'Artist' is a title of great weight.1 An artist is making something exist by observing it.2 An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.3 The artist does not tinker with the universe, he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.4 What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time.5 Subjective artists are one-eyed, but objective artists are blind.6 All artists are illusionists of one kind or another.7 The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.8 The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.9

Although an artist sets out to convey a viewpoint or emotion, that is not to say that the viewpoint or emotion has a single meaning.10 The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.11 The artist must say it without saying it.12 The artist simply reveals, he doesn't explain.13 The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.14 Only he is an artist who can make a riddle out of a solution.15
What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn't be an artist if you didn't want to share an experience, a thought.16 An artist can have an intention, but the viewer has their own subjective experience.17 It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way not his way.18 All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work into contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.19

We're in a post-conceptual era where it's really the artist's idea and vision that are prized rather than the ability to master the crafts that support the work.20 If a person is an artist he can use the most primitive of instruments a broken knife is enough.21 The simplest means are those which best enable an artist to express himself.22 The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is the faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed.23 It's extraordinary stuff - what an artist has to do.24

If you make the best bread in the world, you're not an artist, but if you bake the bread in the gallery, you're an artist.25 The product of the artist has become less important than the fact of the artist.26 If an artist calls it art, it's art.27
Artist refers to a person, willfully enmeshed in a dilemma of categories, who performs as if none of them existed.28 An artist can use themselves as a medium to become a celebrity as a walking work of art.29 You are both a work of art and an artist at work.30 To play an artist, one must be an artist.31 Where the thought does not work together with the hand, there is no artist.32 Be your own artist, and always be confident in what you're doing.33

Artists talk a lot about freedom.34 For an artist freedom is as indispensable as talent or intelligence.35 Is it ever possible for the artist to imagine a state of absolute freedom?36 Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect.37 The world is only as free as it allows its artists to be.38
As an artist your first loyalty is to your art.39 If an artist is touched by some social condition, what the artist creates will reflect that, but you can't force it.40 When we see ourselves as artists, we no longer feel the need to impose our story on others or to defend what we believe.41 What the artist owes the world is his work; not a model for living.42 Artists are not engineers of the soul.43
An artist should distance himself from power so that he can think independently.44 To retain his dignity, an artist must live in opposition.45 The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all.46 All Artists are Anarchists.47
In any society, the artist has a responsibility.48 The artist's job is to be a witness to his time in history.49 To be an artist means never to avert one's eyes.50 Our job is, yes, to be creative, but one of our primary jobs as artists is to be fearless.51 In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent.52 Artists are the gatekeepers of truth.53 Because the land will not remember by itself, but the artist will.54
When artists make art, they shouldn't question whether it is permissible to do one thing or another.55 Artists are here to disturb the peace.56 The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.57 In art, the only one who really knows whether what you've done is honest is the artist.58

The artist is likely to be looked upon with some uneasiness by the more conservative members of society.59 To rebel or revolt against the status quo is in the very nature of an artist.60 It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man.61 Artists themselves are not confined, but their output is.62
It's interesting to see the world's fascination with a troubled artist.63 The artist is the world's scapegoat.64 An artist is his own fault.65 An artist has to pay for the gift of his genius.67 The artists must be sacrificed to their art.68

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.69 An artist needs the best studio instruction, the most rigorous demands, and the toughest criticism in order to tune up his sensibilities.70 There are no holidays for art; and that's just fine with the artist.71 Most artists work all the time, they do actually, especially good artists, they work all the time, what else is there to do?72
The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.73 As an artist you need to move on, you need to try new things.74 An artist has got to be constantly in a state of becoming.75
All artists are constantly looking for something and they don't always know what.76 The artist has to be something like a whale swimming with his mouth wide open, absorbing everything until he has what he really needs.77 An artist's job is to surprise himself.78
Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.79 With an artist, there's no such thing as perfect.80 There is in every artist's studio a scrap heap of discarded works in which the artist's discipline prevailed against his imagination.81 To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail.82 To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.83

