HOW MY ART SAVED ME AFTER I LOST EVERYTHING

HOW MY ART SAVED ME AFTER I LOST EVERYTHING


– Hey, everyone. I just thought I’d pop in here, because, I don’t know, it’s just been a huge day, real busy day. We’re doing all this enrollment stuff, and I was sharing today about confidence. I veered over into an area that I don’t, couldn’t really go into, and I just thought I’d share it with you. I don’t know, it’s hard,
’cause everyone was, there was all these people
in the studio and everything, and I started to talk a little bit about the challenges I
had about 10 years ago where a bunch of stuff happened
that was really hard for me, and through that experience, I learned a lot about art-making and actually, a lot of what Art2Life is is because of that
time, so it’s connected. So, I thought I would
just share what this is or what happened, the story of that, because it really relates, I think it’ll relate to a lot of people who are considering the
program or just in general, what is, you know, in terms of
how you show up for your work and what can happen when you do that. Hey, Zora, nice to see you here, hi. And so, I was going through
the notes that I had from today about confidence and all that, and I was looking at the
piece about vulnerability. Vulnerability is a really important part of art making, you know, and it’s not really talked a lot about. We all feel that when
we’re trying to do this and we’re not sure. I’ve played it pretty safe
most of my life in terms of, I had this really great
career in illustration. I was really good at it. I was pretty successful. I went to ArtCenter, and I got
good grades and everything. Everything was going
along really, really well. You know, I have two daughters, and at the time, this,
they were about 10 and 12, or 12 and 14, I can’t remember. They were pretty young. This was 2009, I guess, when the economy had this major pullback. What happened was, I was doing
illustration at the time, and that’s how I supported
my family, doing all this. I was doing images, and I
was painting on the side. I wasn’t really showing my work that much, but I was trying to do it, but I wasn’t really putting it out there because I didn’t really think I could. I didn’t think that was
in the cards for me. I just didn’t think you could do this. I had saved up pretty much
my whole life, all the money, I had saved up $1 million by 2009 working really hard as an
illustrator, and I had some, and I was very successful. Plus I put my kids through school, and my wife at the time,
Jenny, was working with me, and she was helping, and it was like this whole thing. I worked really, really hard, and my plan was to save up money so then, and I had some investments that I’d done. I thought if I had enough residual income, maybe I could do this fine
art thing on the side. Maybe I could do this
painting thing on the side, and it wouldn’t matter if
I wasn’t successful at it because I knew that, I didn’t think I could
make any money at it, and I’d have to always
have this other job, but if I could make some
money and have the income, we could move to a
smaller house or whatever. And what happened was, in 2009, there was that economic pullback. It was crazy, ’cause we had given all
of our money to this guy. His name was Aldo Baccala, and he was a guy that I had
worked with for 10 years. He was a local guy who I, he was an investor guy, and he had this same group of
people that he worked with. And I got to know him. But I would just give him my money and he would invest it in things, and for, like, 10 years,
or maybe eight years, everything worked really well. So, I got a return, I was
getting a return on this money, so I was thinking, wow, you know, a couple more thousand dollars a month, and then I won’t have to work, and I can just do this
fine art thing on my own, and I won’t, and so, hey, Lizzie, hey Mona, Michelle. Nice to see you guys here, Karen. And so, I, but what happened is I got
a call from him one day, or not from him, from his office, and basically, in short,
he had gone upside-down. The economy had pulled back. Loans were being pulled. It was all that real
estate problem, you know, and everything was falling
apart and everything fell apart. I’ll never forget it
because we lost everything. Like, everything. It was so hard, you know? I remember my bookkeeper, my CPA, who’s been my financial advisor. He said, “Dude, you,” I explained what was
happening, and he said, and he’s really optimistic. This guy’s like, “You
can make this happen.” He goes, “There’s nothing about this story “that sounds good.” Because I had signed a document saying that I would
personally guarantee this loan that I had borrowed with this guy. Basically, my house was also
on the chopping block, here, and he was like, “Nick, there’s, there,” I’ll never forget. He goes, “Nick, there’s nothing about this “that sounds good.” He goes, “You gotta take your house, “you gotta put it in the name of your mom “or your sister or your brother. “You know, you’ve got,”
