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‘Real’ Artists Share

– from Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work

Our math teachers (I’m looking at you Allyson Upchurch Tucker, Teresa Rankin, and Michael Whittenburg) taught us to “show your work” in each step to solving a mathematical equation. It permitted us to see the process from beginning to end.

It also helped us prepare for scary acronyms like the ACTs & SATs.

Sure the graphing calculator could do a lot of the work for us, but it didn’t necessarily teach us how we arrived at the final number on our screen.

They (our teachers) encouraged us to write it out by hand.

The hand is tied to memory formation. When we scribbled down an idea in our notebook, it connected to our brain in a way the keyboard could not.

Much like Austin Kleon’s previous book, Steal Like an Artist, his Show Your Work manuscript expressed the importance of sharing, too.

It’s when we give away something, collaborate, take a trip together, that memories are shaped in ways that really stick (sometimes for life).

Much like in mathematics class, we don’t need to be a genius to:

discover something new,

to share our process with others,

remain intentional,

be curious,

tell our stories,


remain honest,

shoulder criticism,

accept gifts,

and not quit.

Don’t ever quit.

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