Portrait of Success: Art Company Offers Hope to Homeless and Disabled Artists
Guest Blog by Liz Powers, ArtLifting Co-Founder & Chief Happiness Spreader
As an 18-year-old living in Boston, I embarked on a unique and life-changing mission. After securing a grant from Harvard University to create art groups in homeless shelters, I was immediately struck by the incredible artistic talent I saw among some of the people I met. Unfortunately, their interesting works of art had no place for display, and so they would sit in storage collecting dust. I learned that thousands of art groups around the country were in place, but there was no collective space to sell the art.
Brainstorming with my brother, Spencer, we came up with the idea of becoming brokers for artists across the country – selling their original art, but also creating prints and other products for sale. It was an idea that we knew would fulfill us personally and professionally, but more importantly give these artists a sense of purpose as well as an income.
Thus, the online marketplace “ArtLifting” was founded in November 2013, selling the work of artists who are homeless or living with a disability. We started with four artists in Boston, and through the growth of e-commerce, have grown to almost 100 artists in 16 states!
As a social enterprise and benefit corporation, ArtLifting does business for good. Every artist earns 55% from the sale of their work. One percent from each sale goes toward strengthening art services for community partners that support ArtLifting artists, including art programming at social service agencies, shelters, and disability centers. ArtLifting uses the remaining 44% to further the mission.
Three years after founding ArtLifting, I’m amazed at our journey. I’ve seen our business transform lives. Amidst all the buzz, my greatest source of pride is ArtLifting’s role in creating jobs, and giving artists the ability to secure their own income and feel empowered.