Welcome! There are more than 900 Inspirational Quotes For Writers, Artists and Other Creative Leaders on this site.
Spend a few minutes exploring. And come back again and again for other inspirational quotes.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stephen Wilkes

"For two weeks after shooting the first group of pictures of Ellis, I was obsessed.  I couldn't sleep, I couldn't erase the buildings from my mind.  So I went back, many times, every chance I could.  What began as a one-hour editorial assignment became a five-year passion."

American Photographer

What are you obsessed with?  What keeps you awake at night?  What haunts your waking dreams?  As creative leaders what makes us great are our obsessions.  They define who we are and whom we become.  Encourage, honor and celebrate your obsessions.

Photos of Ellis Island
by Stephen Wilkes
(Check out his book.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Victor Hugo

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

French novelist, poet
1802 - 1885

I am amazed at how music more than painting and literature can touch people at a much deeper level. Filmmakers understand the power of music. Try watching a film without the music and you will understand. Unfortunately, paintings and novels don't have musical support. I am waiting to read a novel with a CD of appropriate music.

What impact has music had on your creative process? Do you write or paint to a certain type of music? Do you listen to only one type of music or are you eclectic? What music pumps you up and makes you want to dance? What music calms and heals you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Al Hirschfeld

"Life isn't a science.  We make it up as we go."

Al Hirschfeld
American Artist
1903 - 2003

Creating art is not a science, no matter how many times people attempt to build computers that can write poetry or paint pictures.  Creativity cannot be reduced to binary numbers programed into a machine.  The human experience cannot be reduced to mathematics or science.  We create and recreate the world as we go.  Even when the world seems to be against us, we somehow survive and thrive.  Don't worry about following all the rules or what others expect and demand of you.  Be yourself.  Find your own way.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Henri-Frederic Amiel

"Learn to limit yourself, to content yourself with some definite thing, and some definite work; dare to be what you are, and to learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality."

Swiss Philosopher/Poet
1821 - 1881

Sometimes the world we live in can be overwhelming.  There are too many choices.  Which direction should we take.  If I do this, then I will miss out on that.  Have you ever felt that way?  Paralyzed by too many choices?  I have.  After graduating from college, I didn't know which way to go.  I was afraid to choose because I might miss something, so I did nothing.  When we come to a fork in the road, we have to make a choice.  And when we take that path, we need to follow it to the next fork.  And again, we must make a decision.  But no one decision will destroy us.  I firmly believe that each path we choose ultimately leads us to where we are supposed to go.  In the end we become who we are supposed to be.

Amiel is also talking about strengths and weaknesses.  People tend to focus their attention on their weaknesses and try to improve them.  I believe we should focus on improving our strengths.  We need to accept our weaknesses and learn to navigate around them.  Be the person you were meant to be.  Accept your individuality and your originality.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Charles Dickens

"I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time."

English Novelist
1812 - 1870

What are your work habits?  Do you meet deadlines?  Are you able to focus and concentrate on what you are doing?  While no two people have the same work habits, you can learn to improve your work habits by studying the habits of others.  Are you organized?  Do you have a system for keeping track of your work?  There is also the business side of creative work.  You have to be of two minds — the creative mind and business mind.  Do you know how to promote yourself?  To sell your work?  What are your habits?  How can you improve your habits?  Do you rise at 5 am before everyone else wakes up?  Do you work best at night?  Do you listen to music or do you prefer silence?  Do you take long walks to clear your mind and energize your creative juices?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Edward Hopper

"No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination."

American Artist
1882 - 1967

Skill will take a creative leader only so far.  Imagination is required to make the great leaps that dramatically reshapes the world.  Imagination requires being able to let go of the old and embrace the new —  to leap from one place to another.  What makes you different from others around you is your ability to imagine the world differently — to see what others don't or won't see.  Embrace your imagination and give thanks daily for the gifts that it bestows upon you.  Imagination helps you to connect the dots where most people do not even see the slightest connection.  Imagination is a sacred gift given to each and everyone.  Few know how to use its powers to the best of their ability.  Many are scared by what they see and withdraw from the clutches of imagination.  Let your imagination shine.

Summer Evening, 1947 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Paul Gauguin

"I would like to write the way I do my paintings, that is, as fantasy takes me, as the moon dictates, and come up with a title long afterward."

French Artist
1848 - 1903

Crouching Tahitian Girl

Choosing titles for my poems has always been difficult for me.  I am more into the creation of the work than giving it a title.  I am more into the fantasy than the reality.  My haiku and many of my short poems do not have titles.  Why do we need to name everything?  Why do we need to title the work?  Can the work stand alone without a title?  That being said: when I go to an art museum or an art gallery I always check out the title thinking it will give me some insight into the painting.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.

