Art is all about creativity, inspiration, defying the norm and – above all – expression. So what better way to celebrate expression than with some of the best art quotes from famous and legendary artists? From historical figures to modern icons, these art quotes transcend time and should still be used today.

Top art quotes for students to know

1.”If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” – Vincent Van Gogh

The legendary painter behind Sunflowers and Starry Night offers many motivational art quotes, but this is one of our favourites. Anyone feeling that flicker of self-doubt should remember the wise words of Vincent Van Gogh.

2. “I paint flowers so they will not die” – Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo has some of the best art quotes

The Mexican painter known for autobiographical self portraits was also known for her love of flowers. Whether it’s her headdress, home or paintings, flowers were always a feature in Frida Kahlo’s life. This art quote is hauntingly beautiful, signifying the ability of art to withstand time and death.

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

This art quote may, at first, sound a bit discouraging. However, it’s actually intended to break you free from the endless quest to achieve perfection, which doesn’t exist. In other words, or rather the words of the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, don’t waste time trying to be perfect.

4. “It is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create” – J. M. W. Turner

One of the great British painters, J. M. W. Turner offers some wise words on not being held back by fear. His quote speaks to creating art without being afraid, but it can also be applied to other things in life.

5. “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is” – Jackson Pollock

The abstract artist gets deep with this art quote. Jackson Pollock’s many quotes surround the need for modern artists to use art as a form of inner expression. No wonder painting can be therapeutic!

6. “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at—not copy it.” – Georgia O’Keefe

One of the most well-known artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keefe draws on originality and interpretation. In this quote, art is about putting emotion into work to create your own reflection of a piece. It’s quite inspiring if you think about it – as no one can will be able to produce the same as you.

7. “My life is a dot lost among thousands of other dots.” – Yayoi Kusama

polka dots

Take from this art quote what you will, but it’s often interpreted to show how we exist in the collective. Potentially – it’s a polka dot-inspired retake of “no man is an island”. We’re not sure if this is exactly what Yayoi Kusama intended to say, but it works. Beyond her infamous polka dot quotes, you can check out her work at the Tate Modern until April 2023.

8. “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” – Paul Klee

This is such a cute and simplistic way to think of drawing. Paul Klee, known for the masterpiece Tanzerin, offers a new way to look at creation. There’s no rules or boundaries – you’re just taking your line on a walk.

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

Michaelangelo, the sculptor behind the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, denotes the significance of hard work. While something may appear beautiful, it’s often because of the ugly hard work and graft behind it. Nevertheless, it has to be done to create masterpieces.

10. “Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo Da Vinci.

We perhaps saved the best ’til last. This art quote from the legendary artist is taken from his “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind”. There’s an idea behind what Da Vinci says that everything is connected. So while it’s good to focus on things, and develop your skills, keep your mind open and learn holistically.

These art quotes are just some of many to help motivate you and enjoy what great artists have to say. They showcase the passion behind creation and the importance of expression. The art quotes are also great for reflecting on yourself and wider society. Let’s see what the next generation of artists will have to say. If you’re currently thinking about studying art, take a look at our post on the best unis for fine art and top unis for art generally.