Dedicated to inspiring digital artists all over the world!
As digital painters, we’re lucky to be part of a constantly thriving and supportive community.
Fellow digital artists create endlessly inspiring new works of art, and fans back us every step of the way, whether with a thoughtful comment, a simple like and follow, or the purchase of a print. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love for a living.
Whether you’re an aspiring pro looking to develop your painting skills and secure your first commission, or an Illustration From Imagination grad about to take on your 100th, you know that community is a big part of Paintable. So in the spirit of supporting those who inspire us in the digital art community, I’ve collected 21 quotes from some of the most popular and successful in the business!
But these aren’t just motivational quotes — they’re real, thoughtful insights into each hand-picked artist’s journey, plus advice on achieving your own painting goals!
Get a sample of some of their most inspiring pieces of art (there’s really something here for everyone, no matter what your style!), along with links to all their social profiles, portfolios, and online stores so that you can support your favorites, whether you grab a new print for your home office, buy them a Ko-fi, or give them an Insta like!
Loving the inspiration? You can download the PDF to stay inspired all year long. 👇
“This is what I’ve learned on a journey thats led me to live my dreams every single day since creating my own IP.
Be hungry. Be inspired. Be dangerous. Take risks even if you know you may fall. Learn, learn, learn and listen to your gut. This is your story. Your own hero’s journey.
Manifest the impossible by watering your dreams every day with thought and care. Leave the farm, escape the boring system and become infinite through your own creations, worlds and universes.
You came here to inspire, to lead by example and to live through Creation. To leave something behind and to inspire the next generation of artists.
If you’re here for fame, glory and prestige; the above will mean absolutely nothing to you. To those who do perceive what I’m saying—I await you in Nirvana.”
“Firstly please don’t take advice from experts like they are rules for anything, use these bits of advice but have your own opinion, question everything and agree to disagree.
Maybe one thing that sort of released me from weird anxiety was when I realized that I’m not in competition with other artists out there. I guess I realized there is room enough and opportunity for all of us. Nobody can do what I can do and I am definitely not able to do what everybody else does, and that’s perfectly fine. Just do your thing, try to spend some time alone when you can and talk to yourself, find your inner voice and be completely honest with it, understand that there will always be things for you to learn. Please make mistakes because that’s the best way to progress in anything.
Another important thing: it’s not about a particular kind of brush, the brush itself is not going to do anything, it’s about how you use it and what you make of it. You just have to make these tools work for you and not the other way around.”
“My favorite saying is ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. For me, it means that you can see beauty in every piece. And when you observe it, you should try to comprehend why it is beautiful. Is it because of shapes, colors or does it symbolize something? After that, try to draw this feeling you get from an object.
Also, I love to look at and analyze other artists’ works, because everyone is different and they all have their own view.
And of course, you should practice your technique, anatomy, composition etc :)”
“I believe it’s absolutely crucial to nurture curiosity and accept the fact that you’ll never be fully formed – no artist ever is. We all keep practicing, both our creative mindset and craft with every piece we work on. I firmly believe there is no such thing as a failure in art – only learning. That feeling of a piece not turning out the way you intended is something all artists feel and can be a positive force; if you let it, your own art will surprise you.”
“If you feel like being an artist is what you really want to do in your life go for it all the way. Don’t let anything or anyone change your attitude and always follow your heart. Don’t lose your energy on things that don’t matter or you cannot change, and rather spend it on the creative process.
At the end of the day it is what makes you happy. If that is your passion, you love creating new designs, coming up with new worlds or stories you will not need to work a single day in your life. Furthermore value and respect yourself, people you work with and be professional.”
“The most important thing is to have clear goals, and follow up on them with plans and consistency. Only clear goals can keep me passionate with what I do, even if it’s hard, even if I keep failing.
By accumulating small goals, I can reach my big goal. Take myself, for example, in the beginning of my career, my goal was as simple as making good art, so I put extra miles into every single bit of work that I got. That led me to my big goal, of becoming a professional illustrator. “
“Know what you want, and strive towards that goal with a learning mindset, even if that goal changes over time!
At some point in time we all get mesmerized by a certain artist and their style, so what do you do? You study their style to see what part of it makes it so appealing to you. In most cases it’s not everything that you like, it could be their use of light and colors, or their brush stroke efficiency or just their subject matter. Then all of a sudden you’re aware that you actually really like to draw that particular thing. If you repeat this process and take many small samples of what you like in other people’s work you’ll develop your own path quickly.
Don’t try to force a style. It’s all too common for young artists to say, “I don’t have a style!” but you already have, you just haven’t honed the skills yet to convey that style. A style is just a very personal taste, it’s the way you look at the world and translate it onto paper. Studying the world around you and the works of others helps you find what it is that you actually love to work on and want to get better at.
And someone who loves working on their art with a mindset like this will surely develop the right skillset to be hired in the professional world, whether this is highly realistic illustrations or cartoony comics!”
