5 Ways to Use Catalog Pages to Accelerate Your Art Career

Emilie Trice | September 2, 2022

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

In the art market, aesthetics matter — and the devil is in the details. 

Advisors, collectors, gallerists, jurors, curators and everyone involved in the fine art industry have certain expectations when it comes to professional communications. Luckily, exceeding those expectations is a snap with Artwork Archive

Artwork Archive’s catalog pages are the quick and simple way to generate professional PDFs of artwork with the supporting details you choose. Save your preferred settings as a template to further accelerate your workflow and optimize your studio time. 

No more messing around with text layouts or resizing images—Artwork Archive does all that work for you, resulting in a professional PDF that can be downloaded and sent as an attachment or simply shared via a URL link.

Here, we outline the top five uses for catalog pages for artists.

Creating a sales offer for a seasoned collector

Catalog pages are the perfect way to showcase artworks to buyers. Elegantly designed, Artwork Archive’s catalog pages feature large-scale primary images to best present your work. You can also include secondary detail shots or other additional images such as installation views. 

It’s easy to arrange the order of your artworks using the custom order function, so you can have total control over how your work is presented. Adding your details in the footer or uploading a header lets you incorporate your branding into every page for visual consistency, a clear indicator of professionalism that your clients will notice. 

With catalog pages, you can also include important details about an artwork such as its provenance, related publications, and exhibition history. This information is helpful for collectors to have handy when choosing art to acquire.

Auction catalogs are essentially designed the same exact way in order to give bidders and potential buyers the most complete history of an artwork as possible—a proven best practice when it comes to selling art. 

Presenting work to a gallerist or curator

These days, it’s poor form to send a ton of images attached to an email (or worse, many emails!). Don’t do that. Instead, generate a portfolio of your work as a single PDF with your contact details on every page. 

Gallery directors and exhibition managers already have enough to juggle without having to also chase down miscellaneous artwork information, such as the weight of a sculpture or its location for pick-up. 

With catalog pages, you can include those details in the PDF after each primary image page, so all the information is compiled into one digital document. Doing so will not only impress your exhibition and business partners, but it will also show them that you respect their time by streamlining communications.

An example of the first page of Catalog Pages in Artwork Archive. See more here

Preparing for an exhibition opening

Sometimes, if you want something done right, you may have to do it yourself. Huge group exhibitions, art fair expos, or shows in project spaces may not have full administrative support, which can result in less-than-perfect exhibition checklists. 

If you have a series of works in a show, consider creating your own mini-exhibition catalog, which you can either print out to have on-hand during the exhibition, or link to digitally from a QR code label that can be affixed to the wall next to your work.  

Artwork Archive’s QR code labels can link to the artwork on your public profile or to a custom URL. The custom URL would be the link generated once you’ve created a catalog page. That link will send customers to the PDF, which they can then download to email to their art advisor or whomever else they may turn to for acquisition advice. 

Or, you can double down by adding the link to the catalog page in the artwork description on your public profile. You just need to insert a basic HTML snippet like so: <a href="url of catalog page">Download Catalog Page</a>

To learn more about adding a hyperlink to an artwork description on your public profile, read this help doc.

View of artist public profle on Artwork Archive's Discovery portal with catalog page PDF download link.

Applying to grants and residencies

When throwing your hat in the ring for artist residencies and grants, presentation is key. Jurors, curators and other administrators will pay attention to who put time into their application and who phoned it in at the last minute. The good news is that, with Artwork Archive, it only takes a minute to generate polished and professional application PDFs using catalog page templates

Winning grants and other competitions requires a mixture of skill and perseverance. By some degree, it’s a numbers game—the more opportunities you apply to, the higher your chances are of being selected. Still, applying to opportunities shouldn’t distract from your main objective of making art—that would be counter-productive. 

There’s nothing worse than having to reinvent the wheel every time an application is due. That’s a waste of time and energy—both of which you should be putting into your art!

To simplify the process, do the following:

  • Create an application catalog template with your preferred settings to showcase your best work.

  • Add deadlines and reminders to your Artwork Archive schedule, along with web links for quick reference. You’ll get an email every Monday morning letting you know what’s ahead for the week so you’ll never forget a deadline or important date.

  • If there’s an application fee, add it as an expense under Income. These fees can add up fast, so it’s important to keep track of them as you go—you’ll be grateful you did come tax time!

  • Upload your artist statement and CV to MyDocs so they are readily accessible. 

  • Now that all your important data is in your Artwork Archive account, you can access it and apply to residencies from any wifi-connected device, even your phone. If something should happen to your laptop, your hard drive or any other computer you use, fret not! Your Artwork Archive account will still be accessible so you won’t miss a beat.

To learn more about best practices when applying to grants, watch this webinar with expert panelists Judy Cai, Director of NYFA GrantsJosely Carvalho, multimedia artist and recipient of the Lee Krasner Award—which recognizes a lifetime of artistic achievement—and Elizabeth Keithline, artist, curator, and founder of Wheel Arts Administration.

Building your own catalogue raisonné to support your artistic legacy

It’s quite typical for established artists to have entire archival teams devoted to securing their legacy through a comprehensive catalog raisonné. The New York Public Library defines a catalog raisonne as follows:

A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known works of an artist either in a particular medium or all media.

Below is a list of the information that’s generally included in a catalogue raisonné, so it is available for future curators, scholars, and collectors. 

  • Title (and title variations)

  • Dimensions / weight (if applicable)

  • Date(s) of the work

  • Medium

  • Reproduction of each work (images and detail shots of the piece)

  • Current location/owner at time of publication (“Private Collection, City” is often used in the event that the current owners wish to remain anonymous)

  • Provenance (history of ownership)

  • Exhibition history

  • Condition of the work

  • Bibliography/Literature that discusses the work

  • Full description of the work

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Monograms of the artist (you can upload images of signatures and include information, such as “signed on verso”  in the field labeled “Signature Info”)

  • Catalog number (ie inventory number)

As noted above, Artwork Archive includes fields for all of this information in each artwork record, so you can build your own catalogue raisonné while you grow your career. Don’t wait for someone else to manage your artistic legacy—you can begin the process right now and ensure that your entire creative career is documented for posterity.

For catalogue raisonné examples and inspiration, check out the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR), which hosts a free catalogue raisonné database.

Artwork Archive gives artists the digital tools they need to effortlessly navigate the constantly-evolving art world. With catalog pages and the other features Artwork Archive offers, artists can streamline their administrative tasks and get back to doing the creative work they love. 

Ready to step up your art practice? Artwork Archive is trusted by artists in over 160 countries — at every stage of their careers. Try it for free.

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