Jean Michel Basquiat Quotes

Jean Michel Basquiat was a graffiti artist and painter who died in 1988 at the age of 27.

His work often referenced African American culture and used bright colors and bold brushstrokes.

Some of his most famous quotes include “Inner beauty is more important than outer beauty” and “I paint my experience, not what people tell me I should paint.”

This article provides a few quotes from Basquiat that offers a taste of his unique perspective on life.

jean michel basquiat quotes

Jean Michel Basquiat Quotes

“I wanted to build up a name for myself.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I thought I was going to be a bum the rest of my life.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Most Young Kings Get Their Heads Cut Off.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Fire will attract more attention than any other cry for help.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“There are about 30 words around you all the time, like ‘thread’ or ‘exit.’” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“The country makes me more paranoid, you know? I think the crazy people out there are little crazier.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“[Gray] was a noise band. I played a guitar with a file and a synthesizer. I was inspired by John Cage at the time – music that isn’t really music. We were trying to be incomplete, abrasive, oddly beautiful.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Every single line means something.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I enjoy that they think I’m a bad boy. I think it’s great.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I’d think about all my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix… I had a romantic feeling about how these people became famous.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“At that point, [an artist] was somebody who could draw, but my ideas have changed since then. Now I see an artist as something a lot broader than that.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I think there’s a lot of people that are neglected in art.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Since I was seventeen I thought I might be a star.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was young.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist; or I’d draw a big ram’s head, really messy. I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I had some money, I made the best paintings ever. I was completely reclusive, worked a lot, took a lot of drugs. I was awful to people.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I am not a black artist, I am an artist.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I was trying to make paintings different from the paintings that I saw a lot of at the time, which were mostly minimal, and they were highbrow and alienating, and I wanted to make very direct paintings that most people would feel the emotion behind when they saw them.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I like to have information rather than just have a brushstroke. Just to have these words to put in these feelings underneath.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I was trying to communicate an idea; I was trying to paint a very urban landscape.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat

“The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.” — Jean-Michel Basquiat


In conclusion, Basquiat’s words are powerful and insightful. They provide a unique perspective on art and life that is worth exploring. If you haven’t already, take the time to read his quotes and see what you think. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create something beautiful yourself.

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