There are many voices on creativity, how to be creative, and the creative process itself.

From Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, the world’s greatest leaders and artists have shared their musings on creativity.

We can draw inspiration from them as we look at their careers and achievements.

We’ve compiled a list of the most inspiring creativity quotes to help you think out of the box and find new solutions to problems.

And, spoiler alert—the list doesn't include Steve Jobs' famous words, “Creativity is just connecting things,” because you’ve probably already heard that one too many times. 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 creative block at the moment, these little nuggets of wisdom can guide and inspire you.

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A note on inspiration

Creative people need inspiration.

The creative process is one of human's most complex and beautiful parts. Creativity is 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 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.

We can ensure we remain inspired by surrounding ourselves with the right people, knowledge, places, and resources. Simply reading other people’s insights on creativity is integral to staying inspired.

Our creative juices often flow when we can bounce daring ideas off each other and nurture a community around inspiration and creative endeavors.

The role of creativity in marketing, design, and problem-solving

Creativity is more than an abstract concept. It's a fundamental tool for success in marketing, design, and problem-solving.

In marketing, creativity can differentiate a brand, making it stand out in a sea of competitors. It's the magic ingredient that turns ordinary campaigns into viral sensations, capturing the public's attention and leaving a lasting impression.

In design, creativity breathes life into ideas, transforming abstract concepts into tangible realities. It empowers designers to innovate, pushing beyond the boundaries of the known and exploring new horizons.

Whether it's a logo that captures the essence of a brand, a product design that revolutionizes an industry, or a user interface that makes software a joy to use, creativity is at the heart of it all.

Creativity also plays a pivotal role in problem-solving. It encourages us to look beyond conventional solutions and consider new approaches. It's about connecting the dots in unexpected ways, leading to effective and novel solutions.

Creativity quotes

Before you check out these inspiring quotes on creativity and read our thoughts on each quote, remember to take a moment to consider what each quote 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 creative 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 one of Albert Einstein's musings on originality.

Originality is a topic of great discussion in the creative world, with many artists claiming that there is no such thing. Mark Twain once said, “There's no such thing as an original idea.”

But Einstein argues that 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.

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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 these inspiring creativity quotes: creativity is an evolutionary process of refinement.

A creative project, whether an illustration or a logo, a sculpture, a fashion item, or a user interface—whatever form it takes, the finished product was shaped by countless influencing factors. These include culture, colors, a brief, fonts, styles, emotions, politics, etc.

A creative carefully chooses what to include and exclude. It results in something beautiful that somehow makes sense amongst the chaos of the endless influencing factors around us at any time.

But it doesn't happen overnight. It takes courageous patience and an unrelenting drive to challenge the status quo, coming up with innovative ideas and refining them until they work.

Don't worry about asking the wrong questions—or perhaps giving the wrong answers. Putting brilliant ideas into action to see what happens is one of the best sources of creativity, because it helps you find the parts you need to improve.

3. "You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul." – George Bernard Shaw

This phrase is one of the many aphorisms by George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), a famous Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist. His work is characterized by satire and insightful commentary on societal issues.

Shaw uses the illustration of a mirror to show how art is a reflection of one's inner world.

Every human has a unique perspective of the world. Everyone can 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 instead of 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 (2016) became a bestseller. Her Ted Talks have also 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 consistently.

You can keep expanding your way of thinking with art and culture, and satisfy your curiosity with travel and education. You can stay inspired by surrounding yourself with beautiful design, fashion, and food.

You must experience interesting things 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 regarding insights into creativity.

This quote is an important reminder that you won’t always have an endless supply of inspiration. Even when you’re not feeling it, make things anyway. It doesn't mean that you have an uncreative mind—it just means that you must make a habit of creating things even when you don't feel inspired.

Matisse suggests that once you start working, you'll unlock your creativity, and inspiration will start flowing. It'll be fueled as you continue working.

6. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Creatives can often relate to having feelings of self-doubt.

A creative mind is riddled with self-doubt. It's this questioning nature that produces creativity. And we argue that it doesn’t need to be your enemy.

Self-doubt is normal—even the greatest leaders and artists experience it. The key to success is holding the tension of opposites and put yourself out there anyway.

