What We Can Learn From Picasso

Artistic witticisms for actionable advice

Christopher P Jones
5 min readAug 29, 2023


Pablo Picasso, 1904, Paris, photograph by Ricard Canals i Llambí. Image source Wikimedia Commons

My attention was grabbed recently when I was listening to an interview with a famous writer.

Midway through, they referred to a line supposedly uttered by Pablo Picasso:

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

The quote had me nodding along in agreement: that one of the most likely places for creativity to spark is when you’re actually busy making your work.

It’s a sort of joke, and it’s also deadly serious. I think what Picasso was getting at is that it’s no good waiting for inspiration to spur you into action; rather, it is at the canvas where the stimulus will come.

For Picasso, being in the studio with a paintbrush in his hand was what mattered most of all. For the writer who was quoting him, it meant being sat at their laptop, word processor open, typing fingers hovering over the keys.

I’ve since found alternative versions of the Picasso quip:

“When inspiration strikes, I want it to find me working.”

Such variations suggest that Picasso is rarely quoted verbatim. In truth, he hardly wrote anything down about himself or his art — nearly all the words attributed to him come from the reminiscences of…