Annie Lu ’23

ArtLifting, Boston, MA

I worked as a data management and sales operations intern this summer at ArtLifting, a social enterprise that empowers artists impacted by homelessness and disabilities. ArtLifting manages the sale of their artwork like any other professional art gallery would, but with the additional goal of creating meaningful social impact by offering office wall art, corporate merchandise, and image licensing to socially conscious clients such as LinkedIn, Google, and PayPal.

Annie Lu at a computer.
I worked with a “for-profit for-purpose” start-up called ArtLifting, which works with artists impacted by housing insecurity and disabilities.

I was first drawn to ArtLifting because of its intriguing business model as a “for-profit for-purpose” startup: the company retains 44 percent of the profits made from selling artwork to continue developing the company, while the artist earns 55 percent, and the remaining one percent goes towards a fund that provides art supplies to groups nationally.

My primary goal as a summer intern was to use databases and sales operations software to identify real estate projects and associated contacts who could be potential clients. I learned how to use the real estate database CoStar to export lists of data, then helped develop templates using Excel to process the exports into usable worklists of emails that get sent out in cold outreach campaigns. I learned principles and techniques of data management in order to handle interlocking spreadsheets with hundreds of thousands of data points. I also spent several weeks researching and analyzing the corporate art market, using both public data from government databases and internal data from the company’s CRM. I developed my own metrics for evaluating the revenue potential in different industries, as well as the growth rates of different metropolitan areas. The result of my research was a list of the top 20 regional markets that ArtLifting should focus on in targeted, geographic outreach, as well as an estimate of what percentage of the art market the company has left to capture. These endeavors, as well as participating in weekly corporate sales strategy meetings, helped me gain a better sense of how business decisions are made on a high level.

I found ArtLifting’s position as a benefit corporation in the art industry to be particularly eye-opening, as the intersection of the two represents my desire to retain creativity and idealism amidst pragmatism and analytical reasoning. This internship reinforced my hope that, wherever I work in the future, I will be contributing to social impact. While only tangentially related to my responsibilities at ArtLifting, I’m also interested in delving deeper into the world of disability advocacy, mental health systems, and legal reform as these issues related to the lives of artists in ArtLifting’s program. As someone interested in a potential career in law to pursue justice reform and advocate for those disadvantaged by current systems, it was valuable to work alongside and on behalf of members of underrepresented communities.

I want to express gratitude to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for providing me the advice that led to me seeking out this opportunity in the first place. I also appreciate the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Case for enabling me to make the most of this experience.