Being an artist is hard.84 As an artist, you don't stop making art because people are not buying it.85 Writers and artists are expected to suffer poverty and privation for their art; it's a sign of authenticity.86
The business of the modern artist is itself an exemplary form of cutting-edge enterprise: dependent on brand-identity, self-commodification, opportunism, novelty, relentless networking, and a heavily blurred line between life and work.87 There are works for exhibition, others for the studio, you need to follow the public's taste if you want to succeed.. ..with some works you make your reputation with the artists, with others you do good business if possible.88
If you're an artist, it's great to have a knowledge of the business and be educated about that, but you've got to keep the balance right between business and artistry; otherwise, you get cynical.89 The artist as businessman is uglier than the businessman as artist.90

As artists get wealthier and more famous, often their work gets worse.91 Not all, but too many of the best writers, composers, and artists of our time begin to be acclaimed only when they no longer have anything to say and take to performing instead of stating.92 The public so often want to freeze the artist in a moment in time when they were at their peak, and they want the artist to revisit it over and over again as if it was something authentic.93 To be an artist is not about fame; it's about art, which is this intangible thing that has got to have lots of integrity, whereas being famous doesn't really take any integrity.94
The artist should never try to be popular.95 The concept that an artist would be revered by popular culture is an immediate dismissal of his relevance as an artist.96 Flattery of the people and incapacity to resist public opinion are the democratic vices, particularly among writers, artists, journalists and anyone else who is dependent on an audience.97 It is not the job of artists to give the audience what the audience want.98 An artist discovers his genius the day he dares not to please.99

People ask why there are so few female artists who succeed.100 Because it's difficult to have a career as an artist, and in every situation where it's difficult to have a career, it's even harder for women, for all the other reasons that it's harder in other fiercely contested fields.101 Nearly a half-century on from feminism, simply being a woman artist is still a revolutionary act.102

The most interesting thing about artists is how they live.103
The artist has the ability to take that living and use it in a certain way, and produce art.104
If artists and poets are unhappy, it is after all because happiness does not interest them.105 If you're an artist, the problem is to make a picture work whether you are happy or not.106
Being an artist and having to be responsible for the art that you make is really quite challenging, and as you get older it becomes more and more difficult.107 As an artist grows older, he has to fight disillusionment and learn to establish the same relation to nature as an adult as he had when a child.108 Being an artist is a very long game.109 There's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it.110 As an artist you should be in business until the time when you almost can't see.111
Every time an artist dies, part of the vision of mankind passes with him.112 Dead he is not, but departed, for the artist never dies.113 Dead artists always bring out an older, richer crowd.114 In an artist's life, death is perhaps not the most difficult thing.115

An artist earns the right to call himself a creator only when he admits to himself that he is but an instrument.116 To be an artist, you need to exist in a world of silence.117 All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.118 An Artist is an actual State of Being, one that moves both inside and outside the realms of a studio or creative work.119 It's the artist's responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.120
All artists are self-sacrificing human beings, and to become an artist is nothing but to devote oneself to the subterranean gods.121 The artist one day falls through a hole in the brambles, and from that moment he is following the dark rapids of an underground river which may sometimes flow so near to the surface that the laughing picnic parties are heard above.122
The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.123 Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.124 What's an artist, but the dregs of his work - the human shambles that follows it around?125 The artist does not exist except as a personification, a figure of speech that represents the sum total of art itself.126
Artists are, above all, men who want to become inhuman.127 As a human being the artist may have many moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is 'man' in a higher sense - he is 'collective man' - one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind.128 An artist is only an artist on condition that he neglects no aspect of his dual nature.129 Artists do not run away from non-being, but by encountering and wrestling with it, force it to produce being.130 The artist is behind the mirror and everybody is looking at him saying, "Oh, it's me."131
The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements.132 There is no such thing as an artist - only the world, lit or unlit, as the world allows.133

