This is the 6th of 25 books I have committed to read & review this year for a project I’m calling “25/25.” Follow visual updates on Instagram (& Twitter) with the hashtag #read25in25.
This was a fun, quick read so I'll try to mirror that in this post. I'd put Show Your Work in the category of what I call "kickstart books" (others in that category being Do the Work by Steven Pressfield and V is Vulnerable by Seth Godin). "Kickstart books" are concise, direct works that purposefully lead you on an efficient path to one place: making your own work. I've found it important to supplement deeper, more long-form reads with kickstarts like these to keep me active and focused on my work. It's rarely easy to stay on track and keep momentum in making and shipping creative work. It is, after all, called the war of art for a reason. Kleon's Show Your Work focuses specifically on the sharing or shipping of your work. His previous book Steal Like an Artist focuses more on the process of making the work itself.
Sometimes there is an aversion for artists to anything that looks or feels like self-promotion, but I love what Kleon says in the first chapter of his book. This eliminates any thought of self-promotion at least from the early stages of putting your work out into the world to find its audience, your tribe:
The best way to get 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...Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. Don't worry, for now, about how you'll make money or a career off it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you. (19)
So what are you learning? What are you making of it? Share it with us! We'll all be better for it. And I'll certainly be learning, making, and sharing as well...