so it was all this, I was just so freaked out. So, we lost all this money, and then, so that was super hard, but because the economy pulled back, illustration as a way of working as that, advertising was cut, so illustration, so overnight, pretty much
within a few, a couple months, the projects all stopped. I had never not had work. It all stopped. And we were living in this house, and I had to make payments and everything. All of it had stopped. I went into a funk. I mean, I lost my confidence. I didn’t know what to do, you know? It was so gnarly because I realized, and what was so painful was I realized that I had worked my whole life making these little illustrations. $300 here, $500 here, for 30 years. I had saved this money, and I knew that I didn’t have
that amount of time left. I couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t get this money back. The whole way I had organized my life, everything fell apart. I kinda went into a depression. I lost my self-confidence totally. That’s why I know about it, right, ’cause this thing happened to me. And there was a lot of
upset with my wife, who was, you know, she had financial challenges, her family did as a kid, so this really triggered her, and it caused a big rupture for us. There was a lot of blame
that I was too risky. Anyway, I won’t go into that, but we ruptured, we fell apart. Our family broke apart. I moved out, and I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I was just so, I had lost everything, you know? And it’s like, I didn’t know it at the time, and I know that you guys have this, too. We all go through these
really hard things. At the time, you don’t know that, it doesn’t seem like there’s any positive to these situations. I certainly didn’t. My life was wrecked. And so, there wasn’t anything left, and the only thing, you know, I had this reputation that
I could always pull it off. I was this amazing provider, I was this artist that
was successful, you know, and all that was blown up. So, what I did is, everything kind of, I lost my self-confidence. I totally lost my way. But the only thing I had left was my art. It’s just what I turned to, you know? It was like, so, and I knew that I didn’t, the fine art thing, that was gone. I had about six months’
worth of money left. And so, I moved out and I got a studio. I rented a studio, I rented
this studio, actually, and it was way too much money, and we had this huge fight about it ’cause I was spending too much money. But I had to get away from the house because there was just, you know, there was guilt, and I was so embarrassed
by what had happened. I totally lost, I just, I
had to solve this myself. I came here and I
started making paintings, and I was occasionally,
occasionally, occasionally selling one of my paintings, which was pretty amazing, because I didn’t think I could at all. But because there wasn’t anything left, I couldn’t illustration work, there wasn’t any way to
do anything, so I thought, I know, I’ll rent this studio
and I’ll just go for it. I’m just gonna do paintings, and I’ll just work really hard. I’ll just make art, And I’ll try to get galleries and I’ll do whatever it takes. So, I rented this studio,
and it was too big for me, but I figured I’ll rent it
and I’ll divide it into, get two or three other
artists to share it. And once I got in here and I fixed it up, and I remember my mom who
was 80 was helping me. You know, we were painting the walls, and I put all these
tables in here and stuff. So, I moved in here,
and I started painting. It actually was the only thing
that made me feel better. It was just painting,
just figuring out my art. But I liked this space
because the space was bigger, and I talked about this today. You know, there was more
of that spaciousness. It started to help, because I knew art and that’s where I felt
really myself, right? So, I decided that if I teach classes in here during the week, then I don’t have to get roommates, I don’t have to get studio mates. So I started teaching. I got tables, and I did these
Wednesday night classes. A lot of my friends now were the people that came through those classes. It was just this couple
hundred bucks for six in a row, but I put it together, and I started so that could
help pay for the studio. It was crazy because
when I started painting, and I was like, I knew that
I had to get my art better. It was pretty good, but
if it was really good, I thought I could maybe
sell more, you know? But I had to show up. And so, I put everything into this work. I remember, I needed
a gallery at the time. I needed a gallery. I didn’t have any galleries,
and I needed a gallery. I showed my work to some people, and the gallery said
they were gonna come by and check it out. And I won’t name names,
but this gallery came by and looked at my, came by my studio, and normally I would be super intimidated by a gallery coming in looking at my work. It was like all the
