Esther Loopstra. Unseen Intelligence collection in process 2. Photo credit: Judy Lee Photography. 

Have you been thinking it's time to finally start your cataloging project?

If you have, you might already know that archiving your artwork with an inventory system can help you track your artworks, stay organized, and build your artistic legacy. But, you still might have some questions about getting started. 

You might be asking yourself: Is archiving your art worth the time investment? 

What are the benefits of using an inventory system?

What can I expect from the process?

For some artists, it’s about organizing their artworks during their careers in order to save time previously spent looking around for files and information. For others, an art inventory system like Artwork Archive enables artists to capture and preserve their body of work over the span of their careers. And still, for some, using an inventory system helps them grow their art business with ease. 

There are a lot of reasons that artists want to catalog their artwork, but business success and building and documenting an art career were among the recurring themes. 

From reducing stress and increasing professionalism to preserving an artistic legacy, here are the top 9 reasons that artists choose to inventory and archive their artwork. 

(Left) Seascape 78 | CalmClaire Gill Fine Art. 34 x 34 cm (Right) Artist Claire Gill. You can see more of her work on Discovery

To make tracking artwork details easier.

I realized quite quickly that there was a need to create an inventory of my works. I create limited edition prints and for each image, I produce three editions in a small, medium, and large size. There are a set number of pieces in each size edition, ranging from 10-50.

When I started selling my work and exhibiting in different galleries I needed to record where each edition of each print was and when it was delivered. Was it framed or unframed? Had it sold or been returned or lost? I started to record these things on a spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet was getting bigger and bigger, and my skills were not such that I could keep track of all the information I needed to keep track of.

As an artist who works on a computer, I feel the precariousness of technology. Computers can break down. I have lost thousands of photographs previously because I did not back them up and technology moves on. I wanted a system of inventory that was external to my own equipment, that would be there if for whatever reason my local records were lost or failed. 

I wanted a system that could understand the complex needs of recording all my editions and the places they were being exhibited and sold etc. I found Artwork Archive did all of the things I needed and was very user-friendly.

- Claire Gill

 

(Left) Artist Emily Moores. (Right) Wild Whimsy by Emily Moores. Paper, wood and fabric 180 x 360 x 120 in.

To get organized and save time.

Before using Artwork Archive, I was completely disorganized with my artwork. I would rename and re-measure pieces every time I applied to an exhibition. I tried using spreadsheets, and it was still hard for me to manage.

Having an inventory that uses photos makes things a lot simpler. A big part of my problem was that all my information was saved in different spots on my computer. I had a hard time keeping track. Then I would try to create a spreadsheet, but I would forget about it. 

As I have created more artwork over the years and participated in more exhibitions, my need to organize my inventory of artwork has increased. I need to track where artworks are located or when they get shipped out/returned. This is a little too much for one spreadsheet.

- Emily Moores

(Left) Dalkeith burred oak 4, Tansy Lee Moir. Charcoal on Canson C à grain paper, 85 x 60 x 3 cm. (Right) Artist Tansy Moir at work. 
To avoid double-selling artworks.

I’ve always been fairly good at maintaining a catalog of my work, but with no proper inventory system, this became more difficult as I got busier.

The turning point came when I was preparing to send work to a show and spent two hours looking for a piece I’d forgotten I’d sold! I realized how much time I was wasting on admin tasks, so I tried Artwork Archive’s free trial and immediately saw it was what I needed to run my business professionally.

Tansy Lee Moir

(Left) Artist Anne Wölk. (Right) Hill Sphere by Anne Wölk. Oil and Acrylic on canvas, 19.3 x 19.3 in.

To get an overview of your collectors and clients.

The main reason [I began inventorying my artwork] was that I wanted to get an overview of which collectors and organizations had acquired works from me to date. I also tried to collect the contact details and wanted to understand my cash flow better.

Anne Wölk

(Left) Artist Jessica Violetta. (Right) Unity, by Jessica Violetta. Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 16 x 20 x 1 in.  

To maintain professional relationships with galleries.

When I was in my final year of art school, a professor was talking about his art inventory and its importance when dealing with clients and galleries.

By the time I graduated, I had already sold my first painting and had a few gallery shows. I realized I was going to lose track of where things were [if I didn't start one].

I'm someone who needs to keep numbers and logistical things organized so I can let my mind wander with the creative parts. When I found Artwork Archive, it was so perfect—the visual aspect of it was exactly what I needed. And, I'm using it to keep track of my many print editions as well!

Jessica Violetta

 

(Left) Résurgence by Tania Hillion. Oil on cradled wood panel, 48 x 36 x 1.625 in.(Right) Artist Tania Hillion.

To ditch messy desktop folders and get a complete overview of your artwork.

