Beyond being an amazing artist and public speaker, Erik Wahl is a renowned philanthropist and an encouraging example that though our lives don’t always stay the course we envision, we may just end up better off than we ever imagined.
“I spent a full decade in that traditional corporate job that never came close to fulfilling my passions,” said Wahl. “But through a series of life-changing events including losing my job, losing all my money, and losing my carefully manufactured ego, I realized I was now left with my final option: to dig deep and rediscover that exciting, innovative person I always knew lived inside me.”
After graduating from University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in business, Wahl became a partner at a corporate firm. When he lost his lucrative job of eight years in the dot.com bubble of the early 2000’s, Wahl took the opportunity to change his focus to art. He took what could have easily been a devastating career blow and used his talents to inspire untold numbers of people.
An acknowledged success, Wahl began working as a motivational speaker and graffiti artist rather than returning to the corporate world. After a few years of painting and selling his work to buyers, Wahl decided instead to donate his paintings to benefit charities. His art is done for public speaking conferences and charitable events where they are auctioned off.
In 2012, Wahl painted a portrait of Marilyn Monroe in three minutes at a graffiti art auction in front of an audience. His painting was bought by Pink and her husband Carey Hart for $10,000. The proceeds were donated to Linda’s Voice, a non-profit that raises awareness for ending domestic abuse globally.Similarly, Wahl presented at the Influence Affair event thrown by Ian Somerhalder in 2012 for environmental awareness.
In May 2013, he donated his painting of Lady Liberty in a live auction to benefit One Fund Boston, an organization founded by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Tom Menino for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
At the launch event of his book in West Hollywood in 2013, he created a painting of Albert Einstein in front of the audience. The painting was auctioned at Charitybuzz and the proceeds of the painting were donated to After-School All-Stars. In 2014, Wahl donated three paintings to the Miracle-Ear Foundation and raised $21,000.
As a public speaker, Wahl has performed his speed-art presentation called “The Art of Vision” for audiences including schools and universities, conferences, and large companies. He has consulted with many of America’s top corporations such as Fedex, Microsoft, and Disney, as well as guest lectured for the Department of Defense and London’s School of Business. His acclaimed and sought-after artwork has raised over a million dollars for charity and can be seen hanging prominently in executive offices all over the world.
What inspires you?