by Austin Kleon

Published in 2014 by Workman Publishing.


Reviewed by Tony Burnett

Local writer and visual artist, Austin Kleon’s most recent book, Show Your Work is a reference for young, passionate artists and entrepreneurs who are searching for a basic road map for self promotion.  Because of his youthful outlook and eclectic background, he succeeds at outlining a one-size-fits-all approach to developing a fan / customer base.  The 10 part handbook is presented in an entertaining and conversational tone punctuated by his black and white graphs, art and redacted newspaper poetry.  He also includes a number of quotes from the famous and not-so-famous folks who have developed followings.

The first half of the book will be familiar to those who are established in their field. In addition to the “how-to” Kleon focuses on the “why-to”, allowing the individual to customize the information to the market. He allows for self assessment of every detail of self promotion including quality control, timetables, sharing versus networking, building a public persona and communication skills.
The second part of Show Your Work explains what not to do and how to deal with the inevitable disappointments and rejections that are an organic part of growing a following and ultimately, success.  He explains how to deal with the phenomenon of artistic envy and the fear of failure.
Through his quotes, language and layout he makes it evident that the book is geared toward the social media savvy youth who grew up in the digital age.  There is, however, something here for anyone who wants to make their creative efforts available to a larger market.
This handbook is a must for anyone wanting a quick reference guide to self promotion and avoiding or solving the associated pitfalls.  It’s easy to imagine tattered copies of Show Your Work on the desks of A-list artists and entrepreneurs 10 years from now.
Tony Burnett has been a member of the Writers’ League since 2011. His short stories and poems have been published in over 30 national literary journals. He is working on the manuscript for his second novel. He lives in rural central Texas with his trophy wife, Robin, where he grows organic vegetables and melons.

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