Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Notes & Highlights

Brief Summary

This book discusses ten ways to get your work noticed online. It dives into the different ways you can promote yourself as an artist, the do’s and don’ts when it comes to people and sharing your work.

Why I Read This Book

I think there is a big taboo to sharing your work with the world as if what you do needs to be secret. I feel like there’s also a lot of pressure on creators to come up with the final perfectly photographed painting or illustration and post it carefully on social media which doesn’t seem close to how things work in the world. Life is messy, ideas don’t develop within a day and work doesn’t get produced with one iteration. I felt like this book might give me some new insights as to how a creator can share their work and get discovered.

My Top Aha Moments

The best way to the started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.

When shown an object, or given a food, or shown a face, people’s assessment of it — how much they like it, how valuable it is — is deeply affected by what you tell them about it.

The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough. It’s very important to not quit prematurely.

You can’t be content with mastery, you have to push yourself to become a student again.


  1. 🟨 Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of working.
  2. 🟨 If you just focus on getting really good, people will come to you.
  3. 🟨 Creativity is always in some sense a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.
  4. 🟨 Amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results.
  5. 🟨 Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing.
  6. 🟨 Share what you love and the people who love the same things will find you.
  7. 🟨 Talk about the things you love.
  8. 🟨 In this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.
  9. 🟨 If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about you have to share.
  10. 🟨 A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work. They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome.
  11. 🟨 Share your sketches and works-in-progress, post pictures of your working space, or blog about your influences, inspiration and tools.
  12. 🟨 Human beings are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do.
  13. 🟨 Don’t worry about everything you post being perfect.
  14. 🟨 Don’t post things that you’re not ready for everyone in the world to see.
  15. 🟨 Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work.. and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.
  16. 🟨 Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.
  17. 🟨 If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller.
  18. 🟨 If you want to be interesting you have to be interested.
  19. 🟨 If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you gave to be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector.
  20. 🟨 Being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.
  21. 🟨 Hold on with your teeth, you don’t quit because you don’t know where the next job is coming from.
  22. 🟨 Author Ernest Hemingway would stop in the middle of a sentence at the end of his day’s work so he knew where to start in the morning.
  23. 🟨 Instead of taking a break between projects, waiting for feedback, and worrying about what’s next, use the end of one project to light up the next one.
  24. 🟨 When you feel like you’ve learned whatever there is to learn from what you were doing, change course and find something new to learn so that you can move forward.
  25. 🟨 Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.

Actionable Implementation

Implement the stock and flow concept.

Flow is the posts and tweets. Stock is the content that people discover via search. Turn your flow into stock. A lot of ideas in this book started out as tweets which then became blog posts, which then became book chapters.

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