In this Featured Session, New York Times best-selling author of Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work Austin Kleon joins writer, designer, educator, and founder of Design Matters Debbie Millman for a discussion on how to keep working, keep playing, keep searching, keep giving, keep living, and Keep Going even when the world seems out of control.
In 2010, Kleon published Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poems made by redacting the newspaper with a permanent marker. Millman asked Kleon how he got started on this endeavor. Kleon was fan of two websites that used a heavy amount of redacted information; Post Secret and The Smoking Gun. “The first time I did a blackout poem was to just get an idea for a short story…it was a writing prompt, just like an exercise”. Kleon’s wife suggested he post them on his blog, and the rest is history!
“Anyone who is up on a stage or has any kind of audience who doesn’t acknowledge luck is just diluting themselves. Of course we make our own luck and we make moves that put us in the right place at the right time, but to not acknowledge luck in the process just seems to me a great disservice to everyone.” – Austin Kleon on being an artist
Following the success of Newspaper Blackout, Kleon was invited to give a talk at a college graduation but was unsure of what advice to give. After speaking with his wife, she mentioned that one of the best speeches she heard was a woman listing ten things she wish she’d known in high school. Kleon ran with this idea and titled it Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting Out. After publishing it on his blog and the list went viral garnering millions upon millions of hits. Millman asked if he ever found out who that woman was, and in a shocking twist, Millman revealed it was her. She joked that the book should be called How to Steal from Debbie Millman instead of Steal Like an Artist.
Switching gears to Kleon’s most recent book, Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, the author discussed his influences. “The tone of the country switched really horribly and everyone I know was just distraught. I really needed a manual for myself,” said Kleon. “Keep Going was the first book where I needed it to exit.” Kleon mentioned that all of his previous books were for other people but Keep Going was for him.
Watch the full Featured Session with Austin Kleon and Debbie Millman and check out more videos from SXSW 2019 on our YouTube channel.
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Featured Session: Keep Going with Austin Kleon and Debbie Millman – Photo by Adrianne Schroeder