Inspirational Quotes on Creativity and Innovation

This post is a collection of inspirational quotes on creativity and innovation. I wanted to gather a complication of a variety of inspiring quotes from prolific thinkers, artists, authors, pioneers, and innovators. As a creative, I find it both inspiring and relieving to hear from other creators on the struggle and beauty of living an innovative life. I’m calling this part 1 as I there are so many influential creatives that aren’t included here. I suspect I’ll have creativity quotes part 2 out soon! 

Creativity is an elusive word. I often hear people say they aren’t creative. But as image bearers of God, the Creator, that can’t be true. Some say they are only creative if they are inventing or making art. But creativity is inside all of us and takes on many forms. Curiosity keeps our mind adaptable, open, and able to bring life to our new ideas, best ideas, great ideas, and brilliant ideas. In essence, creativity is problem solving. Creative ideas come from noticing a gap from where we want to be and where we are and taking on the challenge of solving the problem. 

As I read through these quotes, I noticed one of the common themes is courage. We can’t be creative or innovative without courage. Good ideas are just ideas until someone manifests them. The truly creative person is an ordinary person who decides to follow their curiosity. And that takes courage. 

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (b. 1928 – d. 2014), a celebrated poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, often shared profound insights into life, resilience, and creativity through her writings and speeches. These quotes reflect Maya Angelou’s wisdom and insight into the human condition, resilience, and the creative spirit. They inspire individuals to embrace their creativity, express themselves authentically, and overcome obstacles in their creative pursuits.

  • “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
  • “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
  • “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
  • “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  • “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
  • “Creativity is not an easy thing to pin down. It’s about looking at something from a different angle, trying something new, and not being afraid to fail.”

Woody Allen

Woody Allen (b. 1935), the renowned filmmaker, actor, and comedian, has offered numerous insights on creativity throughout his career. These quotes reflect Allen’s wit, irreverence, and unique perspective on life and creativity, often blending humor with profound insights.

  • “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
  • “The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”
  • “You have to have a lot of chutzpah to say, ‘I’m going to go and make a film.'”

Brené Brown

Brené Brown (b. 1965), a renowned researcher and author, often shares insights on creativity and vulnerability. While she may not be primarily known for quotes specifically about creativity, her work on vulnerability, courage, and wholehearted living often intersects with creative processes.

  • “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”
  • “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.”
  • “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”
  • “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
  • “Creativity is at the heart of every innovation. Every leap forward, every change, every improvement is driven by the creative minds willing to think differently, take risks, and challenge the status quo.”
  • “The world doesn’t need more critics. It needs more creators.”
  • “Creativity is fundamentally about connection. When our lives are connected to the world and each other, creativity thrives.

Miles Davis

Miles Davis (b. 1926 – d. 1991), the legendary jazz musician and composer, was known for his innovative approach to music and his relentless pursuit of creativity. These quotes reflect Miles Davis’s unconventional approach to music and his commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity and expression. His insights are not only relevant to musicians but also to anyone seeking to cultivate their creativity in any field.

  • “Don’t play what’s there; play what’s not there.”
  • “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”
  • “I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”
  • “You have to practice improvisation. It’s not something that you just take for granted.”
  • “I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.”
  • “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452 – d. 1519), the Renaissance polymath known for his mastery in various fields such as art, science, and engineering, left behind numerous insights on creativity. These quotes reflect da Vinci’s deep understanding of the creative process, the importance of continuous learning, and the interconnectedness of various disciplines in fostering creativity and innovation.

  1. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  2. “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
  3. “Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”
  4. “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”
  5. “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
  6. “To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein (b. 1879 – d. 1955), the renowned physicist known for his groundbreaking scientific theories, also had profound insights into creativity and imagination. These quotes reflect Albert Einstein’s belief in the power of imagination, curiosity, and creativity to drive progress and innovation in science, as well as in life more broadly.

  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
  • “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”
  • “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
  • “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
  • “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
  • “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
  • “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
  • “The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.”
  • “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”
  • “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Thomas Edison

Thomas A. Edison (b. 1837 – d. 1931), the inventor and businessman known for his numerous inventions, including the phonograph and the electric light bulb, had many insights into creativity and innovation. These quotes reflect Edison’s belief in the importance of perseverance, imagination, and hard work in the creative process. He understood that creativity often involves trial and error, but it ultimately leads to innovation and progress.

  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • “There’s a way to do it better—find it.”
  • “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
  • “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
  • “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
  • “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
  • “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”
  • “Vision without execution is hallucination.”
  • “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss (b. 1977), an entrepreneur, author, and podcast host, often shares insights on productivity, personal development, and creativity. While his focus extends beyond creativity alone, many of his quotes and ideas touch upon the subject. While these quotes may not explicitly mention creativity, they embody Tim Ferriss’s philosophy of efficiency, effectiveness, and personal growth, all of which are crucial components of a creative mindset and process.

  • “Think big and don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. Life’s too short to think small.”
  • “Saying yes to less is the way out.”
  • “Focus on being productive instead of busy.”
  • “It’s not all about finding ideas, it’s about vetting, polishing, and executing them.”
  • “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
  • “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  • “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
  • “The hard choices—what we most fear doing, asking, saying—these are very often exactly what we most need to do.”
  • “The most powerful way to educate others is by example.”
  • “The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.”

Martha Graham

Martha Graham, the pioneering dancer and choreographer, had a deep understanding of creativity and its importance in the arts. These quotes reflect Martha Graham’s deep reverence for the creative process and the significance of authenticity, passion, and individual expression in artistic endeavors.

