After working with vulnerable populations for years as a caseworker, Liz Powers switched to running art groups in shelters and was “totally amazed” by the talent she saw. She was inspired to create a way for artists facing homelessness and disability to harness their creative talents and stabilize their income.
Powers explained to HuffPost that her clients would frequently tell her, “Liz, I don’t want another handout. I just want opportunity.’” To provide them with that, she and her brother created ArtLifting, a website that curates and sells original artwork.
“My brother and I thought, ‘Well, why not create a scalable marketplace where we can sell artwork across the country and also help artists make unending money from the sale of print sent products from their work?’” Powers said.
The company started three years ago now features work from about 120 artists in 19 cities throughout the country. The website works “just like a normal gallery,” Powers said, and 55 percent of the profit goes back to the artist. ArtLifting features 1,300 images that can be sold as prints, bags and phone cases.
As buyers of ArtLifting’s merchandise enjoy their purchases, the artists are reaping the benefits. Powers said five of the artists have gained housing and she looks forward to the company expanding even more.
“I firmly believe that everyone can contribute to the economy in a positive way,” she said. “The whole concept of job-lifting, of creating more jobs to include more people and have that domino effect of hope.”