Keith Ricardo Williams doesn't have to sell his drawings and prints on the corner of Tejon and Kiowa streets, where he sets up shop on clear days. He's been in galleries before, but the pace at which they move doesn't suit him.
"I had two pieces in a Virginia gallery," he says. "They were in there for seven, eight months. Came back to Colorado Springs, [the gallery] shipped them back to me, I put them on the corner, they were gone in six days."
Not only does Williams' art sell fast, it sells cheap. There's plenty of art for the rich, he says, but he wants to make his works available to a bigger audience.
"You definitely ain't gonna find a 26-by-34 pen-and-ink for $250 [in a gallery]," he says.
He's known in part for intricate drawings of trees, each unique and heavily stylized. Visually, he cites German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer's woodcuts as a critical influence. But Williams calls his art a form of pointillism — dots and dashes meant, in this case, to imitate the textures of carved wood. He also does prints of past drawings and photomanipulations, but those sell fast.
Williams has been drawing since childhood, the son of an artist, but it became a career around 12 years ago, in Washington, D.C. After his brother committed suicide, Williams was left homeless. A companion suggested he sell his art to help get back on his feet. The first day, he sold three pieces. The next, he sold 10. And to date, Williams claims he's sold over 3,000 pieces of art.
Williams uses his spot on the street to act as a homeless advocate, guiding them toward self-improvement and stability off the streets. He also runs a discussion group on Facebook that promotes racial unity. Between his art and his charitable work, Williams offers a living study in humility and diligence.