3 Art Biz Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Artwork Archive | July 26, 2017 (Updated September 20, 2022)

Running an art business can feel a lot like riding a roller coaster—ups and downs, twists and turns, not always knowing where you’ll be whizzed to next, exciting nevertheless.

Luckily, artists are becoming more connected each day, making it easier than ever to learn from and lean on those who’ve come before us. Problems are always bound to arise, but being able to hear what works and what doesn’t from artists you trust can be a huge help when it comes to avoiding some of these troubles in your own art business.

That’s why we’ve gathered three different stories from three successful artists about some of the biggest problems they’ve encountered during their careers.

Read on to hear their takeaways and get some inside knowledge emerging artists won’t want to miss out on.

“I Didn’t Keep Track of My Art”

As Jane Hunt’s art business grew, it became increasingly difficult to stay organized:

“I’ve accidently double-sold a piece before. I sold it to someone and it had been sold at one of my galleries at the same time. I’ve also entered a painting into a show when it was actually unavailable in a gallery. It was very stressful not knowing where everything was. I kept feeling like I was going to mess up.”

This acclaimed artist tried to come up with her own system, but it was a waste of time. It wasn’t very streamlined or very useful.

After feeling much too overwhelmed by the management aspect of an art career, she turned to her good friend Heather Arenas for a solution. Heather recommended Artwork Archive, and Jane has never looked back.

Now, she has more time to paint and market her work instead of worrying over organization with a good system in place to keep track of her art.

“I Didn’t Go Cloud-Based”

Ever wake up to a nightmare that you lost your entire hard drive? Artist Terrill Welch knows that crisis first hand.

One day, her laptop’s hard drive completely failed—and the program she had installed to manage her art career was *poof* gone.

Luckily, she had hardcopy backups of her inventory and sales information, but what would happen if she continued having computer troubles? Her precious time, money, and information would be lost all over again.

That’s when Terrill decided to look for an art inventory system online. She found Artwork Archive and saw how easy it was to use. She could track inventory, shows, and sales records, and the best part? All of her art business information is automatically backed up and stored on the cloud.

“If my device fails, that is all that is lost, not my art records. Basically, once I get a work entered into the system, I never have to input this information again. I love that!” - Terrill Welch


“I Didn’t Record My Provenance”

Prominent art business expert and artist Lori McNee has expressed disappointment about one certain aspect of her career—she doesn’t know where a lot of her painting are and who owns them.

Jane Hunt echoed these sentiments, saying, “I didn’t used to understand how incredibly important it is. I’ve been painting for 25 years and I don’t know what’s happened to most of my art.”

Why is it such a big deal?

More information about an artwork, the story behind it, and its artist can actually help a piece’s artistic and monetary appreciation.

According to Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, solid and documentable provenance increases the value and desirability of an artwork. Failure to keep careful records of this pertinent information can cause a work to be undervalued, remain unsold or lost without the promise of recovery.

Now, Lori and Jane are huge believers in provenance and documentation.

While no one starts off as a prominent artist, the day will come when you need an accurate record of what you’ve done over your career. And, managing your career from start to finish with an art inventory software like Artwork Archive can do just the trick!

In the end…

Running an art business doesn’t always go as planned. Even successful professionals like Jane Hunt, Terrill Welch, and Lori McNee have experienced hiccups.

But we can always learn something valuable from those who’ve come before us, and their experiences demonstrate just how crucial it is to stay on top of where your artwork is, document your career from the start, and ensure that you never lose this important information.

Don’t learn these lessons the hard way. Try Artwork Archive free for 14 days and see how easy it can be to manage your art career.

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