Bring your Art to Life.
Art2Life is about bringing your Art to Life. It turns out you don’t have to be a starving artist.
They were wrong. It was also never about having some rare, magical talent. It’s about passion.
It’s not about competition either. It’s about sharing. Resources, Materials, Inspiration and most importantly, your Art.
Its about finding what inspires and brings you joy, And making Art that is more and more like yourself.
And in the end it’s about finding a community of people. Just like you.
Building Community, Inspiration and Tools, for the modern artist.
N I C H O L A S W I L T O N
Nicholas is the founder of Art2Life, an online platform that strives to build, empower, and inspire the creative community. The Art2life Workshops, the Art2life Creative Mentorship Programs and the Creative Visionary Path online programs provide artistic, business and creative coaching to artists. With over 20 years working with creatives, Nicholas has developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process. He speaks and writes extensively on the subject of creativity, purpose and inspiration.
Nicholas Wilton was born in San Francisco, California. As a teenager he studied design with the German contemporary glass artist Ludwig Schaffrath, who catalyzed his ongoing passion for art making. Nicholas studied art at the College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara and then went on to receive his BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Wilton’s paintings are seen in yearly gallery exhibitions, International Art Fairs, and are included in numerous private and corporate collections in both the United States and Europe.
His paintings have also been used on the covers of the national bestseller “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, and Brene Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection.” Recently, the US Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Wilton’s artwork.
Nicholas writes and films a twice weekly blog that provides insights, instruction and reflections on the creative process.
To see Nicholas Wilton’s artwork and a schedule of upcoming gallery exhibitions please visit NicholasWilton.com.
T H E S T O R Y
For most of my life, I have followed and listened to my inner voice. And, as a result, I have been blessed with a life filled with creative expression. But my journey hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve made many mistakes along the way.
I spent much of my youth making Art. I loved it with a passion. I went on to art school, and once I got out into the real world I felt fortunate to be able to generate revenue from my art as a commercial illustrator. While this lucrative profession eased the financial pressure to make saleable work, it was often personally unfulfilling and out of alignment with my authentic self. I dreamed of making personal Art that I knew was inside of me. Lacking confidence and fearing my art would not be valued by the outside world, I silenced my true, inner voice.
In the past when I had tried to put my personal art forward I found little support in the fine art world. It was a world filled with galleries, dealers and critics who I consistently experienced as rudely indifferent and uninterested in anything I tried to show them. There was little or no guidance available that I could find for artists like me just starting out.
Working alone in my studio without a supportive community of other artists made matters worse. Most of my friends had regular jobs with titles and six figure salaries, and they had no idea what it was like to be an artist. Trying to find an established artist that was willing to offer me guidance was next to impossible.
Even though I went to art school, they never thought to teach a class about how to create a life with genuine art making at its core. Sometimes I was able to free up a stretch of time to work on my personal art, but the actual process of making it challenging. I was unsure and rarely made anything I liked. Everything just felt hard. Maybe, I thought, what they say about artists living tortured lives is true. It almost seemed easier to avoid trying. Besides, life was already so overwhelming raising a family, and now possibly having to work a nine-to-five job just to make ends meet left me with little energy or time to truly pursue my creative vision anyway.
So instead of taking a chance on something I felt so unsure about, I just kept on postponing what I truly wanted to do. I even started a business that sold products designed with my artwork like trays, boxes, tote bags, and even dirt-cheap reproductions of my fine art. I toured factories in China, teaching and overseeing the fabrication of my products. I’ve stood in Bed, Bath & Beyond and seen my fine art reproductions selling for $1.99—all so I could buy myself the freedom to make the art I really wanted to make.
But the price was too high. And my plan didn’t work anyway. Our home decor business dissolved over a partnership dispute that cost me two years of work and countless dollars, and, in the end, I had nothing to show for it. On top of all that, after spending twenty years saving up over a million dollars from sales of commercial art, I was close to being able to afford to pursue my personal fine art work risk-free. But then our entire life savings was lost in a Madoff-type investment scandal.
It took a long time for me to realize that this strategy of postponing what I truly wanted was seriously flawed. I mistakenly thought my creative freedom was tied to my financial freedom.
