Job Title and Description:Co-founder and Chief Happiness Spreader at ArtLifting
College Name/Major:Harvard, Sociology
Twitter Handle:@artlifting / @lizpowersss
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Liz Powers: A typical day, let’s see… I’m usually in meetings with potential customers and partner companies to help not only sell artwork and products but also spread our mission across the country.
What is the best part of your job?
LP: I would say getting to know the artists and seeing their enormous smiles whenever their artwork is shown or when they get a check on the 15th of each month. One particular story: One of our artists, Nick Morris, is non-verbal autistic, and he uses artwork to speak. We had a gallery show for him and other artists in the Boston Design Center, and it was unbelievable to see his smile looking at his artwork on the clean white gallery walls with the wooden floor and professional lighting above it. He was just so excited to have people looking at his artwork and being impressed.
What inspired you to co-found ArtLifting?
LP: I’ve worked with homeless individuals for the last ten years. I used to run art groups in shelters, and I was incredibly amazed by the talent I saw and wanted to share it with the community and help artists not only earn money but, more importantly, build confidence.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
LP: A few weeks ago we were on the Today show and on the cover of the New York Times' "Business" section. This was all within about a week, and it was really exciting to get real national recognition and people looking at our story. We got thousands and thousands of emails of people being moved by the artists, and it was also huge for sales.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
LP: I think that the number one piece that I would go to is a Mother Teresa poem that is “Do It Anyway.” It says people will attack you if you’re nice—be kind anyway. It goes through all these situations about taking the higher road and staying optimistic. Whenever I’m having a rough day, that’s what I go to.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
LP: Don’t overthink and just go for it. With ArtLifting, we had never made a website before, and we just started with $4,000 of savings. We were able to bootstrap revenue figures and help five artists gain housing. If you think of all the challenges you face as an entrepreneur, any logical person would never do it. I would say just follow your passion and don’t be afraid of taking risks and learning as you go.