Gauguin's quote, though, takes us deeper than the title.  It is talking about the creative process.  Do you plan out your work in advance or do you let the mood of the moment take over?  Some writers write from an outline.  They are just filling in the blanks.  The creative work took place when they prepared the outline.  Other writers shoot from the hip.  They never know what the next line is going to be or where it will lead them?  I never know where I am going until I get there.  I find outlines boring and only of value when I do article writing.  Even then I keep the outline to a minimum — four to seven key topics.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Camille Pissarro

"It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character."

— Camille Pissarro
French Artist
1830 - 1903

The key to success is to practice, practice and practice!  If you don't get it right the first time, do it again.  Keep working.  Too often we give up too soon.  Draw, write and paint every day.  Be patient with yourself.  Give yourself time to develop and grow into the artist that you want to be.  Nothing happens over night.  Sometimes it takes years.  Sometimes it takes a lifetime. 

The time is now.  Get up off that couch.  Stop watching television.  Draw.  Paint.  Write.  Do something.  Anything.  Every minute you waste is gone forever.  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Charlotte Bronte

"I'm just going to write because I cannot help it."

English Novelist/Poet
1816 - 1855

Do you have an urge to create?  To paint?  To write?  The desire must run deep if you want to succeed.  If you pick up a pen because you are interested in the fame and fortune, forget.  There are easier ways to make money.  Invest in stocks.  Writers write because they have no choice.  Painters paint because the choice has been made for them.   There is something deep inside all artists that demands that they create even when the odds are against them.  They cannot help it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Amy Tan

"We dream to give ourselves hope.  To stop dreaming — well, that's like saying you can never change your fate."

American Novelist
1952 -

What do you do when your dreams don't happen the way you imagined?  Do you stop dreaming?  Or do you change the dream?  Or do you reframe your expectations to match the reality?  Dreams are all that many of us have left to hold onto.  If we give up our dreams, our lifes might as well be over.  Even if we never achieve our dreams, we need the hope they inspire in us.  We always need hope until that moment arrives when we take our last breath.  Hope keeps us alive.  

Here is Amy Tan discussing how she found meaning through writing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

T. S. Elliot

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

American Poet
1888 - 1965

When I was introduced to the poetry of T. S. Elliot in college, I fell in love with his work.  One of my favorite poems still today is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock from which these two lines are taken.

We are a nation of talkers and storytellers.  We always have something to say even when it has no value or frame of reference.  People come into our lives and share their opinions on art and the world before taking their leave and going elsewhere.  Sometimes we give too much importance to the ideas and opinions of others.  We need to listen to ourselves first.  Often the opinions of others are not as valid as we are led to believe.  In fact, their opinions can be dead wrong.  

Are you trapped in a room and forced to listen to the negative opinions of others?  Break out!  Find a new room with people who will support and help you.  Avoid the negative people who try to steal your energy and enthusiasm.  

Here is a link to the full text version of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: (Read and enjoy.)

Listen to this fabulous reading of the poem by Anthony Hopkins.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Edward Calvert

"Only paint what you love in what you see...."

English Painter/Printmaker
1799 - 1883

Sometimes we put too much into our creative work. Simplicity is often best.  One way of reducing the clutter in our creative work is to focus only on what we love and ignoring everything else.  Think about what you can cut from your work without destroying its meaning and purpose.  What is extra?  What do you need to let go of so you can clarify the meaning of your work.?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Simone Weil

"Contradiction is the criterion of reality."

French Philosopher/Writer
1909 - 1943

For me, I am a walking, talking contradiction and my experience is that so are most of the people whom I have met in my life.  Have you ever said one thing and done another? Do you tell people that you love them and yet you often hurt them?  Do you believe in peace and love and yet find yourself becoming angry at the behavior of others?  Do you teach one thing and do another?  Life is full of contradictions.  And that is okay.  Contradictions make us human.  All our heroes have clay feet.  And we should love them anyway.  What are the contradictions in your life?  What makes you human?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Isadora Duncan

"All my life I have struggled to make one authentic gesture."

American Dancer
1877 -1927

Have you been true to yourself?  Or have you spent a lifetime wearing masks?  Do you know who you are and why you are here?  Are you living an authentic life?  Or are you hiding even from yourself?  We all have struggled to find ourselves and to accept who we are.  For some, this struggle has taken longer than others.  And some may even go to their grave without discovering who they are.  As artists, writers and actors, it is easy to be attracted to wearing masks and disguises.   At the very least, we should not lie to ourselves.  Even if we don't let others see the true us, we must look inward with clear vision.  We must be true to ourselves.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Carl Jung

"We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life."

