Ep 18 Featured Image Podcast

Creative Fire – Nicholas Wilton – Ep 18 

February 23, 2022


I used to think of my art as something I did. It was an activity that I always enjoyed and I became pretty good at it. However, I didn’t think of it the way I do now. I was separate from it. It was more like a job early on. In fact, it became my job.

For many years I did illustration for publishing companies. Book covers, magazines, editorial reports…you name it! In many ways, it was amazing, but the hard part was being dictated to. I might have had a little freedom in how I did something, but what I made was never really up to me. Maybe that’s why I struggled to embrace it. I needed a change. Little did I know, change was coming. 

On this episode, I’m going to share how I found the creative fire that led me out of the darkest time in my life. It’s an Art2Life origin of sorts, but it feels like mine as well. Join me, as I tell the story of how I lost everything to find my art and myself.

Learn more: 


enrollment closes 11:59 pm Wed Feb 23rd.


Listen if you are interested in…

  • When it feels like the bottom just dropped out… [3:01] 
  • …and then it gets worse [6:29]  
  • A light in the darkness [9:11] 
  • Finding my creative fire and sharing it with others [16:44]
  • Founding Art2Life and using art to become ourselves [30:15]
  • My heart behind the Creative Visionary Program [35:01]   

Enrollment closes 11:59 pm Wed Feb 23rd – Go to: www.artlifejoy.com

Between a rock and a hard place

15 years ago my wife and I were living in a beautiful home with our young children. We had worked hard to get where we were. Life was good. But in 2008, when the economy really pulled back, my job as an editorial illustrator just stopped. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of doing something that you wrapped your identity around for a long time only to have it suddenly taken away, but it was brutal. I felt like I had lost a level of control in my life. The bills were piling up, the pressure was increasing, and my self-confidence was starting to diminish for the first time in my life. 

Around this time, we were also figuring out a way for me to escape the frenetic pace of commercial art. Along with some friends, we started a business where I could use my art to create prints, mirrors, boxes, and all kinds of products. This was going to be my lifeboat into creative purpose! But the partnership fell apart around disagreements  over creative freedom and we went our separate ways. This was a tremendous emotional and financial loss. Years of pouring everything we had into this idea felt wasted. My lifeboat had sunk.

When it rains, it pours

During my time as an editorial illustrator, I had put a percentage of my money away in the hopes that one day I would have enough to pursue fine art full-time. I never thought I’d make any money at it, so my plan was to build up this nest egg and live a modest life off the interest. All I wanted to do was paint! One of our strategies for growing this fund was to invest in various things and it had grown into a pretty large sum. At the same time that the economy was falling apart, and partly because of it, the investor that we had been working with for a decade lost all of our money. Everyone’s money, actually. It was a bit of a “Madoff situation”. We were devastated. 

I had no job, my business had failed, and now my life savings were gone. The stress from it all unraveled my marriage, and soon, I began to unravel. I was lost. I began battling the worst depression of my life. I couldn’t even get out of bed. I felt like everything I touched turned to ash and that somehow I was the problem, the cause of all our misfortune.  

Using art as a force for change

Thankfully, even experiencing so much loss the one thing that remained in my life was my art. What was once a side hobby became a light in the darkness for me. It was something I did, that I was good at, that I didn’t need to rely on anyone else for. There were no gatekeepers involved. I could just make art. So I did! I began tirelessly painting in my studio. It served as a welcome distraction from everything else going on in my life. I soon realized that my “pipe dream” of becoming an artist wasn’t so crazy. After all, I had managed to sell a few of my pieces when it was just a hobby. 

So I started making art and really paying attention to it. Slowly but surely, my art began to bring me back to the surface. I was using art-making and the creative process to change myself and my circumstances. I had never viewed art and creativity as a force that I had. It was always something I had used. A means to an end. But my whole world began to change when I realized that art was literally saving my life. Incredibly it did not stop there. What started to occur would not only change my life but in the end literally thousands of other artists just like me. Have a listen to this episode to hear what happened. 

Learn more: 


Enrollment closes 11:59 pm Wed Feb 23rd.

Go to: www.artlifejoy.com

 Connect with Nicholas Wilton


Subscribe to Art2Life on
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

new image for vlog sidebar