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101 Absolutely Badass Quotes About Creativity

It can be hard to remember with the day-to-day drudgery of agency shopwork, but the reason you got into the creative industry in the first place is because you love to create. Art and innovation are your bread and butter, and you understand that you’re part of the next generation of a rich history of free-thinkers and creatives stretching right back to the dawn of human history.

Sometimes, when you’re feeling uninspired, and the deadline is looming, and everyone’s behind and you know something’s just not working, the right words can stir something in your soul and suddenly, BAM, you’ve just created something awesome for the client.

So here are 101 quotes to get you inspired and help you push through those creative blocks:

1. “You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London

2. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.” - George Bernard Shaw

3. “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus

inspiration for designers

4. ”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” — Steven Pressfield

5. “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney

6. “Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” — Andy Warhol

7. “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.” — Donatella Versace

8. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” — Leonardo da Vinci

9. “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” — Robert Henri

10. “You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.” — Frederick Terral

11. “Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” — Magdalena Abakanowicz

12. “We are not on this earth to accumulate victories, things, and experiences, but to be whittled and sandpapered until what’s left is who we truly are.” — Arianna Huffington

13. “Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it.” — Salvador Dali

14. “The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication.” — Cyril Connolly

15. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” — Kurt Vonnegut

16. “God is really another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.” — Pablo Picasso

17. “Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.” — E.M. Forster

18. “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” — Stephen King

19. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” — John Steinbeck

20. “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” — Ray Bradbury

21. “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” — Leo Burnett

22. “It’s better to fail in originality, than succeed in imitation.” — Herman Melville

23. “As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance” — Calvin and Hobbes

24. “Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible; he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.” — Frank Goble

25. “Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.” — L. Drachman

26. “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” — Vincent van Gogh

27.“Sex is like art. Most of it is pretty bad, and the good stuff is out of your price range.” — Scott Roeben

28. “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” — Jean Piaget

29. “You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.” — Robin WIlliams

30. “Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” — William McKnight, 3M President

31. “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” — Cecil B. DeMille

32. “Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” — Charles Mingus

33. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

34. “The highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative. Creative effort spent for any other reason than the joy of being in that light filled space, love, god, whatever we want to call it, is lacking in integrity…” — Marianne Williamson

35. “No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time, it’s just that others are behind the times.” — Martha Graham

36. “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” — William Faulkner

37. “Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” — Pablo Picasso

38. ”Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” — Sam Levenson

39. “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” — Ben Okri

40. The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” — Emily Dickenson

41. “Truly creative people care a little about what they have done, and a lot about what they are doing. Their driving focus is the life force that surges in them now.” — Alan Cohen

42. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” — Soren Kierkegaard

43. “Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” — George Lois

44. “Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.” — James Ogilvy

45. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

46. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine De Saint Exupery.

47. “Life is trying things to see if they work.” — Ray Bradbury

48. “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There’s a thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the biggest idiot on earth” — Cynthia Heimel

49. “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever — MAKE.” — Joss Whedon

50. “Think left and think right, and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” — Dr. Seuss

51. “Carpe every damn diem.” — Justine Musk

52. “The trouble with having an open mind, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” — Terry Pratchett

53. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” — Steve Jobs

54. “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself” — Rita Mae Brown

55. “The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” — Henry David Thoreau

56. “F@*# self-doubt. I despise it. I hold it in contempt, along with the hell-spawned ooze-pit of Resistance from which it crawled. I will NEVER back off. I will NEVER give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back.” — Steven Pressfield

57. “The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” — Auguste Rodin

58. “Give what you have. To someone else it may be better than you dare to think” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

59. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” — John F. Kennedy

creative inspiration

60. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

61. “Don’t bend; water it down; or make it logical; don’t edit your soul for fashion. Follow intense obsessions mercilessly.” — Franz Kafka

62. “Held in the palms of thousands of disgruntled people over the centuries have been ideas worth millions – if they only had taken the first step and then followed through.” – Robert M. Hayes

63. “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” — Neil Gaiman

64. “Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.” — Constantin Brancusi

65. “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?’” — George Bernard Shaw

66. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Emerson

67. “When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” — Linda Naiman

68. “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” — Jack Kerouac

69.“Creativity is … seeing something that doesn’t exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God.” — Michele Shea

70. “We work in the dark, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” — Henry James

71. “The key question isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.” — Abraham Maslow

72. “Don’t worry, be crappy. ‘Revolutionary’ means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” — Guy Kawasaki

73. “The earth has music for those who listen.” — William Shakespeare

74. “Only those that risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Eliot

75. “The thing about creativity is, people are going to laugh at it. Get over it.” — Twyla Tharp

76. “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook

77. “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads” — Erica Jong

78. “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” — Anne Sexton

79. “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce

80. “Do not be troubled for a language, cultivate your soul and she will show herself.” — Eugene Delacroix

81. “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes

82. “I love those who yearn for the impossible.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

83. “No artist tolerates reality.” — Nietzsche

84. “Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul — and you answer.” — Terri Guillemets

85. “Creativity takes courage.” — Henri Matisse

86. “The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things-ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later, or six months, or six years. But he has faith that it will happen.” — Carl Ally

87. “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein

88. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela

89. “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” — John Cage

creative ideas

90. “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall

91. “I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” — Robert Henri

92. “Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.” — James Russell Lowell

93. “Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f**king sharp knife to it.” — Banksy

94. “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” — Edward de Bono

95. ”When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.” — Keith Haring

96. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams

97. “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” — Bertrand Russell

98. “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho

99. “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” — Nolan Bushnell

100. “So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  — Brenda Ueland


101. “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” — Goethe

So there you have it; 101 quotes about creativity to get you psyched for your next client project. Print out your favorites, hang them over your desk or place in your wallet to always remind you why you are and why you’re doing what you do.

What are you most inspiring quotes about creativity and inspiration?