Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Richard Hutchins grew up in Techwood Homes, one of America’s first federal public housing projects, before moving to Los Angeles. He found an art studio in LA where he could carry out his passion for painting. Eventually, Hutchins found himself in an LA county jail for a crime he was later found not guilty of.
While behind bars, Hutchins spent his days painting with any materials he could find — toothpaste, Kool-Aid, the colored dye coating of Skittles and M&Ms, and a paintbrush made from his plucked beard hairs.
When Hutchins was released, his art studio had been ruined by a fire and he became homeless again, ending up in shelters on Skid Row for six years.
This past Easter Sunday, everything changed.
Hutchins was at a grocery store when he ran into Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley, rapper 2Chainz’s former manager. Ever since, Jabaley and his company, the Dream Machine, have helped change Hutchins’ life. When asked what his dream was, Hutchins said: “My dream is to walk into a museum one day and see one of my paintings hanging on the wall.”
Jabaley took Hutchins to a store and purchased $2,000 worth of painting supplies. Then, Jabaley and his team made a website for Hutchins to sell his work, including the 250 envelopes he had painted on while in jail. Four hours after the website went live, the team had sold $50,000 worth of art.
Hutchins has made over $200,000 from art sales so far, with buyers like Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey and Steve Harvey.
Hutchins hopes to help others get off of Skid Row. “I remember the night I slept in a firm good bed. It was a wonderful experience,” he told CNN. “But I am not comfortable until everybody around me is comfortable, which means the people that I left behind.
“The money that we have raised and continue to raise, I am going to use … to at least try to make the world a little bit better place to live in — especially on Skid Row.”
Image source: Inspire More