Artists, writers, performers, and other creators across disciplines have big dreams. But creative blocks and other obstacles can hold them back from turning their vision into reality.

Whether you’re a creative pro or enthusiastic amateur, you may have asked questions like:

  • Where should I put my attention if I have multiple interests?
  • Which sources of inspiration should I follow?
  • How can I gather up the courage to put myself out there?
  • Whom can I ask for help and support?
  • How do I create something that can change the world? 

The TED and TEDx Talks I’ve compiled below will answer these questions and inspire you to embark on your creative journey. Here are the five impactful lessons these artistic innovators have for creators of all kinds:

1. Experiment with as many forms of creativity as you can.

“I think that in this day and age, people have things they want to express, and you need to have a wide range of tools. You have filmmaking, painting, poetry, acting… they’re all tools.”

Taika Waititi

Before he directed Thor: Ragnarok and won an Academy Award for Jojo Rabbit, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi trained as a visual artist. He then found his calling in film, which allowed him to explore a diverse set of interests and later receive international acclaim.

In his TEDx talk “The Art of Creativity,” Waititi chronicles his early artistic endeavors and uses humor to highlight the importance of exploring creativity in all its forms. (And this talk makes it clear where some of his inspiration for Jojo Rabbit may have come from.)

Taika Waititi: The Art of Creativity

2. Look to your unique experiences for inspiration.

“The great uplifting of humanity beyond its self-destruction is the redemptive mission of art.”

Alex Grey

Music fans may recognize Alex Grey’s artwork from album covers by bands like Tool and The String Cheese Incident. Alongside his wife Allyson, Grey has created immersive art exhibitions and runs the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a non-profit in the Hudson Valley that merges art and spirituality.

Grey’s famous visionary artworks were inspired by his time as a medical illustrator for Harvard Medical School. Art, Grey says in his TEDx Talk, can be a tool for expanding our consciousness and better understanding the world around us.

Alex Grey: Cosmic Creativity — How Art Evolves Consciousness

3. Find ways to boost your creative confidence.

“When we track them down and ask them what’s going on, they say something like, ‘I’m just not the creative type.’ But we know that’s not true. If they stick with the process, if they stick with it, they end up doing amazing things. And they surprise themselves at just how innovative they and their teams really are.”

David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of IDEO, a design and consulting firm, as well as one of the creators of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a.k.a. “” Kelley teaches the design thinking to students and business leaders from all over the world. This concept uses human-centered problem solving techniques to innovate better products and processes in a variety of settings.

Kelley’s book Creative Confidence (which I finished reading recently) follows the premise of his TED Talk: creativity is for everyone, and everyone has the ability to be creative. His talk explains how you can use design thinking to tap into your inner creator and build up your creative confidence.

David Kelley: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

4. Make connections and ask for help.

“My music career has been spent trying to encounter people on the internet the way I could on the box… And I think that when we really see each other, we want to help each other.”

Amanda Palmer

Singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer once made her living busking as a living statue on city streets all over the world. Even while standing on a box and posing as an eight-foot-tall bride, she formed connections with the pedestrians who helped her make a living. This unconventional occupation later helped her bond with audiences while on tour in The Dresden Dolls and as a solo artist.

Palmer reminds the audience at her TED Talk that living an artistic life doesn’t have to be a lonely one. There are always people willing to help you on your creative journey — if you’re willing to ask for their help.

Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking

5. Let your sense of purpose guide your creativity.

“What sort of thing do you feel passionate about that you feel you could make a difference in the world for?”

Peggy Oki

As the only female skateboarder on the Zephyr Competition Team, a.k.a. the famous Z-Boys, Peggy Oki helped pave the way for women in extreme sports. Since that time, she has become a prominent activist who uses her art and interest in marine biology to educate others on environmental issues.

As part of Oki’s Origami Whales Project, people from around the world helped build curtains of thousands of origami whales to raise awareness for threats to sea life. In her TEDx Talk, Oki explains how she merged her passion for activism with her love of art to effect change and save the whales.

Peggy Oki: Allow Things to Unfold and You Will Find Your Purpose in Life

Ready to bring your creativity to life?

Remember: no one can create like you can. Your path to answering your creative calling won’t look like the ones from the speakers above. Yet if these creators can manifest their artistic visions, so can you. When you tap into your unique experiences and viewpoint and connect with a supportive community, you have everything you need to leave your creative mark on the world.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk (post). I’ll continue to share resources on creativity here that I find useful. Need to bounce ideas off someone instead? I have 1:1 consulting sessions available for creatives of all kinds. Let’s take your vision to the next level!

Need some additional creative inspo? The Muse Manifesto is my digital magazine for anyone daring to live a creative life. The inaugural Winter 2022 issue is centered around making the new year your boldest and most creative year. Learn more and get the issue for free here.