I did not know what to do. The only thing I had still available to me was my art. So I went back to it. But this time I wasn’t going back to it as an illustrator producing pictures to sell someone else’s idea or business. I was going back to find out who I was, to find out if I could truly show up, so I put everything I had left into this one area in the hopes it would somehow bring me back to the surface.
Looking back now I see that this massive misfortune was the catalyst that forced me to finally take the courageous steps necessary to make and sell the most personal, meaningful work I’ve ever made.
It worked. Clinging to my art, I arose from the difficulty of this situation only to re-discover the most reliable, sustaining force in my life: my art practice. I re-dedicated myself to it, and in time it revealed to me a base of information that turned out to not only be relevant to the making of art, but to the making of a life.
A new life that had art as its center point and one that relied on intuition and faith.
Over the years I have thought a lot about the transformative power of wholly surrendering to my art and how it turned everything around for me. I have spent years now teaching and informing others about this possibility in their own art practices. This study, this practice has since grown in scope and depth, so much so that I decided to name it.
I call it ART2LIFE.
Bringing your Art to Life
For me, the turning point occurred once I became clear about a set of 15 truly positive ideas about being an artist which I now know are true, but chose to ignore. Instead of focusing on these inherent positive truths, I had become mired in the gloomy status quo that many artists find themselves swimming in today. They are the pervasive challenges we all face but accept. I call them headwinds. They are obviously not hurdles for everyone, but even a few can contribute to the overall difficulty of being an artist. I believe now, that all of them can be changed. Some can be dropped entirely and many more are simply untrue. There are 10
The Ten Headwinds
- Artists often work isolated in a studio by themselves.
- There is a tiny group of people, who don’t make art and are not particularly creative, but often act as the gatekeepers for deciding which artist is or is not successful.
- In the traditional gallery paradigm, the artist does not have very much contact with the very people who buy and love his/her/their work. In fact, they usually never get to meet.
- There is a wide-held belief that if you are going to be an artist you will starve.
- There is little information about how to be a successful artist. Those that are, often are not willing to share information for fear of creating competition for themselves.
- Usually, in the decision to become an artist, there is or has been at least one very important person that doubts or is even opposed to that decision.
- There is no viable business plan for artists.
- The process of making really strong work necessitates feeling vulnerable and insecure.
- Talent was supposedly sparingly ladled out to a select few, so none of us feel entirely sure if we are.
- The path leading to authentic, extraordinary art is never clear. There are very few, including yourself sometimes, who can imagine what you are capable of making in the future.
Now I am not saying that these 10 common challenges will stop or hinder everyone. Surely there are thousands of successful artists who have managed to not only endure but thrive in these conditions…
But I wasn’t one of them. Maybe the challenges above don’t relate to you.
However, if some of these points above feel painfully familiar, I have some good news for you.
I think we have an opportunity. One formed from countless interactions, personal experience, endless hours in the studio, and conversations with other creatives who share these difficulties. I am not entirely sure where this effort is going to go. But I do know that what is needed right NOW is a massive realignment, a SHIFT in the thinking of many of us who spend our lives creating art.
Before this can happen, however, we need to do a little house cleaning.
The Three Limiting Beliefs.
There are 3 common limiting beliefs that hold many of us back. These are only beliefs, and from my experience teaching and making art they are absolutely untrue. So, if you only take away one thing from my words I hope it will be the uplifting realization that these limiting beliefs no longer need to be held by you. They serve no purpose. They are not true.
1: “I have no talent.”
No one has more than anyone else. Of course, there is earth-shattering talent in the Picassos, the Einsteins, the Mozarts of the world. Yes. These anomalies do exist, but for pretty much everyone else, talent has nothing to do with it. This question mark that seems to hang around our necks like an albatross can thankfully be put aside. You can just forget about it.
However, there is one thing you absolutely must have when it comes to making amazing artwork: PASSION.
It is the single biggest driver in making ordinary work extraordinary. Luckily, there is no scarcity of passion for any of us. It merely takes truly listening to and following the kind of creative discovery and art making that feeds and feels most in alignment with ourselves. Passion can’t be faked. You have to care. It has to be personal and it has to matter. Passion and desire permits our Art to take a quantum leap forward.