Very recently, in December 2021, I started considering an online solution to archive and thoroughly document my work as I had over 100 pieces and I was losing track of info such as the date of creation, the format, etc...

I had pictures in several folders and partial data many files—it was quite tedious to get a clear overview of all the work.

Coming from an IT background where I used to work closely with developers in order to customize our CMS, my very first intention was to build my own database. But, prior to doing so, I wanted to take a look at turnkey solutions to ensure I didn't spend time reinventing the wheel.

So, I bookmarked a few tools and I was actually very surprised by the features offered by Artwork Archive.

To begin with, the full month trial of Artwork Archive was very generous and gave me plenty of time to explore the platform. I produced an Excel document containing all data of the artwork I had created so far, and then I had the Artwork Archive team upload it for me as a free service on the plan I am on.

Now, all my content is registered in the database. I still need to update some pieces with photos of the works, but basically, I can now find it all in one place. I love both the flexibility and the compatibility of the tool with external solutions.

Given the possibility to make a selection of my artworks from Artwork Archive and integrate it effortlessly into my website was a game-changer.


This feature is particularly powerful because I do not have to spend time on both platforms to create and publish my content. Now, everything is created only once into Artwork Archive and from there, I can simply decide if I want the piece to be made public or remain private.

When it comes to applying to an open call, I can generate a Portfolio Page that contains all the info that I need.

I also love the Private Rooms feature. I just finished working on a family portrait commission and it was a straightforward way to share updated pictures of the painting to my client and the members of the family during the painting process, ensuring everyone has access to the latest version of the work.

Another thing that I appreciate is the dynamism of the Artwork Archive team—both on the support side and on the teams that develop new features. I was very comforted in the fact that they pay close attention to their customer's feedback and have the tool constantly improving accordingly. Listening to one of their webinars about the year in review, where they explained to their customers the future upgrades convinced me to sign on.

Tania Hillion

(Left) Orange You Glad To See Me Baggage Cart, by Theda Sandiford. Hollow braided polyurethane rope, gold 850 and neon orange 850 paracord, and neon orange zip tie blanket and solar LED lights on a gold spray-painted recovered shopping cart. 43 x 35 x 40 in. (Right) Wonder Woman Selfie, Teda Sandiford. Acrylic paint, shoe polish, plastic mesh, tissue paper, magazines, construction paper, recycled band posters, wrapping paper, laser prints, fabric, glitter, beads, bottle caps, army men, washers, stickers, silk flower on cradled birch board.48 x 36 x 2 in.

To be more efficient and create reports quickly.

I started on Artwork Archive in 2016 because I needed a more efficient way to keep track of my artwork. I used to use a spreadsheet to track my exhibition submissions. I kept my images in a Google folder and Word Doc for artwork specs. As organized as I was, I keep losing things and having to recreate similar reports over and over.

Artwork Archive greatly improved my efficiency.

Checking in and out artworks from different locations, keeping track of my exhibition calendar, inventory contact sheets, printing labels, and storing all my images in one place has upped my professionalism—and saves me a ton of time!

Theda Sandiford

(Left) Artist Erin Kendrik. Photo courtesy of the artist. (Right) TayErin Kendrick. Acrylic & Watercolor Crayon on Arches Paper 48 x 65 in. "Tay is a delight. She loves to be a good helper and she always does a great job. She’s kind, thoughtful and believes in 3rd chances. She loves matching pjs and singing out loud but strange noises keep her up at night."

To take control of your artistic legacy.

I started to inventory and archive a few years ago after a mastermind meeting with fellow Artwork Archive artist Princess Simpson-Rashid.

We spoke about creating legacies and taking control of the maintenance our life's work now, in the present. We both have used the platform consistently since then!

Erin Kendrick

(Left) Artist Taylor Kibby, photo courtesy of the artist. (Right) Taylor Kibby. Tangle 1, Stoneware, Mason Stain, Embroidery Thread, 18 x 14 x 14 in

To cut down on stress and keep track of artwork information in one place.

It was really for my own sanity. The amount of information that each piece has attached to it is astonishing and keeping a good archive preserves space in my mind for the actual imagining and making of art. 

I love Artwork Archive. It's an amazing resource where I can keep all of the information that I could ever need about my practice and my business.

It's an amazing place to go to keep information about work: where it's going, who has collected pieces, what galleries have work. Especially when I'm doing applications or sending out portfolios, having all of that in one place is extremely helpful and it makes me feel and look extremely professional. It's a real sense of pride that I can put together a portfolio to send to potential collectors or galleries and they are able to see the work in its best light.

Taylor Kibby

 

Ready to get started?

With a free 30-day trial of Artwork Archive, you can start your cataloging project with ease. 

Start tracking your artworks 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

Sign up for your free 30-day trial of Artwork Archive here