang it somewhere you want to get good work done.
I love, love, love signing books. I’m used to people saying, “I wish I could draw,” but there have been a surprising number of folks on this tour who remark on my handwriting. Sometimes people just like it, and sometimes people are really surprised that it’s the same handwriting that’s in the book. (A lot of people think that the writing in the book is a font.)
The underlying notion here is that handwriting is somehow magical, that you’re just naturally gifted with lovely penmanship. But as I explain to folks on tour, just as I learned to draw by copying Garfield cartoons, I learned to write by copying other people’s handwriting.
I spent hours copying their handwriting, and when I found Jimi Hendrix’s handwriting, I spent hours copying him, too:
And in my later life, some of my favorite artists have been obsessed with handwriting. Lynda Barry practices the alphabet with her brush everyday as a way to get warmed up. You can see little alphabets pop up in her drawings:
As Lynda says, “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!” There some studies that suggest handwriting boosts the brain and that handwriting helps you learn. It’s a damned shame penmanship isn’t taught more in school.
Anyways, the point is: handwriting, drawing…it’s all marks on the page. The way towards better handwriting is explained in chapter two of Steal: start copying. To paraphrase Jack Kirby, if you like the way a man writes, steal his hand. Copy him. As you’re copying his writing, the copy will mutate, and you’ll find your own hand.
For more on handwriting, check out my “handwriting” tumblr tag→
New York City! Come see me and my friends at McNally Jackson on Wednesday, May 30th at 7PM:
Join Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like an Artist) as he interviews three of his favorite NYC ladies around the topic of collecting and sharing inspiration online. The panel will feature Maud Newton, legendary litblogger; Maria Popova, creator of the stupendously popular blog Brain Pickings; and Maris Kreizman, creator of the hilarious Tumblr blog Slaughterhouse 90210.
I will, of course, be signing copies of Steal Like An Artist. Tell yer friends! Printable poster (PDF) here.
Had a short, fun time in Minneapolis. Heard a bunch of great speakers, sold a bunch of books, and gave the closing talk at the See Change conference, ate some great grub, including an insane pulled pork sandwich at Cap’s Grille on the way to the airport, got to see my friends in town for Confab, drank a few too many whiskeys at Nye’s and sang at the piano bar, and saw some great art at the Walker Art Center out with my friend Chad Hagen.
Milwaukee: Everybody in Milwaukee told me that “I didn’t expect Milwaukee to be so cool” is a standard response from visitors. I was no exception! I gave three talks in one day there—breakfast for Spreenker (check out my friend Mike Rohde’s sketchnotes above), lunch for Translator, and after-dinner for the awesome Boswell Books (dig these sketchnotes from Tim Reynolds). Toured the Art Museum (the museum store was sold out of Steal!), walked the lakefront up to Alterra Coffee, and ate at two great restaurants: Belgian at Benelux in the Third Ward district and the best french onion soup I’ve ever had at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro. Unfortunately, I didn’t drink much beer. Will remedy that this summer when we pass through again on our way to Madison.
Lansing: I only got one night in Lansing, but the crowd at Schuler Books was so great, and I bonded with my cabbie to the airport over our shared love of Elmore Leonard!
Portland: Love, love, loved the gloomy weather. Felt like the kind of weather you could actually get some work done in. Ate a ton of Vietnamese food, a Portland Cream from Voodoo Donuts, an incredible soft-shell sandwich at Clyde Common, drank a bunch of Ninkasi IPA, had my first morning TV taping, gave not one but two talks at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, saw the great John Frame show at the Portland Museum of Art, added a signed copy of Steal to the great library at the Heathman Hotel, shopped Powell’s and the excellent Reading Frenzy, and hung out with a bunch of my friends.
Phoenix: It rained when I was in Phoenix and I had a ton of work to do, so my time there was pretty quiet, but I had some great coal-fire pizza at Pizzeria Bianco, drew Steal in chalk for KPNX, and had a wonderful audience at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe.
San Francisco: I spent four nights in SF and it was my first time in the city, so it probably deserves its own post. Gave a talk at Google, drove around the city with my agent and splendid host, Mr. Ted Weinstein, did the farmer’s market at the Ferry building, walked the Filbert Steps to Coit Tower, window shopped on Valencia Street, drew and gave a talk at Flax Art, ate super burritos and hung out with my friends Lisa, Wendy, Mike, Erika, and Andre, hit the ballpark with the Logsdons, hit City Lights Books, ate a few slices at Golden Boy, had dinner with one of my heroes, the collage artist Winston Smith (that’s a whole story in itself), strolled Chinatown, drank Blue Bottle coffee, drove to Twin Peaks and Golden Gate park, and watched the Pacific.
My Pixar visit could fill up its own post, too. @DrWave gave Ted and me a tour of the campus and the amazing exhibit of Brave pre-production art, then I gave my talk, signed and sold out of books, met another one of my heroes, Steve Purcell, and spent a small fortune in the gift shop.