Nicola Ziroli worked his way through school as a stone carver for sculptors and construction firms. In 1930 he graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago. Between 1934 and 1936, Ziroli worked as an easel painter for the Public Works of Art Project and then the Works Progress Administration, producing about seventy paintings for the U.S. government. Both programs were established during the Great Depression under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to help create jobs for millions of unemployed Americans, including artists. He would continue to work for the WPA as the supervisor for Art and Craft Exhibitions. During World War II, Ziroli worked as a map draftsman and airplane riveter for the U.S. Army, and after the war taught at schools in Illinois and Michigan.