Birthday Cake

Admiring Austin Kleon, Blackout Poetry & Birthday Cake

“All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

In his bestselling book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon posits that all creative work is derivative. We all learn about the creative process and about finding our own voice by copying, copying the work of those who inspire us. I’ve done this before in portraiture. I’m doing this now as I learn to draw. My son does this in his art, learning to draw by copying images of any number of sea creatures, robots, goblins, or aliens. In school, he creates art that mimics a certain style or genre. But our creations are still uniquely ours.

And so I’m copying again, this time, from Austin Kleon himself. As part of my “Read More, Stare at Screens Less” mission for 2016, I’m creating a little piece of art, a blackout poem, from each book I read. Kleon is the master of the blackout poem and he’s inspired me not just to put black Sharpie to paper and give it a go but also to Show Your Work.

My first poem, Birthday Cake, from a page out of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Inspiration also clearly came from the spate of children’s birthday parties I’ve attended in recent weeks.


Read a Book Instead


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