Artistic Wisdom - Quotes on Art and the Creative Process

At the start, this article was set to be something else entirely. I had grand ideas of compiling a great many tidbits of technical information to help musicians and artists get better at doing what they do. That idea fell quickly by the wayside when I received a single heartfelt response from a talented artist I had contacted, a current leader in the music industry. His message came in response to my admittedly self-serving question regarding the potential importance of writing on such a topic.

His response prompted me to take this entire article in a new direction - delving into aspects of music and, indeed, all artistic pursuits that should never be overlooked, yet often are. Love, devotion, experimentation, etc.. These facets of all artistic endeavors lend credence to the creative yet absolve it of the detached.

His answer made me realize the importance of values in all creative careers and inspired me to compile not a series of technical tips, but a small collection of quotes on this worthy topic. I hope anyone who reads this finds inspiration and encouragement.


Writing is the life blood of the music industry. Without creative writers we would be subjected to the same everyday mundane music. Creative writers create trends. Creative people will always keep us looking forward to new styles of music. -Leon Youngblood, Sr.


I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart. -Vincent van Gogh


In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine. -Ralph Waldo Emerson


Competitions are for horses, not artists. -Bela Bartok


To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. -Robert Schumann


Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing. -Marc Chagall


The only love affair I have ever had was with music. -Maurice Ravel


A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. -Paul Cezanne


Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. -Berthold Auerbach

Music is the shorthand of emotion. -Leo Tolstoy


Art is a shadow of what a person is thinking... a small glimpse of what they hold inside. Little secrets, regrets, joys... every line has its own meaning. -Sarah


There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. -William P. Merrill


It is for every normal human being to be an artist. It is his divine heritage, every child is an artist. Human society kills it in us before we reach maturity. -Dudley Crafts Watson


Art and composition tolerate no conventional fetters: mind and soul soar above them. -Joseph Haydn


Doing art... anything creative, is just a spiritual thing to do. I almost feel like every comic strip I do is sort of a little prayer. And I really feel like the only thing real is love. -Patrick McDonnell


There is no truer truth obtainable by man than comes of music. -Robert Browning


Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is. -Willa Cather


Mozart composed music of radiant vivacity, sparkle, and wit at times when he was crushed by neglect, debt, and the awful discouragement of living his whole life insufficiently compensated and recognized. -Marcia Davenport


A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. -Albert Camus


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams


A great artist is always before his time or behind it. -George Moore


Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. -Harriet Braiker


Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don't like — then cultivate it. That's the only part of your work that's individual and worth keeping. -Jean Cocteau


Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. -Author unknown


There is in every artist's studio a scrap heap of discarded works in which the artist's discipline prevailed against his imagination. -Robert Brault


Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others. -Mark Twain


I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. -Kurt Vonnegut


Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. -Dale Carnegie


A song ain't nothing in the world but a story just wrote with music to it. -Hank Williams, Sr.


Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better. -André Gide

Hopefully, these quotes come to you at just the right time. Be inspired! And, most importanly, be odd!

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