1. Irwin Greenberg 2. William S. Burroughs > 3. James Whistler 4. Henry Miller 5. Aldous Huxley > 6. Georges Rouault 7. Mike Svob 8. Pablo Picasso > 9. Willa Sibert Cather > 10. John O'Nolan > 11. Anton Chekhov 12. Duke Ellington > 13. William Eastlake > 14. Francis Bacon 15. Karl Kraus > 16. David Hockney 17. Robert Longo > 18. Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb > 19. Marcel Duchamp > 20. Jeffrey Deitch > 21. Joseph Beuys > 22. Henri Matisse > 23. Mark Rothko > 24. Gilbert & George > 25. Marina Abramovic > 26. David Mamet > 27. John Baldessari > 28. Allan Kaprow > 29. Jeffrey Deitch > 30. Erwin McManus > 31. Bruno Dumont > 32. Leonardo da Vinci 33. Aretha Franklin 34. John Cage > 35. Maxim Gorki 36. Kehinde Wiley > 37. Andrei Tarkovsky 38. Rick Rubin > 39. Margaret Atwood > 40. Susan Sontag 41. Don Miguel Ruiz > 42. Harry Crews 43. John F. Kennedy > 44. Huang Yong Ping > 45. Bruno Dumont 46. Oscar Wilde > 47. George Bernard Shaw 48. Luis Buñuel > 49. Robert Rauschenberg 50. Akira Kurosawa 51. Cate Blanchett > 52. Toni Morrison > 53. Paul Robeson > 54. Sally Mann > 55. Sol LeWitt > 56. James Baldwin > 57. H. L. Mencken > 58. Bruce Nauman 59. Ben Shahn > 60. Uta Hagen > 61. Loren Eiseley > 62. Robert Smithson > 63. Jim Rowe 64. Jacob Epstein > 65. John O'Hara 66. Mark Owen Lee > 67. Ralph Waldo Emerson > 69. Émile Zola 70. Wayne Thiebaud 71. Elfriede Jelinek > > 72. David Hockney 73. John Updike > 74. Graciela Iturbide 75. Bob Dylan > 76. Jacob Lawrence 77. Romare Bearden > 78. Robert Henri 79. Eugene Delacroix > 80. Alexander Calder 81. Robert Breault / Robert Brault 82. Samuel Beckett > 83. Jasper Johns > 84. Rudy Rucker > 85. Damien Hirst 86. Jessica Zafra > 87. Ben Jeffery > 88. Marie-Joséphine-Cornélie Thomas > 89. Gugu Mbatha-Raw 90. Ad Reinhardt > 91. Martin Parr > 92. Clement Greenberg > 93. David Sylvian > 94. Damien Hirst 95. Oscar Wilde 96. Thomas Kinkade 97. Allan Bloom > 98. Alan Moore 99. André Malraux 100. Marina Abramovic 101. Elizabeth Price > 102. Jerry Saltz > 103. Marcel Duchamp 104. Audre Lorde > 105. George Santayana > 106. Willem de Kooning 107. Tracey Emin > 108. Charles E. Burchfield > 109. Anish Kapoor > 110. Henry Moore 111. Roloff Beny 112. Franklin D. Roosevelt > 113. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > 114. Elizabeth Shaw > 115. Vincent van Gogh 116. Henry Miller 117. Louise Bourgeois 118. Eckhart Tolle > 119. John Donne 120. Patti Smith > 121. Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel 122. Cyril Connolly 123. T.S. Eliot > 124. Oscar Wilde > 125. William Gaddis 126. Harold Rosenberg > 127. Guillaume Apollinaire 128. C.G. Jung 129. Charles Baudelaire > 130. Rollo May 131. Christian Boltanski > 132. Anais Nin > 133. Annie Dillard

This text was compiled from quotations found online containing the word 'artist'. Many of these quotes can be found on multiple quote websites, attributed to their alleged sources without references. The quotes for which a reference was found, have a link marked with >. Original launch: 8/11/12. Last update: 25/10/23.