22 Insightful Creativity Quotes
Learn and get inspired by these thought-provoking quotes from famous leaders and creators.
There are so many opinions out there about what creativity means, how to be creative, and the process of creativity itself.
From Albert Einstein to Steve jobs, the world’s biggest leaders and artists all have something to say about creativity.
We’ve put together a list of the best creativity quotes for you to learn from and get inspired.
And, spoiler alert - the list doesn't include the famous words of Steve Jobs that “creativity is just connecting things,” because you’ve probably heard that one a million times already. We’ve tried to be a little more diverse and hopefully offer you something new.
Whether you’re a lucky human who seems to have a source of constant creativity or you’re struggling with a bit of a lack of creativity at the moment, these little nuggets of wisdom should guide and inspire you!
A Note on Inspiration
Creative people need inspiration.
The creative process is one of the most complex and beautiful parts of being human. It’s messy, frustrating, enjoyable, and different for everyone. Being creative helps us understand ourselves and the world. It’s a natural part of human expression that we should all value and cultivate.
One of the essential components of creativity is inspiration. We’re not always going to have that and creative workers such as designers or writers, in particular, know that you’ve got to sit down and do the work even when you’re not inspired if you’re going to achieve anything.
However, we can make sure that we are as inspired as possible by surrounding ourselves with the right people, knowledge, places, and resources. Simply reading other people’s insights on creativity is an integral part of staying inspired. We need to bounce ideas off of each other and create a community around inspiration and creative endeavors.
Before you check out these awesome quotes on creativity and read our thoughts on each quote, take a moment to consider what it means to you.
What would you have to say about creativity? And what is your unique interpretation of each quote? Remember, the number one secret of creativity is originality (in our humble opinion), so it’s important to stay conscious of your own ideas when diving into the ideas of others!
1. "Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought." - Albert Einstein
This is a musing on originality.
While originality is a topic of great discussion in the creative world, with many artists claiming that there is no such thing; for example, Mark Twain who said, “There is no such thing as an original idea,” each person has a unique perspective that lends itself to originality.
Being creative is about presenting a piece of art, a design, an idea, or an innovation in a way that is filtered through your own unique perspective, talent, and skills. Perhaps that’s what Einstein meant by this!
2. “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” - Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso had so much wisdom to share on creativity!
He also said that “art is chaos taking shape.” There seems to be a common idea between both of these inspiring creativity quotes, which is that creativity is a process of refinement.
A creative project, whether that’s an illustration or a logo, a sculpture, a fashion item, or a user interface - whatever form it takes, the finished product has taken countless influencing factors such as culture, colors, a brief, fonts, styles, emotion, politics, etc., and carefully chosen what to include and what to exclude. It results in something beautiful that somehow makes sense amongst the chaos of the endless influencing factors we have around us at any time.
3. "You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul." - George Bernard Shaw
What George Bernard Shaw meant by this was that art is a reflection of the inner world of the artist.
Every human has an entirely unique perspective of the world, which is why every single person has the capacity to create something original. Just like every person has a unique reflection in the mirror, all our creative expressions can be unique, too.
To any creative type seeking authenticity and originality in their style, the more you connect with your inner world, the more you will support originality in your art, as opposed to continuously looking outside for inspiration.
4. “A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life” - Elizabeth Gilbert
The wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert has exploded as a thought leader on “the creative life” since her book “Big Magic” became a bestseller and her Ted Talks reached millions of people.
This quote reminds us that creativity blossoms when your lifestyle supports it. You have to be inspired, connect with interesting people, learn new things, and see new people on a consistent basis. You have to expand your mind with art and culture, satisfy your curiosity with travel and education, and surround yourself with beautiful design, fashion, and food.
You’ve got to experience the interesting to know how to create anything interesting.
5. “Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working." - Henri Matisse
Matisse was quite the fountain of wisdom when it comes to insights on creativity.
This quote is an important reminder that you’re not always going to have an endless supply of inspiration, so even when you’re not feeling it, you’ve got to create anyway. Matisse suggests that once you start working, you will unlock the creative juices, and the inspiration will start flowing, fueling you to continue working. Has anyone experienced this? Share and tag us if you agree.
6. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” - Sylvia Plath
Oh yes, any creative human would have encountered our good friend self-doubt.
A creative mind is often the most riddled with self-doubt. It doesn’t need to be an enemy of creativity, though, if you acknowledge that self-doubt is one thousand percent normal- even the best of the best experience it! The key is to put yourself out there anyway. You’ve got to make friends with your self-doubt, right? Acknowledge that it’s there, don’t beat yourself up about it, and just carry on creating.
7. “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” - Mary Lou Cook
The creative process is messy, no doubt.
Mary Lou Cook reminds us that to be creative; we have to get messy; we have to explore and go against the grain. The most notable part of this quote is “making mistakes” and “having fun.” It’s important not to take things too seriously and to allow the spirit of fun; otherwise, you’ll hinder your creativity.
8. “It's no good being too easily swayed by people's opinions. You have to believe in yourself.” - Donatella Versace
Madame Versace knows what she’s talking about.
Perhaps the chief enemy of creativity, even more so than self-doubt, is looking for approval. You’re never going to win everybody over. The most successful people in any creative endeavor trust themselves and believe in their work so much that they don’t need anybody’s approval.
9. “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” - Edward De Bono
Truth. We still, unfortunately, live in a time where creativity is not taken seriously enough in the greater scheme of things.
There is evidence that this is changing, though. If you look at places like Silicon Valley, you’ll see how creativity and “play” are valued as an important part of technological advancement, and larger corporate institutions are catching on. Creativity is what causes evolution so it’s important we keep it alive!
10. "Begin by learning to draw and paint like the old masters. After that, you can do as you like; everyone will respect you." - Salvador Dali
Look, not everyone can get their skills to such levels of perfection.
Mainly because they don’t have the interest to put in the time it takes, not because they can’t. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re any less of an artist. There are tons of styles to experiment with. However, if you’re an illustrator or visual artist, it’s important that you do focus on honing your skills, as this will support your freedom in experimenting. You need the skills to be able to capture what’s in your imagination. Salvador Dali captured such incredibly imaginative imagery because he had incredible skills that afforded him this ability.
What Salvador Dali also meant by this is that you’ve got to earn respect by playing by the rules first; then, you get the privilege of breaking them. Pablo Picasso had similar ideas, evident in his quote, “learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
11. “Create with the heart; build with the mind.” - Criss Jami
The mind can get in the way when we’re trying to be creative.
Overthinking is another enemy of creativity. Criss Jami’s quote reminds us to create from a place of emotion and inspiration. Much art won’t make logical sense to the mind, and it doesn’t always need to!
12. “Deadlines and things make you creative.” - Jack White
This is an interesting perspective from Jack White.
Many people would argue that deadlines “and things” put pressure on you and hinder creativity. However, many people learn (especially in the deadline-driven design industry) that deadlines push us into action and force us to get creative. There is something about limitations on budgets, timeframes, and resources that actually drive our creative thinking.
13. “You can be cautious or you can be creative, but there's no such thing as a cautious creative.” - George Lois
In one of the most famous quotes about creativity, George Lois reminds us that we have to get a little messy and break some rules to get anymore.
You’ve got to have a “let’s just go for it” attitude.
14. "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." - Maya Angelou
What a relief to know that your creativity can’t run out! It’s an endless resource that only becomes more activated the more you use it.
Perhaps that’s why it’s often called a “creative flow.” Everyone experiences “dry spells,” but this is due to a lack of inspiration or too much stress that has just blocked the tap to your creativity. It doesn’t mean it’s used up or gone. Getting creative is about unlocking something within yourself so that the creativity can flow.
15. "There is no innovation and creativity without failure." - Brené Brown
What would any inspirational quote article be without a bit of wisdom from Brené Brown?
Failure is so important to learn from. It teaches us how to refine and where to improve, plus “failures” can guide us to something better, something unexpected. They can break us open to something we’ve never thought of before.