Swiss Psychiatrist
1875 - 1961

Have you ever felt that you have been here before?  That you have traveled down this road and met these people before?  Life is a path or should I say a series of paths leading us to where we are supposed to go.  Sometimes we come to a fork and make choices that lead us in directions we could not foresee.  Sometimes the path dips and turns in ways we could never have imagined.  Sometimes the path almost disappears and we feel lost and disoriented.  But we are all on a path that intersects with the paths of others.  And we even meet ourselves in various disguises and masks.  Where are you on the path of life?  At the beginning?  Nearing the end?  Caught in the middle?  Have you looked in the mirror lately?  What disguise are you wearing today?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hazrat Inayat Khan

"Love that ends is the shadow of love; true love is without beginning or end."

Indian Poet/Musician
1882 - 1927

Art is about love.  
     Love of self.  
          Love of others.  
               Love of nature.  
                    Love of God.  
Love inspires.  
     Love motivates.  
          Love transforms.  
               Love demands.  
                    Love commands.
Art is love.
     God is love.
          Love is art.
               Art is God.
                    Love is God.
Are you love?
     Are you art?
          Are you God?
               Is there a beginning?
                    Is there an end?
Remember love.
     Remember art.
          Remember God.
               Remember your name.
                    You are the beginning.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Georgia O'Keefe

"I decided to start anew — to strip away what I had been taught, to accept as true my own thinking."

American Painter
1887 - 1986

Papaya Tree-Iao Valley
By the time we reach adulthood, we have subconsciously learned a lot about the expectations of the people in our lives — our family, our teachers and our friends.  And we often try to live our lives as others want us to live and work.  The problem comes in when we fail to live up to those expectations.  Some people spend unhappy lives trying to please others.  A few creative leaders are able to shake off the expectations of others and discover their true self.  Who are you?  Are you trying to please your family, friends and teachers?  Or have you discovered the person who you are meant to be?  Turning your back on what you were taught can be very difficult.  Letting go of the past can be very traumatic, but if you want to attain the person you were meant to be, you must find your own voice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


"The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.  It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars."

Greek Philosopher/Writer
384 BC - 322 BC

What are the metaphors in your writing?  Your art?  Your life?  The metaphor is as Aristotle implied almost 2400 years ago a very important part of western literature.  When I studied haiku, it was very clear that metaphor was not a part of haiku.  So why metaphor?  Why do we use one image to represent another?  Why do we find similarity in things are not similar?

Let's play with this.  Here is a metaphor I just made up.  "My life is like a fishing boat adrift on the waves."  How is my life like a fishing boat?  1.  Like the boat I have a purpose — a reason for being.  2.  Like the boat adrift, I am sometimes lost with not direction.  3.  Like the boat I am slapped by the waves of life — pushed here and there by forces beyond my control.  4.  Like the fishing boat I am not the captain of my life.

So here is my challenge:  Share a metaphor that explains your life.  "My life is like . . ."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kathe Kollwitz

"I have never been able to carry out any work coolly.  On the contrary it is done, so to speak, with my own blood.  Anyone who looks at my works must be able to sense that."

German Artist
1867 - 1945

Do you know why many young people choose to write poetry even when they don't read it?  They have a need to express what they are feeling.  The same is true of older writers as well as artists of all ages.  The creation of a work of art is a form of emotional expression — sharing with the world how we feel about a subject.  What feelings are you attempting to express?  What emotion is exposing itself in and through your creative work?  For at its heart, creative work is about expressing emotions — even deeply buried and often unconscious emotion.  And that's the good news.  If there is emotion at the core of your creative work, it will touch the hearts of those who see it or read it and you will be successful.

Widows and Orphans

Friday, February 10, 2012


"The greater the obstacle, the more the glory in overcoming it."

— Moliere
French Playwright & Actor
1622 - 1673

We have all faced obstacles in our lives — some big, some small, some real and some imagined.  Sometimes these obstacles defeat us and sometimes we are victorious.  The winners never give up.  There is always a way either over or under or around or through the obstacle.  I have often backed up and found another route around the obstacle.  Sometimes I have plowed right through the obstacle smashing it.  On other occasions I have been able to leap over the obstacle or even dig a tunnel beneath it.  The key is not to let the obstacle stop you.  And the bigger the obstacle, the greater the joy in victory.  What obstacles stand in your way today?  How are you going to overcome them?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

John Updike

"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."

