Art is such an important component of society, and it has been since before the written word. It not only provides an outlet for expression for the artist, but societies are characterized based on the art they leave behind. It’s used to explore the socio-economic and political experiences of the culture it’s created in.
But even though art can be created by anyone with a vision and the internet has made it easier to get one’s art out into the world, it’s still difficult for artists and studios to gain the traction needed for artwork to become profitable. And the more profitable an artwork is, the more viewers it can receive.
For David Schwartz, founder and CEO of We Are Lions, and his team, their goal is to make the artwork of those with disabilities and mental illness more accessible.
“It started as an idea in 2010 while I was a senior in high school,” Schwartz explains. “It took about two years to develop an actual product because at the time the idea was ahead of technology.
“It started because of inspiration I had received from being within the community,” he continues. “My uncle had schizophrenia, and he didn’t have a lot of people outside his immediate family. He was an incredible human and very nice, funny and capable of love. I wanted to share him and those who have similar lifestyles with the world.”
What has grown is a commercial outlet for those who are neuroatypical or otherwise disabled to have their artwork showcased. “I thought it would be good to put artwork on things like clothing to make them more accessible,” Schwartz says. “Then the needs of the community became more apparent, so we expanded from clothing to home décor.”
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For the average consumer, home goods and apparel can be bought on We Are Lions’ website, but for the design community, original artwork and framed prints can be purchased—including in print bundles for hotels, healthcare and corporate uses.
“It’s what we strive to do: to put these artists in front of folks,” Schwartz explains.
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