Potrait of a TEDx’er: Austin Kleon

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Austin Kleon. Artist; writer; TEDx’er.

"I don’t have many words, but right there in front of me are millions of them—and they’re ripe for the taking,” said poet Austin Kleon during his talk, "Reimagining Poetry" at TEDxPennQuarter, describing the stack of newspapers piled by his desk that willed him out of writers’ block.

The Ohio native and current Texan was suffering an extreme case of the block when, unsure of where to look for inspiration, his recycling bin caught his eye, and he realized that he didn’t have to worry about finding words—the words had found him.

Austin at TEDxPennQuarter

The author of both Steal Like An Artist and Newspaper Blackout, Kleon has become very comfortable with plucking words ripe for the taking. In his talk at TEDxPennQuarter, Austin describes how he created what came to be Newspaper Blackout, his book of poems created by taking a permanent marker to newspaper articles—turning news alerts, exacting quotes, and pressing details into something completely different: poetry.

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A Newspaper Blackout poem

When not TEDx’ing, Austin draws, writes, speaks, tweets, and blogs. An accomplished “doodler,” Kleon has brought not only insight into the creative process to the TEDx community, but also an assortment of artistic contributions, including an animated recap of TEDxAustin and illustrated notes for TEDxPennQuarter. He has also spoke at TEDxKC, where he gave a talk about “stealing like an artist”—using inspiration from the best artists to dig out the best artist inside yourself.

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Austin at TEDxKC

Look below for his short film turning office sticky notes into a live diorama of ideas worth spreading at TEDxAustin, and a sampling of his visual notes for TEDxPennQuarter.

TEDxAustin gets sticky note’d!


Austin Kleon draws TEDxPennQuarter. See his Flickr album here and read more about his process here.

Find Austin at http://www.austinkleon.com/, where you can read more about his books, follow his blog, and see what new art he’s concocting. Here’s hoping Austin steals some ideas worth spreading to bring to many TEDx events to come!

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