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20 Quotes From Major Artists to Help You Smash Your Career
Well, we're here to stop that downward spiral of negative thought in its tracks
Art Stuff 11 Jan 2022

The new year is here and for some of us our resolutions are already waining, our co-workers already seem to already be ahead of us in productivity, and we’ve already resigned ourselves to another mediocre month. Sound familiar? Well, we’re here to stop that downward spiral of negative thought in its tracks.

Working in the arts is no walk in the park, and it was no different (well, maybe a bit different) for the artists who are now heralded as the world’s best. We’ve dug up some of our favourite motivational quotes from our art historical heroes to act as verbal cheerleaders for you today.

Whether only one of these quotes or many feel relevant to you, they help you at work, in your passion project, or just in general, we hope they give you a much needed boost.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Picasso

Say what you like about Picasso, he did say some absolutely legendary one-liners. We take this quote to mean “do and make time for what you love and it will bring joy to your everyday life” – you might not be able to quit your job and live on a paradise island full-time, but finding time to be creative and following your passions will bring that peace and happiness into your world.

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

Are you currently seeking, striving, and invested with all your heart into what you’re doing right now? If not, why? Find what you would you could be doing that would give you Vincent’s all-encompassing drive, and pursue it. You only live once.

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

Maybe it’s time to make that leap to invest in your future and go full-time with your passion project, or maybe your current work needs to you go in a bold new direction. It’ll be scary, but you’re tough and it’ll be so worth it.

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Salvador Dali

Perfectionism got you paralysed? Do like Dali and have a go at what you’d like to eventually perfect – it doesn’t matter if it ends up just being an imitation of someone else’s much better attempt.

“To create one’s own world takes courage.” Georgia O’Keeffe

It can be hard to follow your instinct and make the decisions that will best serve you in the long run if you worry about what other people are going to say. Ignore those voices of doubt, and start living for YOU.

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” Auguste Rodin

When was the last time you truly felt elated in the way that Rodin is describing? Find what makes you tremble, fills you with hope and love, and reminds you that you are alive.

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing – and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Another one from Georgia here. Remember that there’s “no such thing” as success or failure – you’re not on anyone else’s schedule but your own, and you are in control of your destiny. You are creative, powerful, and important – make your mark.

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

There are probably people doing what you want to do, who are further along in their careers than you, and it can feel like there’s not enough room for your voice too. There is.

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” Marc Chagall

Is overthinking your worst enemy? Same. Try to let go a little and follow your intuition rather than your 100-step plan. You’ll be surprised at the results.

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

Salvador again, reminding us to not take ourselves too seriously and not to put “perfect” on a pedestal when we could be getting on with our lives and fully enjoying “good”.

“There is no must in art because art is free.” Wassily Kandinsky

Throw out the rule book for what you think “achievement”, “success”, “good art”, “talent” means. Art (and life) is all about freedom and the spaces in-between.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo

Don’t beat yourself if someone else appears to be smashing your goals while you are at square one. You’re on your journey to achieving everything you want – but you’re going to need to put in the hours.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh

Social media and advertisements are constantly blaring “quick and easy” solutions to our life’s problems. These kinds of fixes (whether it be 3-steps to getting that big promotion within your first 3 months at a company, dropping a dress size in a week, or the magic words to say to get your crush to fall in love with you) never work, but consistent small changes and efforts do.

“Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.” Pablo Picasso

It’s not enough to be talented, you’ve got to be grinding for what you want, too. Put in the work and trust that you will reap the rewards later.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

One from the world of literature now – this advice is true whatever your passion may be. Do that thing imperfectly – do it badly, even – because the reason to do it is because you love it, not because you’re good at it.

“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”  Keith Haring

Find yourself over-analysing your output to the extent that you’re no longer enjoying what you once loved? Sounds like it’s time to refresh your priorities, and the priorities Keith has laid out here sound like a great place to start.

“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action.” Judy Chicago

We’re taking two things away from this quote from Judy. One – believe that you are what you want to be. You want to be a writer one day, and you’ve written a couple of blog posts? Say you’re a writer! You like to paint in your spare time and would love to be an artist full-time in the distant future? You are an artist! Two – put in the “action” and fulfil your wants.

“Look at life with the eyes of a child.” Henri Matisse

Does a four year old worry about whether the tower they just made out of blocks is going to please the people around them? Are they overthinking whether they should wear those dungarees if they want to be taken seriously? Do they care what other people think when they run around scaring pigeons in the park? No way. Live your life with that same abandon.

“I just decided, when someone says you can’t do something. DO MORE OF IT.” Faith Ringgold

Women, LGBTQIA+ community members, and disabled folk are often told what they can/should not do. Prove the haters wrong and show them what you’re capable of.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” Leonardo da Vinci

Hate your soul-destroying job, and yet wonder why you’re not making the steps up the corporate ladder you “should” be by now? Like Leonardo says, if your spirit’s not in it, then the magic isn’t there either.

Author: Verity Babbs

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