Acknowledge that you're feeling self-doubt, and carry on creating.

Remember, creativity is a chaotic process.

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, explore, and go against the grain. The most notable part of this quote is “making mistakes” and “having fun.”

Don't take things too seriously, and allow the spirit of fun. This approach will unlock your infinite capacity for creativity and foster an innovation mindset.

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 seeking others' 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 anyone's approval or permission.

Staying laser-focused on your creative work will help you turn viable ideas into innovations.

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

Creativity isn't taken seriously enough in "serious" contexts like business and government.

But there's evidence that this is changing. If you look at business hubs like Silicon Valley, you’ll see how creativity and play are valued as an essential part of technological advancement. Larger corporate institutions in low-risk, horizontal industries also look to the Valley for inspiration and innovative practices.

The field of creativity is being studied as a type of learning process, and creative principles are being applied in business, education, policy-making, and beyond.

In business, you need to find ways to foster a culture of innovation in your team. This can be done by providing opportunities for creative collaboration between individuals and cross-departmental teams. Listening to your customers and taking calculated risks will also provide innovation opportunities.

A successful innovation strategy will lead to business progress and team growth.

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 Dalí

Reaching the level of the "old masters" may take a lifetime of dedication—and you might want to spend your lifetime focusing on other things, too.

But that doesn't make you any less creative.

There are many styles to experiment with. If you’re a designer or illustrator, you need to focus on honing your skills and experimenting with new mediums.

With practice, you'll be able to accurately capture what’s in your imagination.

Salvador Dalí captured such incredibly imaginative imagery because he had incredible skills that afforded him this ability.

We also think that maybe Dalí meant you have to earn respect as a creative by studying the established rules and principles of art. Then, you have 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 thinking mind can get in the way when trying to be creative.

Overthinking is another blocker to creativity. Criss Jami’s quote reminds us to create from a place of emotion and inspiration. Your art and designs won’t always make logical sense and don’t need to.

Every idea, doodle, and design is a stepping stone in your creative process. Skip one of them, and you might never find out what new heights of creativity you can reach.

12. “Deadlines and things make you creative.” – Jack White

Here's an intriguing perspective from White Stripes musician Jack White.

Many would argue that deadlines “and things” put pressure on you and hinder creativity. However, we believe many marketers and designers will agree that deadlines push us into action and force us to get creative.

Budget limitations, time constraints, and a lack of resources drive creative thinking and sharpen problem-solving skills.

The innovation process is often put into motion by external constraints that force us to reimagine modern society. Inflexible people may struggle to act creatively in constrained circumstances, as their natural bent leans towards keeping things the same.

But discomfort is oftentimes the birthplace of innovation and an instrument of entrepreneurship.

13. “You can be cautious or you can be creative, but there's no such thing as a cautious creative.” – George Lois

Art director and designer turned author, George Lois is most famous for designing almost 100 iconic magazine covers for Esquire between 1962 and 1973.

This is one of the most famous quotes about creativity of all time. Lois reminds us that we must get messy and break some rules when exerting creative effort.

Lois goes so far as to say that caution isn't an aspect of creativity. When faced with a conflict of ideas, throw caution to the wind and do something out of the ordinary.

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 becomes more activated the more you unleash it.

Perhaps that’s why it’s often called a “creative flow.” Everyone experiences “dry spells,” but this can be due to a lack of inspiration or too much stress. It doesn’t mean your creativity has been used up or lost.

The key to creativity is 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're refining. But to get to that point, we have to get out of our own way and allow creativity to flow through us.

Art is surrender. 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 become a monk, but you might want to consciously practice surrender while you're 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

Some research shows that all humans start out creative as children, and creativity is simply neglected, or we’re trained out of it as we grow older.

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, in order 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’ve dedicated an entire post to the beauty of simplicity. Making something complex simple in art and design is often the most significant challenge.

It takes craft, intelligence, and experience. When trying to convey sophistication in a project, always keep the overall goal of simplicity at the center.

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.

23. "Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones." – Bruce Garrabrandt

Bruce Garrabrandt, a self-taught artist, emphasizes the active nature of creativity with this quote. He believes that creativity does not depend on waiting for the perfect moment but making the most out of the ordinary ones.