judgment and everything. But I didn’t, I didn’t have a choice about whether this was gonna work or not. Everything I had was on this. I had to do this, I had to do it. And I didn’t have a lot of time. I had three months of money, and you know, and my
marriage was, I was apart. I wasn’t even living at home. Everything was a train wreck. I’ll never forget, this gallery came by, and they came and they
looked in the studio, and I was starting to work larger then, and I was working hard, and I put these paintings out that were, I felt were really strong. And they were walking around
and they were looking at it, looking at all, which they’d normally do, and I’m just, you know. But normally I would be like, “Oh God, please, I hope they
like it, I hope they like it.” But my attitude, for some
reason, was totally different. It was like I had gained my
self-confidence a little bit, ’cause I knew the work was good and I knew I was gonna make this happen. I just said, “If you, like, super appreciate
you being here, gallery, “but I’m, like, really busy.” This was a huge turning point for me. I said, “I’m gonna do this art thing, “like, I’m gonna blow it up, and either, “I need someone who
will work as hard as me. “I need a partner. “And if you don’t totally
get this, totally fine, “but I got a lot of work to do.” I dismissed this really reputable gallery. I threw them out of the gallery. I was like, no way. I am not gonna, I’m not tolerating this. Like, I’m doing this, you know? And it was just amazing what happened by setting that intention. It was incredible. The work got stronger. I made it stronger. I totally brought more
of myself to the work. You know, it was just, it was amazing, and then I got another
gallery, and I had a show, and I sold a shitload
of the work, you know? It was like people could feel it. So then, I had about 300
people on my mailing list, people that had taken
my classes and stuff, really small mailing list, and I started to see that, oh my God, this art thing is possible. This is where I learned it. Everything that I’m teaching, you know, this was before Art2Life or anything. But I saw in my own experience, holy crap, stuff started aligning. The universe sent things
that were helpful. I woke up, I was super excited. I started to come back
to the surface of things. So then, I sent out this
email to 300 people, and I said, “I’m gonna be
doing one-on-one coaching “because I’ve got some
information to share.” And I got 10 people, and they
all paid, I think $10,000, and that was the beginning of Art2Life. When I went through
this process with them, when I taught them what I had learned, their careers blew up, right? They were able to make progress. That’s the source of all
this, all of Art2Life. That’s when Art2Life was born. It was out of this time
where I lost everything. You know, it was like, really, just the worst, the
worst, the worst of the worst. That gave me authority to
relate to people who don’t have, they don’t have confidence, they’re not sure if this is possible. That’s the other piece of this, that’s where that information comes from, and that’s what I channel. I know this is possible, and that’s just, it’s sort of a, I know for you guys that are listening, like that’s, we all have this in our life. We all have points where it’s showtime. You do it. When you put that kind of energy into it, when you can get clear
about what you want, and it was forced on me, you know? If I hadn’t lost all my
money, all my security, if my marriage hadn’t fallen apart, all this stuff that brought me, that reduced me down to just being clear, I think the universe was saying, “Dude, you can do this. “I’m gonna take away things
until you can pay attention “to what’s possible for you.” So I had all these things
taken away until all I had left was the one thing that was so important. And because of losing all that stuff, because really, I let
go of so many things, then I was able to start this art thing, and the art thing grew. And of course, you know,
the rest is history. It’s like I get to do this now too, and I get to help a lot of people. And Art2Life, you know, the
Creative Visionary Program, and we’re getting all
these people coming in. We’re just having a huge impact. That the source of it. It’s so cool. It’s such an amazing thing. So, for all of you, those challenges, the difficult times
right now for everyone, whether you’ve done CVP
or not, or whatever, you know, it’s those stories, it’s those challenges that galvanize us. We need that fire to crack open the seed. I just wanted to share that because I think it’s so totally relevant, and I don’t know, I
just didn’t really feel entirely comfortable sharing it today. I don’t know, it’s like there’s
