A few Saturdays ago we looked at what art “is,” but what about the people behind the art? The way one sees the role of the artist in society and culture can be as personal and subjective as the pieces he or she creates, but we are pretty sure the quotes below will resonate on some level for most. From Pablo Picasso to Louise Bourgeois, some of our favourite artists weigh in on how they view their craft.

Pablo Picasso

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.

Robert A. Heinlein (in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land)

Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist – a master – and that is what Auguste Rodin was – can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is…and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…no matter what the merciless hours have done to her.

Dorothea Lange

Seeing is more than a physiological phenomenon… We see not only with our eyes but with all that we are and all that our culture is. The artist is a professional see-er.

William Faulkner

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.

Émile Zola

I am an artist… I am here to live out loud.


Francis Bacon

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.

Frida Kahlo

I paint flowers so they will not die.

Henri Matisse

The function of the artist is not to translate an observation but to express the shock of the object on his nature; the shock, with the original reaction.

George Santayana

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature.

Louise Bourgeois

An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.

About Paperblanks®: At Paperblanks®, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks®, go to our website at


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