Art Department Quotes

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I’ve been away designing a TV Pilot this month and last, plus the Toronto International Film Festival also kept me away for a bit so I figured I should catch up on some September posting. A special Toronto Film Festival post to come with a focus, of course, on some great art direction I saw in a few films that knocked my socks off. Can’t wait to write about it. But for now here’s something I had started in August.


I am one of those weird people who loves collecting quotations.


They inspire me sometimes when I’m all out of ideas. Here are some that I liken to the world of production design and the art department in general. Just replace the words architecture or art with art direction or production design. You would be hard-pressed to find some actual famous quotes about production design. Enjoy!

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If you are not a team player, you cannot be a designer.

-Max Azria (of BCBG and Max Azria Group) on Project Runway

“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

-Eliel Saarinen, “Time”, July 2, 1956

Architecture in general is frozen music.

-F.W.J. Schelling, Philosophie der Kunst

“Form follows function.”

-Louis Henri Sullivan, “Lippincott’s Magazine”, March, 1896

“In architecture as in all other operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well building has three conditions: Commodity, Firmness and Delight.”

-Henry Watton

“Noble life demands a noble architecture for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall.”

-Frank Lloyd Wright


The man who can but sketch his purpose beforehand in words is regarded as a wonder, and every artist and writer possesses that faculty. But gestation, fruition, the laborious rearing of the offspring, putting it to bed every night full fed with milk, embracing it anew every morning with the inexhaustible affection of a mother’s heart, licking it clean, dressing it a hundred times in the richest garb only to be instantly destroyed; then never to be cast down at the convulsions of this headlong life till the living masterpiece is perfected which in sculpture speaks to every eye, in literature to every intellect, in painting to every memory, in music to every heart! –this is the task of execution. The hand must be ready at every moment to work in obedience to the mind.

-Honore de Balzac, Cousin Bette


“When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash between the two, it’s bad art.”

-Marc Chagall

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: 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 DaVinci

It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.

-Paul Gauguin

“Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.”

-Kahlil Gibran, “A Handful of Sand on the Shore”

Fortunately art is a community effort – a small but select community living in a spiritualized world endeavoring to interpret the wars and the solitudes of the flesh.

-Allen Ginsberg

Where do architects and designers get their ideas? The answer, of course, is mainly from other architects and designers, so is it mere casuistry to distinguish between tradition and plagiarism?

-Stephen Bayley

It takes a great client to create great architecture.

-Curtis W. Fentress

A bold architectural statement turns a public building into a landmark, but it is in the details where the architect becomes the real storyteller.

-Curtis W. Fentress

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I hope you too were inspired. Now get back to work and create something you never dreamed you were capable of.

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Rose XO.


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5 Comments

Filed under Art Department, Quotations

5 responses to “Art Department Quotes

  1. Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. :)

  2. art departmental

    Good. I’m glad you guys liked it. Thanks for posting!

  3. Rose,
    Thank you for the comment. I have enjoyed your blog immensely, it is swell, I’m coming back to see what else I can find here. I hope that we can exchange some blog bits from time to time and I would be happy to exchange a link with you. Here is the quote on my schwag t-shirts… “Life is a shitstorm, and the only umbrella you can buy, is Art.” Feel free to use it. I use it all the time. I stole it from Peter Falk from a film “Tune in Tomorrow” ??

  4. Great collection of quotes! Particularly love the Eliel Saarinen one, so important.

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