Lori Putnam in her studio
Lori Putnam is a widely recognized, award-winning Plein Air painter.
Though, if you ask her about where she considers herself in her career, she will humbly respond, “It’s hard for me to be objective about where I am in my career. Everyone else seems to have an opinion about it, but if I get too caught up in all of that, it zaps my energy. I’d rather just paint.”
Putnam can be found painting at times outdoors and, at times, in her studio indoors. Wherever she is, though, she is chasing natural light that she captures in golden hues on grass fields, mountainsides, and the subtle glimmer in a loose brushstroke on the surface of a pond.
It’s just waking up to the morning light that excites her about painting— and it translates into her paintings.
“It’s really never about a particular subject that I want to paint; it is about light quality in a scene, exploring color vibration, finding rhythms.”
We got a chance to talk with Lori Putnam about not only her artwork but her experience with mentorship programs and why she switched to organizing her art career with Artwork Archive.
You have an extensive mentorship program for artists. Why do you think mentorship is important for artists?
I see artists who seek instruction as generally falling into one of two camps: there are those who take every workshop they possibly can and those who desire a more concentrated focus.
Many of us likely started out in the first camp and later pitched a tent in the second. Taking workshops is great. There are definite benefits from learning in a group setting as well as from hearing more than one person’s theory. Somewhere along the way, however, I see artists just become confused because they never take the time to fully absorb one workshop and filter it through their own minds before embarking on the next one.
My advice is that if you really love workshops and the camaraderie of them, give yourself only a couple of really great ones every year with plenty of time in between. Eventually, when you find yourself ready for long-term, directed learning and a real, artistic-growth relationship, seek a mentor.
Your priority should always be to work with someone whose work and philosophy you greatly admire, without regard for fame or career.
If you are also looking for career and business advice as well, consider that second.
Fall at Logan Pass by Lori Putnam, 24x32 oil on linen
If you only had the chance to give advice to young or emerging artists in a few sentences and not a few weeks, what you tell them?
It takes a lot of hard work to get “there”. Be ready for even more work when you finally do get “there”; there is no “there”.
What was the moment that you realized you needed an inventory system?
If I have one gift, it is organization. I thrive on it and also use it as an excuse sometimes. So from the very beginning, way before I began to paint full time, I kept records of my work.
What were you using before Artwork Archive?
For years I used FileMaker Pro. I had used it to manage copy when I was a graphic designer, so I was already familiar with it. There really wasn’t anything else out there at that time that kept everything in one place (images and data).
What made you finally make the switch?
It’s incredibly expensive to maintain license agreements for the program I was using. I have an assistant on the West Coast who also needs to access my database, so I was actually paying for two licenses. Also, due to size limitations, I had to build a new database for every year in order to upload and store the content on the cloud. With each year being in a different file, I could not access all of my information from anywhere at any time.
It was incredibly time-consuming to get information on a piece unless I remembered for certain in which year it was painted. Still, switching was a hard sell for me because I am so incredibly picky. The people at Artwork Archive listened to my concerns and addressed each one. It took two years for me to make the decision. You guys are pretty patient.
What has the process been like getting set up?
Because I wanted everything to be a clean as possible, I did a lot of testing and playing around with Artwork Archive before I uploaded data. That’s the beauty of a free trial!
Getting familiar with how it worked and how my records would translate made the set up really easy. And again, they were always there to answer questions and hold my hand.
Putnam painting in Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
What benefits have you seen since using Artwork Archive? What are some reasons you love it?
For me, there is something very satisfying about knowing where everything has ever been exhibited, where it sold, and who owns it. Having all of that information for each piece is critical for the provenance of the work, and my collectors appreciate that I can provide them with a complete Certificate of Authenticity.
There are a number of reasons why I love Artwork Archive. First, it is always up-to-date and available, no matter where I am—that one is priceless to me. And, because there is no size limit to my database, I can find a piece no matter when it was created.
Finally, I love having my buyers’ information right in the piece sale details and so easy to access. I can look up the title of a painting someone bought on the fly. This saves me a lot of embarrassment and gives me talking points when I spot one of my collectors at an opening.
How has your inventory process and business management changed since using Artwork Archive?
Mostly it has helped keep both my assistant and me in sync and on top of things. There are lots of tasks that have to be done when a work is ready for the market. Fewer of those tasks fall through the cracks.
Why do you think art inventory management is beneficial to artists like you?
I get phone calls and emails all day long from someone needing a piece for an upcoming exhibit or wanting to make a purchase. If someone is interested in my art for any reason, I want to quickly be able to locate exactly where that piece is, know if and where they can purchase (or exhibit) it, and not keep them waiting.
My assistant or I can even filter by subject matter, location, or collection and offer other options that may fit their needs as well. It saves a lot of time (of which I have little extra) and helps us look professional.
Would you recommend Artwork Archive to other artists?
Absolutely … and I do! It’s never too early to start keeping track of every piece.