  1. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
  2. “No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time. It is just that the others are behind the time.”
  3. “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”
  4. “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
  5. “I did not want to be a tree, a flower, or a wave. In a dancer’s body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being.”
  6. “The body says what words cannot.”
  7. “The only sin is mediocrity.”
  8. “You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.” 

Bob Iger

Bob Iger, the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, has shared insights on creativity and leadership throughout his career. These quotes reflect Bob Iger’s emphasis on the importance of creativity, innovation, and taking risks in achieving success, particularly in the realm of entertainment and business.

  • “The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.”
  • “The heart and soul of the Walt Disney Company would always be its animation.”
  • “You don’t have to be a genius to be creative, you just need passion.”
  • “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.”
  • “The riskiest thing we can do is just continue to do things the way we’ve always done them.”
  • “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”
  • “Innovation is the key to our continued success.”
  • “The riskiest thing you can do is embrace the status quo and think, ‘OK, I’m going to sit back and wait for a while.'”
  • “You’ve got to be willing to take risks and embrace innovation. Otherwise, you’re going to be left behind.”
  • “To lead a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (b. 1955 – d. 2011), the co-founder of Apple Inc. and a visionary leader in the tech industry, often spoke about the importance of creativity, innovation, and thinking differently. These quotes capture Steve Jobs’ perspective on creativity, innovation, and the importance of passion and dedication in pursuing one’s vision.

  • “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.”
  • “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  • “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.”
  • “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
  • “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.”
  • “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”
  • “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently; they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
  • “Don’t let the noise of other’s’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

Carl Jung

Carl Jung (b. 1875 – d. 1961), the renowned Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, delved deeply into the human psyche, exploring concepts like the collective unconscious, archetypes, and individuation. While Jung didn’t focus exclusively on creativity, his ideas have inspired many to explore the depths of their own creativity and imagination. While these quotes touch upon various aspects of human experience, they reflect Jung’s perspective on the importance of creativity, authenticity, and the exploration of the unconscious in the process of self-discovery and personal growth.

  • “The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
  • “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
  • “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
  • “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
  • “The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.”
  • “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
  • “Every human life contains a potential, if that potential is not fulfilled, then that life was wasted.”
  • “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”
  • The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller, (b. 1880 – d. 1968) despite being deaf and blind, was an incredibly inspirational figure who overcame immense challenges and became an author, lecturer, and activist. While she may not have explicitly focused on creativity in her writings, her life and words often reflect the power of imagination, determination, and resilience, which are closely tied to creativity. While these quotes may not explicitly mention creativity, they embody the spirit of resilience, optimism, and imagination that are fundamental to the creative process. Helen Keller’s life story itself is a testament to the power of creativity in overcoming obstacles and finding beauty and meaning in the world.

  • “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
  • “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
  • “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
  • “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
  • “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
  • “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
  • “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
  • “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
  • Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (b. 1881 – d. 1973), the renowned Spanish artist and one of the most influential figures in 20th-century art, had a profound understanding of creativity and artistic expression. These quotes reflect Picasso’s deep understanding of the creative process and his belief in the power of imagination, experimentation, and persistence in artistic endeavors.

  • “Everything you can imagine is real.”
  • “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
  • “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
  • “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
  • “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
  • “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
  • “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”
  • “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
  • “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
  • “Action is the foundational key to all success.”

Steven Pressfield 

Steven Pressfield (b. 1943) is an author best known for his works on creativity, inspiration, and overcoming resistance. These quotes reflect Steven Pressfield’s perspective on creativity, resistance, and the challenges and rewards of pursuing one’s artistic or creative calling.

  • “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.”
  • “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.”
  • “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
  • “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
  • “Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to.”
  • “You don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to do when you sit down to start a project. But you do need to have faith that once you start, you’ll figure it out.”
  • “The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.”
  • “What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out.”

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw, a prolific playwright and critic, had numerous insights on creativity. These quotes reflect Shaw’s deep understanding of the creative process and the importance of imagination, adaptability, and persistence in the pursuit of creative endeavors.

  1. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”
  2. “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
  3. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
  4. “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?'”
  5. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
  6. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
  7. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
  8. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, the transcendentalist philosopher, writer, and naturalist, had profound insights into creativity, nature, and the human spirit. These quotes reflect Thoreau’s belief in the power of imagination, individuality, and living deliberately, all of which are central to the creative process.

  1. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
  2. “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.”
  3. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
  4. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
  5. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
  6. “The universe is wider than our views of it.”
  7. “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
  8. “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
  9. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”
  10. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, the celebrated American writer and humorist, had numerous insights into creativity, often expressed with his trademark wit and wisdom. These quotes reflect Twain’s belief in the power of imagination, the importance of taking action, and the value of curiosity and humor in the creative process. These quotes celebrate the creativity, innovation, and boundless potential of the very creative mind.

  1. “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
  2. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
  3. “Write what you know.”
  4. “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”
  5. “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
  6. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
  7. “The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.”
  8. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
  9. “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, the iconic Dutch post-impressionist painter, had a profound understanding of creativity and its essence. These quotes capture Van Gogh’s relentless pursuit of creativity, his resilience in the face of adversity, and his profound connection to art as a means of expression and exploration.

  • “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”
  • “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.”
  • “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
  • “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
  • “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
  • “The way to know life is to love many things.”
  • “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
  • “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.”
  • “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
  • “The uncreative mind is trapped by the limitations it imposes on itself.” 

I hope you enjoyed some of my favorite inspirational quotes on creativity and innovation!

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