just so much information. I got all these people standing there. It’s a super hard thing to talk about, but I think it’s important. There’s this really great poem, and it’s one of my favorite poems, and it’s by Derek Walcott. I just wanna read it to you guys. It’s called Love After Love. Let’s see if I can get this. Okay, so this is it. “The time will come when, with elation, “you will greet yourself
arriving at your own door, “in your own mirror, “and each will smile
at the other’s welcome “and say, ‘Sit here, eat.’ “You will love again the
stranger who was yourself, “give wine, give bread, give
back your heart to itself, “to the stranger who has loved you. “All your life, whom
you ignored for another, “who knows you by heart. “Take down the love
letters from the bookshelf, “the photographs, the desperate notes. “Peel your own image from the mirror. “Sit, feast on your life.” Isn’t that great? Right, it’s like, it’s you, you know? We need to connect to that. Sometimes, challenges
bring us back to ourselves. We can lose ourselves when
things are all going great, when we have a big ego
and we have a persona that we have to be this thing. I had this, you know,
I’ve had a charmed life. I mean, I’ve always been able to do everything I wanted to do. I was married to the same person. I mean, I met my wife
when I was 17 years old, and we were together for all these years. We were Nick and Jenny, we were this couple that was perfect. Sometimes when things change and you realize how invested you are in something that’s actually, maybe it doesn’t fit you anymore, or that you aren’t those things, or you’re scared to show
that you’re not those things. For me, it was totally the
case, not with either person. I was the person that
always comforted people. That’s been my role, that’s what I do. I’m a caretaker person, you know? But I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to do
it when it happened to me. I didn’t know how to help me. You know, everyone’s got
their own stories, right? Everyone’s got that, you know, the challenges of feeling certain ways or things that we overcome. But it really is powerful,
and you can access that. Your art is a way back to yourself. That’s the whole message here. My art brought me here, brought me to, it brought me everything times 10. I lost everything, and I got so, I got a million times more, you know, and I also at that same time, I had started a business on the side with two close friends, my wife and I did, and it was called rockflowerpaper,
and you can Google it. It still exists. I started this company with
them, and I branded it. It’s got the same kind
of feeling as Art2Life, if you Google it. I came up, and it was all my art. I put it all on these products. There’s boxes and trays
and shirts and mugs, and we produced stuff in Japan and China. I flew to China, and we
had stuff manufactured. I put all this money into it, and I worked with this
other couple who were, they were really into, like, they knew how to scale stuff. We were building this huge
importing gift business and everything, you know. The tagline was, it was all nature-based, it was all my work. It was just that warmth, you know, like I wanted to communicate that warmth. It was called, “Bring the
essence of nature home,” or something like that,
was the tagline to it, and it was all my work. But we didn’t really get along because they were really controlling, and they didn’t understand the vision, and they just wanted to sell out. I didn’t wanna take my
fine art and put little, make little posters out of it. I couldn’t do it. I could do boxes, but they wanted me to
do these little prints that you can sell for 2.99
in these discount stores. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let go of that
dream I had of being an artist, not that that’s not an artist, but I just had a different vision. So, we ended up right,
right before all this, we lost all this money. We had this huge rupture with them, and we ended up suing each other ’cause they kept my imagery. We settled all, and we’re
kind of where it’s okay now, but at the time, so I lost about $200,000 of effort, of work, of all the money we put in. They took it over, they
took control of the company, and we were cut out of it. We couldn’t be in it anyway,
so we lost that as well. And all of my art was taken hostage. It was appearing on all these bags, and it was just so depressing. So, there was just this,
all those things, right? You just can’t believe it. It’s like a tidal wave of wrong things. But man, did it show me, did it teach me about being a human being and how to help people, and humility, and knowing how to pivot. I guess I’m just sharing
this because I think it’s, it is the story of Art2Life, and I guess I just didn’t feel like today I shared entirely everything. And we’re talking about confidence, and it’s a hard thing for
me to talk about, so I just, I don’t know, I just wanted
to share it because it is, it’s really at the core of who I am and what Art2Life is, you know? All that, you know, people
