Austin Kleon Biography

The Life and Work of a Creative Mind

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Introduction to Austin Kleon Biography

Austin Kleon is a New York Times bestselling author known for his trilogy of illustrated books that focus on creativity in the digital age. Kleon has authored five books, including Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work!, and Keep Going. The author also wrote Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poems by redacting the newspaper with a permanent marker.

This Austin Kleon biography is a fascinating exploration of the life and work of a talented artist and writer. Whether you’re an aspiring creative looking for inspiration or simply interested in learning more about one of today’s most innovative thinkers, Kleon’s books will surely provide valuable insights and advice.

Early Life

Austin Kleon was born on June 16, 1983,  and grew up in the rural town of Lancaster in Circleville, Ohio, United States of America.

His father was an associate professor at Ohio State University, and his mother was a school counselor who later became a school principal.

Kleon has two half-brothers and a step-sister.


Kleon graduated as a valedictorian in high school and attended Miami University, where he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies. He studied creative writing, philosophy, and English literature at Miami University.

Austin Kleon at college
Austin Kleon at college

After completing his undergraduate studies, Kleon moved to Cleveland, Ohio.


Austin Kleon cites various authors, poets, and artists as his influences.

Regarding literature and writing, he has been influenced by poets like Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams and novelists such as Kurt Vonnegut, Lynda Barry, and George Saunders.

Pablo Picasso AI art
Pablo Picasso AI art

In the visual arts, he has been inspired by the work of artists like Pablo Picasso, Matisse, Basquiat, and David Hockney.

The philosophy and ideas of creatives and thinkers also influence Kleon, and he frequently refers to the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, a media theorist known for coining the term “the medium is the message.”

Kleon has also drawn inspiration from musicians like Bob Dylan and David Bowie.


Early career

Austin Kleon started his career as a librarian in Cleveland, Ohio. While working in the library, he began to blog and post his poems. His blog gained popularity, and he started to receive invitations to speak at conferences, which helped him to gain a wider audience.

Kleon’s interest in web design and coding led him to study HTML and CSS. He used his skills to create websites for small businesses and nonprofits. He also worked for Spring Box, a digital ad agency, where he worked on web design and development projects.

Kleon’s advertising and copywriting experience helped him develop his writing skills. He worked as an advertising copywriter for a few years before becoming a full-time writer and artist. 

Breakthrough success

Kleon’s writing career began with the publishing of his first book, Newspaper Blackout, in 2010. The book is a collection of blackout poems created by redacting words from newspaper articles to create new meanings. The book was a critical and commercial success, leading to Kleon’s second book, Steal Like an Artist.

“Steal Like an Artist,” published in 2012, is a manifesto for creative people. The book encourages readers to embrace their influences and to steal ideas from other artists to create something new. The book became an instant bestseller and has been translated into over 20 languages.

Kleon’s third book, “Show Your Work!”, was published in 2014. The book guides artists and creative professionals who want to share their work. The book encourages readers to be open about their creative process and to share their work online. The book was also a bestseller and praised for its practical advice and inspiring message.

In 2019, Kleon published his latest book, “Keep Going.” The book is a guide for creative people who are struggling to stay motivated and productive. The book offers practical advice and inspiration for anyone who wants to keep creating in the face of adversity.

Recent projects

In addition to his books, Kleon is a highly sought-after speaker and has given talks at several prestigious events, including TEDx, SXSW, and The Economist. He has also been featured in several media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker.

Many individuals and organizations, including Google and Pixar, have embraced Kleon’s ideas. He has spoken at conferences such as The Economist’s Human Potential Summit and SXSW, where he has shared his insights on creativity, digital media, and the importance of staying motivated in adversity.

Books Translation and Distribution

Austin Kleon’s books have been widely translated and distributed worldwide. His bestselling book, “Steal Like an Artist,” has been translated into over 20 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. The book’s success has led to its distribution in various countries, making it a global phenomenon.

Awards and Recognition

Throughout his career, Kleon has been recognized as a leading voice in the world of creativity. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR, among other publications. His books have been praised for their practical advice, an inspiring message, and beautiful illustrations.

Personal Life

He is married to his wife, Meghan Kleon, and they have two sons.

In 2005, Austin moved to Austin, Texas, where he resides. He has described the city as a creative hub influencing his work.

Austin is known for being a private person and does not share much information about his personal life on social media or in interviews. However, he has mentioned that his family is a significant source of inspiration for his work.

Hobbies and Interests

Austin Kleon teenage playing guitar
Austin Kleon, as a teenager, playing guitar.

He is an avid reader and enjoys drawing, which feeds into his creative process.

As a music enthusiast, he also plays the guitar and appreciates various genres of music.

Kleon finds inspiration in everyday activities like walking, which he sees as a meditative and creativity-sparking habit.

He maintains a daily journal to capture his thoughts and ideas.

Additionally, he enjoys gardening and spending quality time with his family.

Social Networks


Austin Kleon Website


Austin Kleon Twitter


Austin Kleon Facebook


Austin Kleon on Tumblr


Austin Kleon on Instagram


Austin Kleon on Youtube

Press & Interviews

Books Written by Austin Kleon

  • 2010 – “Newspaper Blackout”
  • 2012 – “Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative”
  • 2014 – Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered”
  • 2019 – “Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad”
  • 2020 – “Steal Like an Artist Box Set” – This box set includes the Steal Like an Artist Journal, a notebook for sketching ideas and keeping a creative diary, and a copy of the book “Steal Like an Artist.”

F.A.Q. about Austin Kleon

Who is Austin Kleon?

Austin Kleon is an American author, artist, and speaker born in 1983. He is best known for his work on creativity, inspiring people to steal from others creatively and share their creative process with the world.

What are some of his published works?

Some of his published works include “Newspaper Blackout” (2010), “Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative” (2012), “Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered” (2014), and “Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad” (2019).

What is the “Steal Like an Artist” concept?

“Steal Like an Artist” is a concept Austin Kleon introduced in his book. He proposes that all creative work builds on what came before and thus encourages artists to embrace influence, gather ideas, and remix them to discover their own path.

What is Austin Kleon’s “Newspaper Blackout” about?

“Newspaper Blackout” is a book featuring a collection of poetry made by redacting words from newspaper articles with a permanent marker, leaving behind a selection of words that form a new and different meaning.

What are Austin Kleon’s hobbies?

Austin Kleon enjoys activities that feed his creativity and worldview. These include reading, drawing, listening and playing music, walking, journaling, gardening, and spending time with his family.

Quotes from Austin Kleon

“Be curious about the world in which you live. Look things up. Chase down every reference. Go deeper than anybody else–that’s how you’ll get ahead.”

“It’s not the work you do that matters, it’s the work you put into the work you do.”

“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.”

“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”

“Creativity is subtraction.”

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