“The concept art and illustration industry demands speed and efficiency, which puts a lot of pressure on aspiring artists to be fast. As a result, I think people tend to put a detrimental focus on how fast they are creating work. They don’t slow down and process what they are creating, they speed past mistakes instead of analyzing and learning from them, and their research and inspiration doesn’t usually go much further than other rushed “speed paintings” that are on the front page of Artstation or Facebook. Generic art clones are the result.
Don’t be an art clone; instead, strive to be unique. Slow down. Analyze and process what you’re studying. Experiment. Make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. Absorb inspiration from all sources (nature, old dead painters, new alive painters, history, and even your own unique life experiences). Not only will you become a skilled, unique artist — you will indirectly gain the speed and efficiency that this industry demands as a by-product of your efforts.”
“Use references! As an illustrator, you’ll have to paint a lot of imaginary things that don’t exist, but that only means you’ll have to be a bit more creative from where you get your references. For example, for creatures, looking at different animals, or mixing mechanical parts to create spaceships, etc. To get the best results possible in your paintings, you have to use believable poses and lighting in your characters.”
“Take it seriously. When you are a freelance illustrator you don’t have a grumpy boss forcing you to work harder and making sure that you don’t waste time with social media or other distractions, so be disciplined. Work every day. If you don’t have commissions then use that time to study or to promote yourself. Respect your clients and RESPECT THE DEADLINES.”
“Don’t rush. Take your time to learn, improve your skills, and establish a good foundation. From there you can gradually keep learning.
I’ve seen people jumping into concept art using all kind of fancy techniques, from photobashing to kitbash, etc., without having a minimum knowledge of composition, anatomy, perspective, etc. If you don’t have a good foundation, you are just ignoring and hiding your weak points. It’s time to face these areas of improvement. Ignoring them won’t lead to anything good in the future.
I’ve worked with concept artists that – when they were asked to do a rough quick sketch – didn’t even know how to start. All they knew was to create a fully finished and over rendered piece, in a longer time frame.
It’s good to know and use different techniques that help working faster and with a better quality, but knowing the basics of drawing and painting will take your pieces to the next level and will make you a better, faster and more versatile artist.”
“The Number One piece of advice I’d give to someone who wanted to get into this industry is– well, I don’t think there is one. What you need to hear varies, from the kind of person you are, to where you are in Life, to where you are in artistic growth (which, although they overlap, are two very different things indeed) But then again, there are thoughts and musings that pop in the mind after a period of frustrating table flipping and those rare moments of artistic ecstasy that we treasure so much. So today I’d like to share one of those thoughts with you, as it pertains to far reaching artistic goals.
The goals I had when I started out in this exciting yet nervous venture five years ago are different to the ones I have now. This should come as no surprise, of course. People change (even artists!) When I was naught but a beginner, the prospect of grabbing the weeds of anatomy, perspective, color theory or lighting and the seemingly endless array of things to learn was what drove me forward. Of course, and it still does. But after a period of spending time in the mind numbing realm of art slops, I realized that I needed something wholesome, something finished, where a picture is a part of larger whole, and isn’t something made to feed the endless social media algorithms. I needed a Project. I realized what got me to those moments of artistic ecstasy was when I hacked and chipped away at the hurdles in my path, and not because I laid back, happy with what I was fortunate to have (there are definitely moments when I forget this, so it’s good to remind yourself once in a while). My next hurdle will be to create my own project. What is this project, you ask? It could be anything, as long as there is a substantial product at the end. It could be something huge or crazy like an animated short film or a game, it could be a book or a comic. Apart from the obvious lucrative potential at hand (but of course, as artists we don’t think of such things), there is a much more fulfilling creative endeavor to be had here. If not a Kickstarter campaign, it could be a portfolio for future opportunities, the possibilities are endless!
So, dear reader. I invite you to create a project of your very own. Do you have a dream game or movie that you wish existed? Well, there’s no point waiting. You can create a book bursting with concept art / illustrations for this potential product. Or is it a children’s book you fancy, or a graphic novel, or an illustrated Artbook or a minute long animation?
We could all start own projects right now if all of us put our minds to it. But alas, people don’t work like that. Which is fine, we work with what we have. So I invite you to let your imagination and world building skills go wild, but I also urge you to finish it. You might worry your project might suck at the end. Well, guess what? It probably will. But that didn’t stop you when you became an artist and it shouldn’t stop you now. In the words of the great Jake Parker- “It should be Finished not Perfect.” And so I’m trying forgo perfection to carry on in my artistic journey and create a book. But it’s not my be-all, end-all project. I don’t think there is such a thing. Of course, we all have grandiose ideas floating around, but I suggest you start small and that you start with something. No matter what you end up with, you will have learned a lot on the way and maybe something to hold in your own hands in glee.”
“Do not believe in yourself, that is dangerous. Watch yourself with caution and earn your own trust, but never let it be blind.