2: “I am not Creative.”
Like talent, there is a fuzzy uncertainty about creativity. The “I am not creative like my sister”, or “I wasn’t really creative so I veered into this kind of a job, etc.” are almost clichés they are so ubiquitous.
However, most people don’t understand that creativity is part of the operating system that comes with being a human being. Everybody is born creative. It is just like having the capacity to feel compassion or hope. We all have equal measure of creativity.
Doing the things that bring us happiness and joy sparks inspiration and creates the conditions needed for creativity to arrive. The interest or desire to develop your own innate creativity is a choice. It is there if you look. Just like the myth of not being talented, the perception of lacking creativity is no reason to give up on your desire to make your Art.
You have everything you need. Right now, right at this moment to begin making tremendously potent Artwork.
3: “There is no money in Art.”
The core, universally desired feeling everyone desperately wants to experience is to feel more alive. People experience this when they see and feel anything that they have not before. Change itself is what primarily feeds our souls. Travelling to an exotic place, meeting someone new, seeing artwork that you couldn’t have possibly made yourself, or anything new and different than our usual experiences awakens us. It stirs our soul.
In fact, the primary thing that the world values, especially now in these times of visual and material superficiality, are things that are real and authentic. There are 4.7 billion people on the Earth, and you are different from all of them. You are utterly and totally unique.
If your art can reflect who you truly are, then by default, it will be unique. To succeed in creating valuable, wondrous and saleable artwork is simple. Make your art as personal, unique and different as you already are.
If you can even slightly lessen these limiting beliefs, then a shift in your thinking is possible. And that, even more than spending another ten years working dutifully in your studio, can make all the difference in the world. There is simply a new kind of thinking, and therefor a new possibility in store for your art and even your life.
It was for me and I believe it can be for you too.
In stark contrast, here are the 15 points of positivity regarding art making that I have come to embrace and believe. When I am not making my art, I am busy teaching these principles in workshops, mentorships, blogging and other programs. I have found that these points, when even slightly embraced can dramatically shift, not just your outlook, but your art and then ultimately your life. It has been my experience, I am happy to report, that these are true.
The Fifteen Positivity Points
- Intention actually changes what comes across your path. Saying out loud what you want helps it become so.
- Artists can create any kind of art and build careers in any direction they choose.
- The process of art making can become an enjoyable, creative, and financially sustaining practice.
- All success is taught, especially in art. Artists realize this and no longer invalidate themselves or their work because they simply have not been given the information they need to achieve their goals.
- Art does not fit in any particular category. It is by its very nature limitless and those that make it are inspired because of this fact. It excludes no one.
- Making personal, authentic art gives the rest of the world permission to do the same.
- People will collect your art because it makes them feel and see the world in a way they have never before. Your work transports them.
- Sharing your art and what you know with those not as far along helps make you a better artist. There is more than enough for everyone. There is abundance for those who give.
- Intuition often leads the way in the artist’s journey. It is trusted.
- Artists do not work for galleries or agents. They work for themselves. Some artists choose to work with galleries and agents in partnership.
- Making Art is vitally important in the world today. It is one of the most prestigious, courageous endeavors a person can undertake in a life. Period.
- Great success and notoriety is available today for artists because they can directly reach 30 million people for the price of internet connection. It is an amazing time in history to be an artist.
- Community is essential. The influence and the support of like-minded people dramatically increases the likelihood of making of great art and realizing your dreams.
- Everyone wants to feel more alive. Art that is new and different provides this feeling. You are totally and utterly unique. If your art reflects this fact, then it too will be desired.
- Some of the most important people in the artist’s life are those that support and follow the creative path the artist has chosen to walk.
It is clarifying to finally organize and put into words what has been unfolding for me the past 7 years. I do not know where or what Art2Life might become exactly. Like a painting I am just trusting it will find its way as it goes.
My only hope that at this point, at this juncture that to you, it feels like an invitation. An invitation to join in, to share with one another and ultimately co-create a new approach, a newer, brighter approach to not only our art but also our lives.