Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon (SUBMITTED)
York College invited a thief to talk about his profession Thursday night.

He's not a criminal, but he admits he steals -- on a daily basis.

What does he take? Usually newspaper pages.

Austin Kleon, from Austin, Texas, makes a living taking print publications and turning them into poetry.

In his first book, "Newspaper Blackout," he demonstrated how he erases text with a permanent marker, picking and choosing what words are left visible. It's a process he does almost three times a day. While it's a little unconventional, it's not Kleon's use of Sharpies that have made him known -- it's his ideas about the creative process as a whole.

"You don't have to have the perfect situation to be creative," Kleon said. "It's a mindset."

Kleon said there is a misconception in the literary and art world that creative people must be original and thrive in a "creative place." He's stomped out that myth.

Last year, Kleon published "Steal Like An Artist," which is his
manifesto for being creative in the digital age.

In the book, he advises creative minds to start working now, "don't wait until you know who you are to get started."

Kleon, who recently became a dad, said it's possible to live a normal life and still be creative. A studio is not required.

Assistant professor Travis Kurowski teaches most of the creative writing and literature classes at York College and first contacted Kleon a year ago to come speak at the college.

"I first stumbled upon Austin a few years back, when he was brought to Economist Magazine presentation," Kurowski said. "He had a really fascinating, spot-on, correct ideas about what it means to be a writer today."

Kurowski uses both of Kleon's books and his blog in the classroom. He said Kleon's ideas are helpful to discuss with students, because "no artist exists in a vacuum" -- everyone is influenced by what's around them.

Austin Kleon’s book ’Steal Like an Artist.’
Austin Kleon's book 'Steal Like an Artist.' (SUBMITTED)

Now, Kleon is working on his third book, "Show Your Work," about how to develop an audience through public, social media means.

With more than 6,000 likes on his Facebook page and 23,000 Twitter followers, Kleon is actively interacting with an online audience.

"The big idea is instead of worrying about self-promotion and marking and branding yourself, a better approach for young creatives is to focus on your process, get a good process down and share that process publicity," Kleon said.

As for what he's like off-paper and offline, Kleon said his York College lecture will be fun because he said, "I'm an unlikely artist in the fact that I like talking to people."

FlipSide staff

If you go

What: Austin Kleon

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: York College's DeMeester Recital Hall (Evelyn and Earle Wolf Hall)

Details: For more information about the event, visit


To learn more about Austin Kleon, visit


Check out local poetry and enter the poem of the month contest at Versify