The Washington Post

STEVE JOBS: His 10 Best Quotes about art and creativity

(MICHAEL CAVNA/The Washington Post)

Ultimately, Apple accepted Fiore’s app. Throughout the kerfuffle, though, Fiore says his admiration of the Apple founder never wavered.

“Even though I experienced some Apple app-store growing pains and was frustrated by their satire ban, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs,” Fiore tells Comic Riffs on Thursday, hours after Apple announced the co-founder’s death at age 56. “Without the more visually oriented personal computer and art-friendly computing, I never would have started animating my political cartoons.

“He made computers accessible to low-tech cartoonists like me!”

Even during Apple’s leanest years — when its market share was growing perilously low — thousands of artists and graphic designers remained loyal to the company’s hardware, software and creative capabilities.

At the root of all this was Jobs’s uncommon tech-world understanding of artistic elegance.

For decades, his appreciation of visual brilliance radiated and resonated through his words. In tribute, to wit, here are our Top 10 Steve Jobs Quotes about Art and Creativity:



"Picasso had a saying. He said, 'Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world."

PBS’s "Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires” (1996)


“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”



“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”



Comic Riffs: Quick sketches on deadline. (Cavna/TWP)

“It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing.”

Playboy interview (Jobs, of course, would go on to guide some of Apple’s greatest digital-product innovations while in his 50s.)


“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

— Fortune magazine (via WikiQuote)


“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn't what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked."



STEVE JOBS: From the Comic Riffs sketchbook on deadline. (Michael Cavna/2011 The Washington Post )

RIP, STEVE JOBS THE ARTIST: The Apple founder is the subject of these 5 moving portraits


“We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.”

MSNBC/ Newsweek interview


“People from technology don't understand the creative process that these companies go through to make their products, and they don't appreciate how hard it is. And the creative companies don't appreciate how creative technology is; they think it's just something you buy. And so there is a gulf of understanding between the two of them.”

Wall Street Journal


“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”

Business Week


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

2005 Stanford commencement speech


THE MARK FIORE CASE: Steve Jobs discusses it here during his 2010 D8 talk (starts at the 5:30 mark):

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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