Design Inspiration – 10 quotes to get your creative juices flowing

Whether you are a designer, business owner, writer, scientist, or tax advisor: It is likely your job involves at least some tasks that require creativity. And even if your work leaves no space for creativity, your private life surely does: The way you dress, make your food or interact with loved ones can be a means of creative expression. As Bukowski once said: “Even opening a can of tin can be an art”. It all depends on how you do it.

Most of us also know what it means to feel run down, uninspired or burnt out: It happens to the best of us. But don’t worry: We’ve assembled our favourite inspirational quotes from great artists, designers and innovators to help you get you motivated, inspired and ready to create.

10 quotes to get your creative juices flowing

1. Leonardo DaVinci

It may be surprising to hear such a statement from Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519). After all, this Renaissance man is one of the most famous polymaths of all time.

Inspirational Quote by Leonardo DaVinci
Inspirational Quote by Leonardo DaVinci

But despite his impressive scale of knowledge and skill in areas spanning art, anatomy, science, architecture, and many other subjects, he understood that keeping things simple is the hardest and most powerful thing of all.

2. Paul Rand

Paul Rand (1914-1996) is one of the most famous graphic designers of all time. He understood the true power of design: We are constantly surrounded and affected by it. From the buildings around us to our coffee mug: Everything is designed. Even trees are programmed to grow a certain way.

Inspirational Quote by Paul Rand - Image by Jordi Ferrer
Inspirational Quote by Paul Rand – Image by Jordi Ferrer

Realizing the true power of design can help us understand the powerful subconscious effect of every design choice we make. Great power comes with great responsibility. While an awareness of the power we hold may freeze us up instead of freeing our creativity, it is important to also keep it playful…

3. Eddie Martinez

Eddie Martinez is part of the legendary dance company “Tanztheater Wuppertal”. His quote highlights the importance of curiosity as a driving force in reaching excellence. What is true for dance is definitely true for design.

Inspirational Quote by Eddie Martinez
Inspirational Quote by Eddie Martinez

4. Maya Angelou

We live in a fast-paced world. The writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou knew what is truly important.

Inspirational Quote by Mayba Angelou
Inspirational Quote by Mayba Angelou – Image by Russell Mondy

5. Jessica Walsh

Jessica Walsh is one of the most successful graphic designers in New York. It takes balls to innovate. Dare to be different and trust your instincts…no more words needed.

Inspirational Quote by Jessica Walsh
Inspirational Quote by Jessica Walsh – Image by Dusdrincondren /Sagmeister&Walsh

6. Charles Bukowski

The poet Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) knew what it’s about…but he wasn’t the only artist to highlight the importance of food…

Inspirational Quote by Charles Bukowski
Inspirational Quote by Charles Bukowski

7. John Cage

The musician John Cage (1912-1992) knew that anything can be a source of inspiration. If you are experiencing a creative block there is a simply way out:

Spend time doing or learning something that has nothing to do with your creative occupation. The most unexpected source is most likely to end up inspiring you in surprising ways…

Inspirational Quote by John Cage
Inspirational Quote by John Cage

8. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) and his company Apple have transformed the contemporary world in multiple ways. He was famous for his obsession with every detail of his process as he strived for simplicity, functionality, and excellence.

And yet he also knew the importance of experiencing life to its fullest. So don’t forget to leave the office or studio: An unlived life leads to boring design. Anything you experience, whether good or bad, can be used as creative fuel.

Quote by Steve Jobs – image from Jukai Fujiki

9. Scott Adams

Many artists including the graphic designer Paula Sher know the importance of making mistakes and allowing yourself to fail. She famously said that “It’s through your mistakes that you actually grow… You have to get bad in order to get good”.

The contemporary cartoonist Scott Adams took this idea further:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Design is knowing which ones to keep - Scott Adams Quote
Quote by Scott Adams

You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

10. Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (1667- 1745), an enlightenment writer famous for “Guilliver’s travels”, is credited with having invented the name “Vanessa”. How’s that for innovation?

Inspirational Quote by Jonathan Swift
Inspirational Quote by Jonathan Swift

10 Great Resources to Inspire your Creativity

If you want to know more about the people who said these inspiring words, we recommend for you to check out these inspirational resources…

1. “Leonardo DaVinci” by Walter Isaakson.

The New York Times called Walter Isaacson’s besteller “a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it”.

Leonardo da Vinci

 in stock
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as of May 11, 2024 17:08

2. Paul Rand’s “Thoughts on Design”:

This book, written by Paul Rand, is less than 100 pages long and has become a must in the library of every designer.

Thoughts on Design

$9.99  in stock
as of May 11, 2024 17:08

3. Wim Wender’s dancefilm “Pina”

This film about the dance legend Pina Bausch is a masterpiece. Its visual poetry is surely to inspire any designer. You can watch it on Amazon Prime or get the DVD.


$4.49  in stock
as of May 11, 2024 17:08

4. Maya Angelou’s autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing”

The autobiography of this civil rights leader and poet is a life-affirming work that shows us how even the worst of circumstances can give rise to immense beauty and strength.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

 in stock
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as of May 11, 2024 17:08

5. “Beauty” by Sagmeister&Walsh

This is more than a book: It is a manifesto and a work of art.
This book was created by Jessica Walsh in collaboration with the enfant-terrible of the design world Stefan Sagmeister. In this stunningly designed volume, the rebellious design-duo goes in search for what seems to have gone out of fashion in the design and art world…this book has set itself no smaller task than the rehabilitation of beauty.

Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty

 in stock
35 new from $33.16
22 used from $33.67
as of May 11, 2024 17:08

6. Bukowski’s “Post Office”

While this is not a book about design, this seminal work by one of the world’s most famous writers is sure to entertain and inspire…

Post Office: A Novel

 in stock
32 new from $8.94
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as of May 11, 2024 17:08

7. “Silence” by John Cage

John Cage’s work and writing illustrate how much is already there- even in emptiness and silence. No matter whether you are a musician, designer, artist, or none of the above: If you are looking for inspiration you will find it here.

Silence: Lectures and Writings, 50th Anniversary Edition

 in stock
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as of May 11, 2024 17:08

8. Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs”

This is the second Walter Isaacson biography on our list. And with good reason: This bestselling book is a must-read for anyone interested in innovation and design.

Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson (2011-11-04)

 out of stock
16 new from $21.59
9 used from $7.26
as of May 11, 2024 17:08

9. “Make it bigger” by Paula Sher

This volume, written and illustrated by graphic-design titan Paula Sher, is another must-have for any designer, artist, or design-lover.

Make It Bigger

$69.00  in stock
3 used from $69.00
Free shipping
as of May 11, 2024 17:08

10. Jonathan Swift’s Essential Writings

This collection of classical works (including “Gulliver’s Travels” ) can teach us a thing or two about satire.

The Essential Writings of Jonathan Swift (Norton Critical Editions)

$29.57  in stock
8 new from $25.00
19 used from $11.08
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as of May 11, 2024 17:08

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