16. “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” - Bruce Lee
The control comes afterward, when we are refining; but to even get to that point, we’ve gotta get out of our own way and allow the creativity to flow through us.
It’s a lot easier said than done. Surrender is an art. If you’ve ever dived into eastern philosophies, you’ll know that people spend entire lifetimes simply learning the art of surrendering. You don’t need to go full-on monk, but you might want to make a conscious effort to practice surrender while you are creating.
Often, the secret to creativity lies in the subconscious. By learning to surrender, we let go of rational thinking and the conscious mind to discover the gold that lies deeper within ourselves.
17. “The creative adult is the child who survived.” - Ursula Le Guin
There is a lot of research showing that all humans start out creative as children, and it’s simply neglected, or we’re trained out of it.
Pablo Picasso had a similar opinion to Le Guin when he said, “Every Child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up.” This is a reminder that to access creativity, we have to let our inner child come out. We have to play and be curious. A true sign of intelligence is allowing the child within to come out and play and understanding the value in this child-like point of view.
18. “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Vincent Van Gogh
This quote from painter Vincent Van Gogh reminds us that creative projects, especially larger projects, don’t happen overnight.
It takes working at it in a series of moments consistently. It also reminds us that a career, a portfolio, or even a hobby takes time to build. Every project you complete is a step closer to becoming great at what you do.
Your greatness is accumulated through a series of moments; it doesn’t happen in just one moment.
19. “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” - Oprah Winfrey
Where would anyone be without the wisdom of Oprah Winfrey?
Expressing our creativity is an opportunity to shed light on something. This can take the form of solutions, inventions, and art. It comes back to that unique perspective, once again. Each person’s creative expression adds to the birth of new ideas in the world, variety, and diversity in perspective.
20. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo Da Vinci
We certainly agree, Mr. Leonardo Da Vinci.
We’ve dedicated a whole article to the beauty of simplicity, in fact. Making something simple in art and design is often the most significant challenge. It takes craft, intelligence, and experience. It also helps to remember that when you are trying to convey sophistication in a project, stay connected to the overall goal of simplicity.
21. “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” - Austin Kleon
When in doubt, create what you’d like!
We can get so caught up trying to create for an audience or a client that we neglect to create for ourselves.
The most impactful and beautiful creations come from artists and designers who personally love what they are creating.
22. “Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” - Dorothy Parker
This quote speaks to the balance that’s necessary for any creative project.
Yes, it requires freedom, letting go, letting your imagination run wild, and all the rest. But it also requires a refined eye that knows how to pull everything together in an aesthetically pleasing way that makes it enjoyable for a viewer to experience.
After reading all these quotes, you may have come to some concluding concepts of creativity and the creative process, especially combined with your own knowledge and experience on the topic. We’ve put together a few key takeaways that we’ve learned from getting lost in the world of creativity quotes.
- Your unique perspective is your creative gold.
- Bringing the spirit of fun, excitement, and child-like wonder is extremely valuable to be creative.
- The more you live a life that inspires you, the more access you have to your creativity.
- You’re not always going to be inspired; you’ve got to sit down and work anyway.
- Self-doubt is normal. Create anyway.
- It takes time and effort. Each bit of experience counts towards something!
- Create for yourself.
- You need to have a curiosity about life.
- Let go and let it flow.
- Creativity comes from your inner world.
- Creative ideas don’t grow on trees, but they are an unlimited resource if you keep them flowing.
- Refining and simplifying are what lead to a beautiful finished product. It’s a skill that must be learned!
Creative people need to feed this part themselves to keep it alive. We do this through lifestyle, learning, practice, and community, from successful entrepreneurs to chefs, actors, people in graphic design, and everyone in between - those whose job depends on creativity know how complex and valuable of a topic this is, and that we need to take care of our creativity and nurture it.
What’s your favorite creativity quote? Share and tag Vectornator in your favorite quotes; we’d love to hear from you! And if you want to unleash your own creativity, download Vectornator for free today and start designing!
September 2, 2021