There is a chance that this is the worst advice ever, but this approach helped me improve a lot. I think.
There’s always more of what you do not know, than of what you do. It doesn’t matter that you spent your ten thousand hours practicing like a good little artist, it doesn’t matter that you did this exact same face hundred times before, don’t be lazy, look at some new reference, I assure you there’s something you missed.
Do things in your own time. Don’t worry if you don’t have a personal style, even after years of drawing. Focus on learning as much as you can and try becoming exceptional that way. It is highly probable that a style will creep upon you without you noticing.”
“The way to succeed as an artist isn’t some great or mysterious challenge. The secret should be unveiled: we work hard, and the main thing we focus our thoughts on is our work.
What you’re gonna receive back is what you focus on. If you want to be professional someday, you need to focus on art, and on learning. And after time (it depends only on your diligence how long it will take) you will succeed. Art is hard, but remember that the coolest masters also started somewhere and their artworks were very weak when they were at the beginning of their journey. There’s no magic in our universe! Draw! Analyze! :D”
“I’m not so good with motivational words, but all that I think about at the moment is: know my own goals, keep learning, don’t give up, and be punctual with deadlines.
Learning can be from tutorials. But when there are no tutorials, I will come up with my own way to produce artworks with similar quality as theirs.”
“Have fun and do what you love!
I know right… What a cliche answer. I do believe it to be fundamentally true however. You need to strive for as much enjoyment in your craft as you can.
Remember as a child when we would draw for no other reason than to enjoy drawing… what a great time that was! Some things shouldn’t change, draw what you are most passionate about.
We can sometimes forget that the journey in art is just as important as the destination. We may not always love the projects we are given and sometimes it can be a grind (a great reason to have a fun personal project you can indulge in on the side) but that’s okay, the path will always have bumps and turns. There is usually something we can learn from every project so even the harder tasks can have its positives. Just don’t forget your inner child and have fun!”
“Don’t be afraid. Regardless of the industry, beginners usually face a lot of fears. And it’s ok. Lack of experience and self-doubt can really demotivate. But I want to tell you, nothing in this world can make your life more difficult than you can.
Young artists are often afraid to draw what they really like, they are afraid to make a mistake, they are afraid of critics, they are afraid to use references, try other media, other techniques, leave the comfort zone, learn new things. Even those who are successful in social networks are sometimes afraid of losing some of their subscribers, allowing the crowd to dictate to them what they should do. Finding a job, after some time they are afraid to try new projects. So my advice is «don’t doubt about yourself and don’t be afraid».
Professionalism implies a set of different excellent skills. The less you fear, the more skills you can master. While it is difficult for you, you are moving forward. That’s okay, the path will always have bumps and turns. There is usually something we can learn from every project so even the harder tasks can have its positives. Just don’t forget your inner child and have fun!”
“Advice to the fighter in you. Keep searching for inspiration with insatiable hunger everyday. Practice a lot! Use references as much as needed and draw your own vision of the world.”
“My number one piece of advice to someone who’s dreaming of becoming a professional artist is to draw as much as possible and share your work with everyone! Post on social media, show your classmates, professors, co-workers, etc., and let people know you’re open to work!
Even if you’re doing small commissions, there are a lot of people that would be thrilled to have a personalized artwork! Posting consistently on social media also connects you to individuals you wouldn’t be regularly interacting with, and that can create useful connections as well!”
“Don’t be in such a rush. Enjoy the process. Set goals and visualize them coming to fruition. Train yourself to love studying. It’s not a competition so don’t compare your journey to others. Every artist expresses the fundamentals in a unique way, therefore your personal mastery of the craft is a gift to every other artist, a chance to see a new perspective.
Think of the journey as a marathon instead of a sprint. Don’t neglect your health. Keep your body fit, eat healthily and get 8 hours sleep. Your productivity will skyrocket. Support other artists, collaborate and have fun!”
“First of all, take a deep breath. I know you’re excited to improve, but if you try to learn everything at the same time you’re going to struggle, and you’re not going to get very far.
Stop trying to chase the final goal. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Break everything down into smaller, manageable topics, that will get you closer to your big goal. For example, let’s say you want to learn portraiture… Don’t just start painting portrait after portrait. Sure, you’ll get better with each portrait, but very, very slowly.
Instead, break it down into its key components, and learn those one at a time. Things like basic proportions, anatomy of facial features, painting hair, eyes, lips, expressions, proper skin tones, etc, etc. Break it down and tackle them all individually. Set yourself exercises, so you can have fun with it. Have faith in the process.
The truth is that your art will always be a “work in progress,” so stop stressing about the final outcome. Just paint for the sake of learning, rather than putting too much pressure on yourself to create an incredible portfolio piece. Do this, and your best work will happen as a by-product of your learning. Remember to enjoy the ride, and have fun with it! Learning illustration is an endless journey, and getting to do it every day is its own reward.”