As an artist who began with no inherent talent for drawing, Garrabrandt's perspective on creativity is rooted in his own journey of learning skills, overcoming frustrations and setbacks, and eventually becoming a professional artist.

He encourages the development of individual gifts into talents and abilities, fostering creativity.

24. "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." – Jack London

This quote is from a 1905 essay by Jack London titled "Getting Into Print." London was a prolific writer who depended on his literary skills for his livelihood. He encouraged other writers to proactively seek inspiration rather than waiting for it to come to them.

He saw the writing process as requiring discipline, persistence, and the willingness to learn from others.

25. "If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play." – John Cleese

John Cleese is an English actor, comedian, and writer. Cleese is known for his comedic work in Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, and he has often spoken about the importance of creativity, play, and humor.

26. "Serious design, serious play, is something else. For one thing, it often happens spontaneously, intuitively, accidentally or incidentally." – Paula Scher

In her 2008 TED talk, Great Design is Serious, Not Solemn, designer Paula Scher describes the difference between serious and solemn design. Scher is most famous for the album covers she created at CBS records, and the large text-based designs she created in the span of her accoladed career.

Seriousness is a laser focus on the task at hand, and a full immersion in the creative process. Solemn design, on the other hand, is focused on perfection and quality.

There's still a place for solemn design. But to be truly innovative and produce something new, you need to be creatively at play.

It's this creative energy that has led to some of the most surprising, delightful, and effective designs of all time.

27. "My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status." – Sir Ken Robinson

We now know creativity is serious. And we understand that it's a form of play. But do we consider it to be as crucial in society as academic literacy?

Sir Ken Robinson is an educator and author of Creativity in Schools (2015) and other books on creativity and education. He argues that schools are killing creativity through merit-based education and "teaching to the tests."

It's this approach to education that has led to most people missing an essential aspect of everyday life: critical thinking.

When we learn to practice critical thinking skills, creativity becomes a natural extension of our lives.

28. "Belief in your creative capacity lies at the heart of innovation." – Tom and David Kelley

The brothers Tom and David Kelley are thought leaders in the design space. Together, they authored Creative Confidence (2014). David is the Founder of Stanford University's, a multi-disciplinary school focused on innovation to solve real-world problems.

Building your creative confidence means regaining the enthusiasm and courage to go out of your comfort zone.

Many business leaders and "non-creative" roles at companies think of themselves as unartistic, and wouldn't place themselves in situations where they don't know how to perform the task at hand.

But allowing yourself to act creatively, and make mistakes, is essential for your personal and professional growth. And you may even discover a new passion and career path.

29. "Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous." – Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is an American journalist and political commentator, and former White House Press Secretary. He's been involved in public broadcasting for many years, producing documentaries and news journal programs.

Moyers' quote emphasizes the idea that creativity is about finding the extraordinary within the ordinary. This perspective encourages us to look at the world with a fresh perspective and to find inspiration in everyday life.

30. "True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new." – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Antoine de Saint-Exupery was a French writer and aviator, best known for his novella, The Little Prince (1943).

This quote reflects his view that happiness isn't derived from the result of our actions, but from the process of creation itself. His idea of creation isn't limited to the arts, but extends to all kinds of human endeavors where something new is brought into existence.

Key takeaways: quotes about creativity

After reading these powerful quotes about innovation and creativity, you may have come to some of your own conclusions about the creative process.

We’ve also 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 being 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. Sometimes you must sit down and work despite how you might feel.
  • Self-doubt is normal. Create anyway.
  • It takes time and effort. Small wins are stepping stones to success.
  • Create for yourself, not for the approval of others.
  • Be curious about life.
  • Creativity is not a moment—it's a flow.
  • Creativity can come from your inner world, or be inspired by things around you.
  • Refining and simplifying your creations lead to beautiful finished products. It’s a skill that must be learned.
  • Being creative is as important for solving real-world problems as literacy.

Creatives in all industries—marketers, designers, artists, business leaders, etc.—need to feed their inspiration to keep creativity alive.

We do this through lifestyle, learning, practice, and community.

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