Cataloging your art collection can feel a lot like going to the dentist. You know you should do it, but actually taking the necessary steps seems daunting. And the longer you wait, the harder it is.

Without a studio inventory, though, it’s difficult to know the value of the machinery and tools in your studio, how much art insurance is appropriate to protect your collection and to have the necessary information to file an insurance claim should anything happen to your studio or collection.

There’s good news: a studio inventory is only painful the first time! Once the first inventory is over, you’ll be able to keep track of all purchased items and art moving forward with a little organization.

Here’s how to do a studio inventory:

1. Take Photos of Everything

Using a high-resolution camera, take a photo of every single thing in your studio. We recommend a high-resolution camera, because you can zoom in to see details in the photo if necessary. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Every piece of art in your collection
  • Machinery
  • Tools
  • Art supplies

You should take high-quality photos of your art for marketing purposes anyway, so you're really killing two birds with one stone!

2. Estimate Value of all Items

Ideally, you’ll have two values for every item in your studio: purchase price and replacement cost. The purchase price is the amount you paid when you originally bought the items, and the replacement cost is the amount that would be paid if you were to buy that item today.

If you’ve never done a studio inventory and you’ve had your studio for a while, chances are you’ll only be able to catalogue the replacement cost. That’s okay! Do a little research on Google and document the replacement cost for every item you want to insure in the studio.

3. Keep a Running List of Tools and Materials

In a spreadsheet, keep a running list of items not including your work. We recommend entering the following information:

  • Item type
  • Number of Items
  • Purchase price
  • Replacement price
  • Condition of items

4. Organize Your Collection

To keep an inventory of your work, use a cloud-based management system like Artwork Archive. Simply upload the photos you’ve taken of your collection and enter all relevant information, including dimensions, medium, price, gallery location, sales status, and more.

5. Reevaluate Your Insurance

Now that you have a better understanding of the value of items in your studio and your art collection, take the time to reevaluate your art insurance and any insurance you’ve taken out on your studio. Need help? Check out these five insurance tips for artists.

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