in the Facebook group, it’s so cool. Everyone’s like, “Wow, you know, “people really share and
they support each other.” It’s like, yeah, because
that’s what I needed. That’s what I needed. That’s what I wanted to build for myself, and it’s so cool that that just
gets telegraphed out, right? It gets amplified. What you put out into the world, what you care about just
gets progressively bigger, the ripple effect, the positivity and the impact you can have I mean with your art, or
whatever you wanna do. If it’s aligned with who you are, if it’s honest and it has purpose, super, super powerful. Your art just gets carried along with it. That’s why we teach what we teach. We teach human stuff, we teach life stuff. That’s why I called it Art2Life, because it was both for me. I figured out my art
because my life crashed. Anyway, so, Charlie. “Life humbles, and humility
is not a bad thing. “People think it’s a weak characteristic, “but a golden nugget for life.” Yeah, I know, totally. Yeah, oh, thanks for that Janen. It was, it is hard. And I don’t know, you know, it’s not even so much about me, but I think it does connect to what we’re doing here at Art2Life. It connects to what we do in
the Creative Visionary Program, and it connects to the community, the larger community
that we’re all a part of that is Art2Life. If I’m not, you know, I just, I try to really show up for
people and be authentic. If you can do that and
you do that in your art, it’s really powerful, right? So, yeah, anyway, that’s kind of like the, what happened is crazy. What was so interesting is that, you know, you gain your confidence back, but you always know, you
can always understand how it can feel when you don’t have it. I saw, I can understand looking back now, I was attached to this
idea that I was raised, and I was this caretaker person, and I was like the knight
on a horse all the time. That was what I enjoyed doing. But when I fell off my
horse, I had a big trouble. It was super, super hard ’cause
of what I built around me. So, if you can, and this is especially for people who are starting the
Creative Visionary Program or anything going into your art, if you can let go a little
bit of who you think you are and all of that, you have more space. You have more spaciousness to move. You can open yourself to more people. I can be so, I can connect
so much better to people because of the challenges I had, you know, and I know that everyone has those. I mean, I know all you guys do. We all do, you know? Laurie’s saying, “I’ve been there too, “and art kept me sane.” She was divorced one
month shy of 25 years. “After I discovered my
husband had a girlfriend, “left with my clothes, car,
and art supplies and books.” Yeah, it’s like, you
know, how do you pivot? How do you pivot? And especially when you don’t have, you set up your life so
you’ve got this partner, and they’re giving you feedback, and you know, if they
give you good feedback, you feel better. And all of a sudden,
that just all goes away. How do you do that? That’s what we were talking about today. How do you put your art
in the center place? How do you move that more so that’s what you’re grounded to, right? I remember, I’ve done all
this therapy and stuff, and I remember the
therapist was saying ’cause, we, the relationship I
had, it’s now way better, but it was very codependent, and there were certain things
that we were entangled in ’cause we got together
when we were so young. But he went like this, he goes, “You guys are like this, you know, “all wrapped up with each other.” And he said, “You know, you don’t,” he goes like, “You’re
all totally mixed up, “and if you’re leaning in on each other, “if you’re like this, if
you’re relying on each other “to support each other, “you need each other in this
way, you can never get close. “But if you’re independent,
if you’re autonomous, “if you’re strong individually, “then you can become much closer.” And I never forgot that. The art-making is you, you know? It’s such a cool thing
to use as a metaphor, use as a way to discover
who you are, right, you know, to, that’s this, you know? I don’t know, it’s just
helped me so much in my life, and I see so many people
who are in this community, those stories that we
tell, those case studies. It’s always a challenge,
it’s always something, and then how art helps them in a way. I just, I think it’s
really, really amazing. Anyway, you guys, so I don’t wanna go on and on, here, but I appreciate you being here. You know, it’s funny. We’re selling a course and everything, and we work really hard
trying to do the workshops, but I’m just talking so much to you guys, and it’s really amazing how connected you can become to people even though you’re not standing
in the same room with them. After a couple days, once
the free workshop starts, I always say this. It’s like I can just feel,
