ArtLifting, an e-commerce platform that sells artworks of homeless and disabled, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding round by Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, Boss Syndicate and Tumml.
Founded in 2013 by siblings Liz and Spencer Powers, the startup ArtLifting is an online marketplace that allows buyers to browse by artist, art type or city and offers a variety of products from smartphone cases and greeting cards to framed prints and canvases. Prices range from $1000 to $10,000 for original artwork, to around $150 for fine art prints and $35 for smartphone cases. 55% of the profit from each sale goes to the artist and rest for the company to cover its costs. It also has corporate clients like Staples Inc which recent brough many art works for its corporate offices. “Once I saw the art, once I met with the folks at ArtLifting, I saw that we could get beautiful work for our space while helping the community,” said Staples Chief Culture Officer John Burke.
“Curating for Fortune 500 corporate spaces is an exciting frontier for ArtLifting,” said ArtLifting’s Chief Curator and founding team member, Stephanie Wright. “We consider these corporate partnerships to be a major win-win: Businesses gain beautiful artworks that highlight their social responsibility, and ArtLifting gains high-level exposure for our artists as well as invaluable insight into best practices from some of the world’s most successful companies.”
With the fresh funds, the Boston-based ArtLifting plans to invest in expansion as a public benefit corporation and to conduct tests within its e-commerce and corporate sales channels. It intends to strengthen its team by doubling the number and the company’s artist base by the year-end.
The company is very clear to remain as a for-profit entity with a 55/45% profit split with its artists. “We are very clear that we are not a charity,” says co-founder Liz Powers, “We are simply providing our artists an opportunity to earn their own income and be treated as individuals with dignity. Our profit split very closely mirrors the typical split you would see in the art world, and being for-profit is the only structure that truly allows us to scale quickly and sustainably.”
ArtLifting finds it artists through local art teachers working in homeless shelters. The teachers pre-screen to find potential candidates for the website and then the company selects the most promising artwork.
Kelly McKenna, COO and co-founder of ArtLifting said, ” Closing this fundraising round, especially from the group of investors we have, is a phenomenal milestone both for our artists and for our team. It has already allowed us to start building out a dynamite team, to build a much more robust website, and to change an increasing number of lives. We are thrilled.”