Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
How can you spring-clean your physical and digital spaces as an artist?
Your studio is a well-organized cabinet of curiosities, right?
A veritable stockpile of prepared materials organized by their use, clean tools sorted by their function, and clean and dirty areas for completing various tasks related to your practice. Visitors to your space feel welcomed and there is a clean area for them to sit and view the work.
Or, perhaps more likely (like the rest of us) your studio is at one end of the dining room table, located under a pile of weekly papers from your kid’s school, detritus from the last grocery store trip, and several unfinished cups of coffee and wine.
In either scenario, whether you feel super organized already or know you need to clear space to work, spring is an excellent time to reset your space both physically and digitally and prepare for the months to come.
When people feel organized, they are more likely to be creative.
Being organized means you can respond quickly to professional requests, making you easier to work with and more likely to be favored for partnerships in the future.
An artist's checklist for tidying up a physical space for your artwork:
First, get rid of anything that is clearly trash. This includes items that are rotting, broken, or used up. Sort into recycling if you are able to recycle in your area.
Take stock of what you have and how large your current project is. If you’ve been in your space for 40 years, it’s going to take longer than if you moved in last month and have been working on one thing the whole time. Plan your time accordingly, perhaps you are going to clean and inventory on Friday afternoons for a few hours for a couple of months, or maybe you can knock this out in an hour or two. Break the task into something manageable to you so you follow through.
Devise or reclaim an organizational system that works for you. Many artists prefer an industrial shelving system with bins or buckets where they can sort materials and tools by their use. If you have the means, investing in rack shelving or canvas storage if you are a painter is a major upgrade. Keep like materials with like materials and whenever possible, label things for yourself so you know at a glance what is where. If you’re fairly tidy and already organized, spruce up what you have and re-sort disorganized materials since your last clean-up.
Contact artist friends or people with children to see if they can use your unused supplies. You can also look up nonprofits in your area that sell used art materials such as Starlandia in Savannah or SCRAP in San Francisco and make a donation. Wherever the stuff is going, make it a goal to get it there (and out of your space!) within the week.
Complete any partially completed tasks that are cluttering up your space. These kinds of tasks include unpacking work you received back from a gallery, repairing a damaged piece for a collector, shredding old confidential papers, or anything else you have on the back burner.
Document work you have for sale. If you find work that you no longer want in your possession while going through the archives, and don’t need to hold onto it for a show, document it and organize a studio sale for your social followers and newsletter subscribers. Regularly letting go of works you have no intention of exhibiting again frees up space for more work in the future.
An artist's checklist for tidying up a digital space for your artwork:
Organize your phone camera roll. Delete photos you don’t need or outtakes, and tag and sort whatever images you plan to keep so they are searchable. When possible, name your files with the same name you plan to use on your Artwork Archive profile so they are easily searchable.
Document and add works to your archive. As you were cleaning your physical space you may have noticed pieces in your possession that are not on your Artwork Archive account; take some time to document and add any works that previously were unaccounted for.
Cross-check any artworks in your inventory that are listed in multiple places. For example, when you make a sale, you should update both your website and your AA profile to register for the sale. One great tip is that you can easily embed your Artwork Archie Public Profile into your artist website so that you don't have to update your sales in multiple places! You can learn more about how to set that up here. Keeping great records of sales throughout the year will help you when getting your receipts together to file taxes, but if you’ve been forgetting, add in whatever sales you remember now to your Artwork Archive profile to store that information.
Clean up your inventory in Artwork Archive. Clean up any other incomplete or inaccurate records you find using our bulk edit function. Did a bunch of pieces come back from a show? Be sure to update their location in your studio.
Update your artwork images. Check to make sure the photos you have of your work are the best quality and most recent on your Artwork Archive profile.
Make collections of your artwork. Use our collections feature to group works by year, series or show, whichever organizational umbrella is going to be easiest for you to remember and use later.
Getting organized is a daily practice but if you follow these guidelines you’ll have set yourself up with systems to maintain which is far easier than starting over with your spring cleaning each time.
Ready to get organized?
With a free 14-day trial of Artwork Archive, you can start your cataloging project with ease.
Start tracking your artwork and save time on the admin side of your art business. With an art inventory system like Artwork Archive, you can document your art, keep track of your exhibitions and galleries, build provenance and grow your career. You can learn more about the benefits of archiving your artwork here and watch video tutorials about getting started with the platform here.