The first thing you notice about the artwork on Artlifting.com is how good it is. It would surely hang in many a gallery. That the site sells the art on behalf of the homeless and disabled–who wouldn’t normally get anything for their work–is all the more uplifting.
Set up by Liz Powers and her brother Spencer, the site has been operating for about a year now. The duo works with art groups in five cities–Boston, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Austin–and has acted as a broker for 35 artists so far. It’s sold 550 works to date, some of them for thousands of dollars.
“My job used to be running art groups in homeless shelters and I realized there were so many amazingly talented artists,” Liz Powers says. “I thought ‘why not help them build confidence and gain income by selling their work?'”
Since signing on to the site, several of the artists have managed to secure housing and get themselves better established. Some like Scott Benner, who produces intricate black-and-white line drawings, have had exhibitions and given speeches about their experiences.
“I think the combination of having that confidence and focusing on your talent and having the whole support network around them is really life-changing,” Powers adds.
Artlifting.com is a middleman between artist and buyer. It takes a 45% cut to cover its expenses and invest in expanding the business further. This year, the Powers want to go three more cities–New York, Los Angeles and Chicago–and complete more bulk sales to hotels and office chains.
“It’s an important point that this isn’t a charity,” Powers says. “All the artists we work with are dying to earn their own income and not have a handout. They’re the ones who are earning their way.”