Creativity Quotes

Vast collection of creativity quotes. Learn how to develop your creativity from these quotes by famous people.

Be encouraged if your creative ideas have not been accepted. There is even a section on the rejections of great ideas and people. Be persistent and see your creative efforts gain acceptance.

If you want to learn more about creativity, see the teaching video on Creative Vision by Napoleon Hill.

Creativity Quotes Index

About Creativity
Barriers to Creativity
Creative Mindset
Creative vs. Uncreative Mind
Creativity and Play
Creativity and Problems
Creativity in the Workplace
Creativity vs. Imagination
Creativity vs. Innovation
Education vs. Creativity
How to Develop Creativity
How to Foster Creativity in Others
Rejections of Creative Ideas/People
Think Outside the Box
Value of Creativity

About Creativity

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."
~ Erich Fromm

"No great thing is created suddenly."
~ Epictetus

"Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions."
~ Gerald Holton

"The human mind cannot create anything. It produces nothing until after having been fertilized by experience and meditation; its acquisitions are the gems of its production."
~ Georges-louis Leclerc Buffon

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
~ Albert Einstein

"Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity."
~ Chuck Jones, Warner Bros. animator

"Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one's face."
~ James D. Finley

"Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self."
~ Erich Fromm

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"Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist."
~ Thomas Disch

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks,breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
~ Mary Lou Cook

"Joy is but the sign that creative emotion is fulfilling its purpose."
~ Charles Du Bos

"Creativity is essentially a lonely art.An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse.It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea."
~ Lou Dorfsman

"Creativity involves breaking out of established patternsin order to look at things in a different way."
~ Edward De Bono

"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."
~ Charles Mingus

"Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected."
~ William Plomer

"In the creative state a man is taken out of himself."
~ E.M. Forster

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Barriers to Creativity

"Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future."
~ James Bertrand

"That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of our time."
~ John Stuart Mill

"The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it."
~ Dee Hock

"The opposite of creativity is cynicism."
~ Esa Saarinen

"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things."
~ Ray Bradbury

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"The world is but a canvas to our imaginations."
~ Henry David Thoreau

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
~ Michelangelo

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

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Creative Mindset

"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen."
~ Carl Ally

"Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible -- he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are."
~ Frank Goble

"Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?"
~ Robert Kennedy

"There's a way to do it better—find it."
~ Thomas Edison

"Replace either/or thinking with plus thinking."
~ Craig Hickman

"I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them."
~ Pablo Picasso

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"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
~ Lewis Carroll

"Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play."
~ Henri Matisse

"Trust that little voice in your head that says 'Wouldn't it be interesting if...' And then do it."
~ Duane Michals, "More Joy of Photography"

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating."
~ Pearl Buck

"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."
~ Leo Burnett

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

"The creative person is willing to live with ambiguity. He doesn't need problems solved immediately and can afford to wait for the right ideas."
~ Abe Tannenbaum

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Creative vs. Uncreative Mind

"The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions."
~ Anthony Jay

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Creativity and Play

"Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work."
~ James Ogilvy

"A person might be able to play without being creative, but he sure can't be creative without playing."
~ Kurt Hanks and Jay Parry

"What we call creative work, ought not to be called work at all, because it isn't. I imagine that Thomas Edison never did a day's work in his last fifty years."
~ Stephen B. Leacock

"When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity."
~ Linda Naiman

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Creativity and Problems

"Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."
~ Albert Einstein

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science."
~ Albert Einstein

"Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem."
~ Brian Aldiss

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Creativity in the Workplace

"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
~ Lawrence Miller

"Companies have to nurture [creativity and motivation]—and have to do it by building a compassionate yet performance-driven corporate culture. In the knowledge economy the traditional soft people side of our business has become the new hard side."
~ Gay Mitchell, Executive VP, HR, Royal Bank

"Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits."
~ Edward de Bono

"An inventor is simply a person who doesn't take his education too seriously. You see, from the time a person is six years old until he graduates from college he has to take three or four examinations a year. If he flunks once, he is out. But an inventor is almost always failing. He tries and fails maybe a thousand times. It he succeeds once then he's in. These two things are diametrically opposite. We often say that the biggest job we have is to teach a newly hired employee how to fail intelligently. We have to train him to experiment over and over and to keep on trying and failing until he learns what will work."
~ Charles Kettering

"The organizations of the future will increasingly depend on the creativity of their members to survive. Great Groups offer a new model in which the leader is an equal among Titans. In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure, and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause."
~ Warren Bennis

"In the modern world of business it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman."
~ David M. Ogilvy

"The achievement of excellence can occur only if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
~ Lawrence Miller

"The things we fear most in organizations-fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances-are the primary sources of creativity."
~ Margaret J. Wheatley

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Creativity vs. Imagination

"The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates."
~ Oscar Wilde

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Creativity vs. Innovation

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things."
~ Theodore Levitt

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"It seems safe to say that significant discovery, really creative thinking, does not occur with regard to problems about which the thinker is lukewarm."
~ Mary Henle

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
~ Albert von Szent-Gyorgy

"Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried."
~ Frank Tyger

"The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things, but by contemplating the floating of things which floated naturally, and then intelligently asking why they did so."
~ Thomas Troward, The Dore Lectures on Mental Science 1909

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Education vs. Creativity

"It is wise to learn; it is God-like to create."
~ John Saxe

"It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life."
~ Barthold Georg Niebuhr

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
~ Albert Einstein

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"Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
~ Thomas Edison

"In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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How to Develop Creativity

Top 10 Creative Rules of Thumb:
1. The best way to get great ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.