I can feel everybody, and I can get a sense of the community. That’s really important because, you know, we’re all working together. I just, it’s great. And I can just feel, I feel that for me, so thank you for that. Anyway, just, scroll through here. Christine, thanks. That’s great. Yeah, Christine’s saying,
“Thank you for sharing. “Finding you, joining
CVP, and pursuing my art “is now the focus of my recovery,” and her addiction almost took everything. Oh yeah, we haven’t even
talked about addictions, all of that stuff, you know? They’re just reactions to imbalance. My rupture was a reaction
to an imbalance in my life, a thing that I was
trying to patch together, and eventually had to open
to heal, to get better. I’m such a better person now, but at the time, I was so
mad because I felt entitled to have things go the way they go. You know, you play the sad
story for yourself for a while, and at a certain point you realize, it’s like, I gotta learn here. I gotta take care of this myself. That’s coming back into yourself. But all my work, all of it, everything changed as a result of it. So, anyway. Great, well, thanks you guys. Really, really sweet for
you to be here, and yeah. Thank you. Yeah, isn’t that, I had never, Lisa’s saying that the universe
presented that poem to her two times within two weeks. Isn’t it great? God, it’s so good. It’s so great. That came across my path when I was going through all that time. The other thing I started doing then was, I remember, I started writing, and I started spending more time on this blog thing I do, but I wasn’t doing video. I didn’t have the self-confidence to stand in front of video. But I was writing, and I
wasn’t very good at writing, and I’m still learning that. I’m better at art. But I was trying to learn, and I remember thinking, I went to this writing, kind of book club where people were working on their books, and I started this book that
I’m working on now, actually, but I started a long time ago. I remember thinking, I wanna have something,
something to show for this time. I didn’t realize that I would
get my art going so well, but I wanted, so that’s why I
went to these writing classes. I just was writing, and I started telling stories, actually. Before I read my little, I would tell, I was writing about art
and life in this thing, but then I would, before I told them the, I read the thing that I had written, I would tell the room about why I was gonna read this thing about art, and I gave them the backstory. And they loved the stories. They were like, “Write about that, “how you’re describing
this is so much better.” But the thing I was
writing was not as good as what I was saying before. So, that was a huge lesson thing, but that got me going on
stories, the power of story, and writing that and sharing that, which I love, I love that, and I’m working on this book
now as a result of that, that start that I did way back then talking about the principles and talking about the lessons
I was learning, you know, the lessons that you learn late at night in your studio about life. I was brought back to the surface of my life through my art, and it’s just, it’s so cool. If you guys can just gain
something from that, that’s great, ’cause if you’re going
through a hard thing now, this is the path, to spend time and get grounded and see yourself in your work and watch as you pay attention to how this thing brings you up, ’cause you feel like you’ve got company, you know what I mean? Yeah, “Peel your own
image from the mirror. “Sit, feast on your life.” So good, so good. Anyway, all right, you guys. Appreciate it. I’m gonna go get some dinner,
get some dinner, here. Anyway, we got a couple more days, and I’m really excited. We got this really fun
artist party tomorrow, and that’s gonna be
really great, and yeah. So, join me for that. It’s 12 o’clock in the Facebook group. We’re gonna send an email out out of it. Any questions, we’re gonna be
up late answering questions about CVP for people that
are on the enrollment page, all that, you know. But anyway, thanks, I appreciate it. Okay, I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye.

9 thoughts on “HOW MY ART SAVED ME AFTER I LOST EVERYTHING

  1. Wow! Thank you for being so authentic. My husband and I (both artists) find your videos and community to be the best place for us to spend our relaxation time.

  2. Thank you for sharing such a powerful touching story. I think this is so important. I have learned so much from your teaching and sharing. Becoming more brave, thank you.

  3. Thanks so much for opening up and being vulnerable, honest and authentic! I appreciate that you're sharing a story that isn't shiny and varnished! We both know through experience that life isn't that easy. I've experienced similar success and setbacks in my career as an artist, I completely lost my confidence as well. I'm still trying to find my way back. Your work and story are inspiring!

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