American Novelist
1932 - 2009

Have you ever wondered why we have hopes and dreams?  Why do we desire to be writers, singers and painters?  Why do we want a house with a little picket fence?  What would life be like if we did not have dreams?  Probably very boring.  There would be no progress.  We would all be happy where we were and would not strive to achieve more.  Understand that since we have been given dreams, we are capable of achieving our desires.  We don't dream about things which we can not achieve.  That does not mean achieving our dreams comes easy.  We have to work hard and not give up.  What are your dreams and desires?  Are you working hard to achieve them?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


"Some give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before."

Greek Historian
484 BC - 425 BC

The one trait that every writer, painter and musician needs is persistence.  Without persistence and determination, most creative people will quit before they are successful.  People often give up too soon.  They forget that the night is the darkest just before the dawn.  When every things appears to be lost that is the time to push the hardest — to exert that extra effort.

Most successful artists and writers throughout history have understood the power of persistence.  Herodotus said it more than 2500 years ago and nothing has changed.  You still need persistence to be a winner — to be successful.  The world is full of obstacles and naysayers.  It takes persistence to find a way around or through the obstacles.  Don't give up on your dreams and hopes.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

George Elliot

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

English Novelist
1819 - 1880

We all have dreams and things we want to accomplish in our lives.  Unfortunately, most of us either give up too soon or misinterpret our dreams.  I thought being a writer meant being able to write full time.  It does not.  Many writers had other lives.  Writing is only a portion of living. I thought being a writer meant having a best seller on the charts.  It does not.  Some great writers and artists never made a penny from their creative work.  I believe that we all become what we are meant to be.  We just need to discover what we are meant to be.  Search deep within your soul to understand who you are and what you are meant to do.  For some of us being a mother or father is the most important thing we can do.  Creative works helps to keep us sane.  For others being a teacher is the most important thing they can do.  Painting is the work that keeps them in touch with who they are.  It is never to late to be what you can be.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bob Marley

"When the root is strong, the fruit is sweet."

Jamaican Musician
1945 - 1981

How well do you know your roots?  On what other artists is your art build on?  Who are the artists who have influenced you?  On whose shoulders are you standing?  An artist needs to understand the history of his art.  He needs to know his roots.

How strong are your roots?  How deep are your roots?  Without roots the tree dies.  Without roots the plant withers.  Without roots there is no fruit.  Don't ignore your roots.  Don't ignore the traditions from which you come.  Are you watering your roots?  Are you growing as an artist?  Are you in touch with your roots?  

Here is Cedella Marley talking about her father.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

John Amatt

"Face new challenges, seize new opportunities, test your resources against the unknown and in the process, discover your own unique potential."

English Speaker
1945 -

Only by challenging ourselves to try new adventures do we discover who we are and what our limitations and opportunities are.  Are you challenging yourself to learn something new?  There are physical challenges, mental challenges and creative challenges.  On what level are you challenging yourself?  You must learn to step outside your comfort zone and find new beginnings.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thomas Merton

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."

American Writer
1915 - 1968

Have you ever lost yourself in your art and woke up wondering how you created what you did?  I have sometimes written for several hours only to read what I wrote days later and be surprised by what I wrote.  Something happens where I seem to disappear into the writing process and am only partially conscious.  Yet through the process of writing I have also been able to heal myself and in the process find myself.  Creativity is a mysterious, mystical and spiritual process that brings us closer to who we are meant to be.  If you have experienced the creative process, then you have been blessed with a gift.  Give thanks for what you have been given.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Maria Luz Q. King

Old Man
"My art is my conversation with the world."

American Artist, Writer
1952 - 

Art at its core is about communication, about talking — carrying on a conversation with people today and tomorrow.  It is like a time machine that carries us from the world in which we live into some distant future where we inspire the lives of others.  What are you talking about in your art?  What is the conversation that you are having?  What messages are you sending into the future?

Is the conversation that you are having clear and concise?  Do people understand what your message is  Do you know what your message is?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Romare Bearden

"Painting and art cannot be taught.  You can save time if someone tells you to put blue and yellow together to make green, but the essence of painting is a self-disciplined activity that you have to learn by yourself."

American Artist
1911 - 1978

The Train
Collage (1974)
People often say that painting and writing cannot be taught by others.  The best way to learn to write and paint is through painting and writing.  We discover who we are as creative leaders   by doing.  And while there is a lot of truth to this, I believe one can learn from others.  Not that one needs formal training, but rather the observation and interaction with others.  Those who have been painting or writing for years have much to teach the young if they are willing to listen.  But when the teaching is over, the student must still paint or write what is in his heart. He must create what his heart sees.

See some more art work by Romare Bearden.