2. Create ideas that are 15 minutes ahead of their time...not light years ahead.

3. Always look for a second right answer.

4. If at first you don't succeed, take a break.

5. Write down your ideas before you forget them.

6. If everyone says you are wrong, you're one step ahead. If everyone laughs at you, you're two steps ahead.

7. The answer to your problem "pre-exists." You need to ask the right question to reveal the answer.

8. When you ask a dumb question, you get a smart answer.

9. Never solve a problem from its original perspective.

10. Visualize your problem as solved before solving it.
~ Chalres Chic Thompson

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"Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out."
~ Tina Turner

"We try not to have ideas, preferring accidents. To create, you must empty yourself of every artistic thought."
~ Gilbert George

"To be creative you have to contribute something different from what you've done before. Your results need not be original to the world; few results truly meet that criterion. In fact, most results are built on the work of others."
~ Lynne C. Levesque, Breakthrough Creativity

"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
~ Edwin H. Land

"When you are completely absorbed or caught up in something, you become oblivious to things around you, or to the passage of time. It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imagination."
~ Dr. Rollo May

"In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone."
~ Dr. Rollo May

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How to Foster Creativity in Others

"When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: “Only stand out of my light.” Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light."
~ John W. Gardner

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
~ George Smith Patton, War as I Knew It, 1947

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"The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed. When this happens they need a kick in the seat of the pants."
~ Roger von Oech

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
~ Howard Aiken

"I'm creative - you can't expect me to be neat too."
~ Unknown

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"Ideas are the root of creation."
~ Ernest Dimnet

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come."
~ Isaac Newton

"Capital isn't so important in business. Experience isn't so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn't any limit to what you can do with your business and your life."
~ Harvey Firestone

"It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date."
~ Roger von Oech

"To have a great idea, have a lot of them."
~ Thomas Edison

"The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away."
~ Dr. Linus Pauling

"Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game."
~ Goethe

"What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules."
~ Christopher Nolan (via Dom Cobb in the 2010 movie: Inception)

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"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions"
~ Albert Einstein

"The Possible's slow fuse is lit by the Imagination."
~ Emily Dickinson

"Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life."
~ Simone Weil

"Imagination is the highest kite one can fly."
~ Unknown

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
~ George Bernard Shaw

"There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination."
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
~ Albert Einstein

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
~ Mark Twain

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"The strongest nation on earth is your imagi-nation."
~ Matt Furey

"Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring."
~ Terri Guillemets

"Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun."
~ George Scialabba

"Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless."
~ amie Paolinetti

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

"Science does not know its debt to imagination."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Even the wildest dreams have to start somewhere. Allow yourself the time and space to let your mind wander and your imagination fly."
~ Oprah Winfrey

"Everything you can imagine is real."
~ Pablo Picasso

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"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
~ Steve Jobs

"Innovation— any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience."
~ Warren Bennis

"Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form."
~ Watts Humprey

"The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams."
~ W. Arthur Porter

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"A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something."
~ Frank Capra

"Creativity - like human life itself - begins in darkness."
~ Julia Cameron

"When all think alike, then no one is thinking."
~ Walter Lippman

"Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart."
~ Mencius (Meng-Tse), 4th century BCE

"Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual."
~ Arthur Koestler

"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found."
~ James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

"Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."
~ Picasso

"We know where most of the creativity, the innovation, the stuff that drives productivity lies - in the minds of those closest to the work."
~ Jack Welch

"When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."
~ Buckminster Fuller

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"Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful: yourself."
~ Alan Alda

"You were born an original. Don't die a copy."
~ John Mason.

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"An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate."
~ De Chateaubriand

"All profoundly original art looks ugly at first."
~ Clement Greenberg

"The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity."
~ Thomas Carlyle

"If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original."
~ Sir Ken Robinson

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"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work."
~ Rita Mae Brown

"Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly."
~ Bhagavad Gita

"I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent."
~ Thomas Edison

"We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance."
~ Benjamin Disraeli

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
~ Edwin Land

"The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time."
~ Henry Ford

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Rejections of Creative Ideas/People

"What use could the company make of an electric toy?"
~ Western Union, when it turned down rights to the telephone in 1878

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible."
~ Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
~ Charles H. Duell, Director of US Patent Office 1899

"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."
~ Grover Cleveland, 1905

"Ruth made a big mistake when he gave up pitching."
~ Tris Speaker, 1921

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
~ Robert Miliham, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

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"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
~ Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros Pictures, 1927

"Video won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
~ Daryl F. Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, commenting on television in 1946

We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
~ Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"The horse is here today, but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad."
~ President of Michigan Savings Bank advising against investing in the Ford Motor Company

"...too stupid to learn anything"
~ Thomas Edison’s teacher

"...lacked imagination and had no original ideas."
~ What a newspaper editor said to Walt Disney’s when he fired him

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Think Outside the Box

"All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new."
~ Charles Kettering

"If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail."
~ Heraclitus

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Value of Creativity

"Creation is a drug I can't do without."
~ Cecil B. DeMille

"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

"The joy is in creating, not maintaining."
~ Vince Lombardi

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” -
~ Margaret MeadI never feel age ... If you have creative work, you don't have age or time."
~ Louise Nevelson

"When you unleash your creativity, a whole new world opens at your feet. The sun becomes brighter and the birds sing louder. Like a child running free at recess, you laugh, run, and explore, thrilled to be alive."
~ Tess Marshall

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
~ John F. Kennedy (American President)

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