Professional Artists Need Art Inventory Management

[Editor’s Note: This week’s post is penned by Katie Carey of Artwork Archive. I firmly believe in the value of using an art inventory management system. As such, I’m happy to publish this informative post without remuneration.]

Without a reliable system to manage your inventory, you unnecessarily complicate your art career. As an artist, you know how important it is to use the right tool for the job. You can’t start a painting with frayed and ratty brushes and expect great results. Similarly, you can’t hope to run the business aspects of your art career smoothly without the right tools in place.

Having the right system in place to run your business efficiently is just as important as the tools you choose to create your artwork.

And, when it comes to organizing your work and career, there is a lot to keep in mind … that’s where art inventory software becomes crucial.

You need a simple, yet robust, and streamlined yet detailed, system to track your inventory and sales.

The right art inventory system simplifies all the necessary information for your art practice. You will track contacts and sales, exhibition history, gallery information and can quickly generate custom inventory reports, gallery labels, invoices and stay on top of deadlines.

The best systems help you keep track of where your artwork is, who has it, what it sold for, and start to make more informed decisions about the direction of your studio. It also is a major time saver which gives more time in the studio doing what you love.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



We talked with six artists about why they are using an art inventory system. Here is what they had to say. 

It Benefits Your Buyers

It is incredibly challenging to remember the details of all your artworks—especially as your career grows over time. But, customers want to know what makes the piece they are buying unique. If you can’t remember, it gives the impression the artwork didn’t mean much to you.

Foster that connection between you, your art, and your collector by recording the story of your artwork.

“People who buy my work want to know about the story behind the work,” said artist Lori Putnam. “They are curious about the what, where, and why of my paintings. Having an inventory system allows me to record the details and origin story of each piece I create.”

Clients care not just about the aesthetics of what you create, but the history and the details of your artwork. Being able to give them the story about if it was painted in a field behind your childhood home or that you chose to paint hidden chrysalises in the background to represent your regrowth helps viewers make strong connections to your work.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



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Efficient Systems Make the “Making” Part Less Stressful & More Fun

“As my art business has grown, it’s been increasingly difficult to keep track of everything,” artist Jane Hunt emphasized. “I’ve also entered a painting into a show when it was unavailable in a gallery. It was very stressful not knowing where everything was.”

Once you start selling your work a lot and exhibiting your work frequently, it becomes almost impossible to keep track of everything on your own. The more organized you are, the less stress you have creeping into other aspects of your life.

Having a system that will remember exactly where your pieces are and when they need to be shipped to the next place, or when to follow up on an invoice payment, takes the mental load off of you so you can focus on making artwork.

An Inventory Management System Simplifies How You Manage Your Career

 Like many artists,  Brienne Brown used to keep her inventory in an Excel file. But, she soon found that incredibly limiting and said that switching over to a custom-tailored program specifically designed for today’s working artists has made a huge difference in her career.

“Having an art inventory system has made my life so much easier. I love being able to sort and search for artworks quickly,” said the watercolor artist

“When you start creating at a significant level, you need a way to organize everything easily—you need a way to know what pieces you have created, where it is and how long it will be there. Before I found Artwork Archive, I struggled with keeping track of shows.”

Now, Brienne can see a full history of each show she has entered and been accepted into, the dates she needs to submit her work and which pieces she applied with. She can also get a sense of the show history of each piece—what shows it has traveled to, what awards it has won and where it will go next.

On top of that, she loves that you can print out gallery labels for the shows. With just a click of a button, you can export all of your information to a beautifully formatted label sheet, and you are ready to ship off your work.

Brienne laughed when she discovered the wall labels feature, “Are you kidding me, that was so easy. “

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Managing Your Data and Inventory Increases the Value of Your Work

According to fine art appraiser Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, “Solid and documentable provenance increases the value and desirability of artwork.” Christine also notes that “Failure to keep careful records of this pertinent information can cause a work to be undervalued, remain unsold or lost without the promise of recovery.”

Eminent curator and Executive Director of the Irvine Museum, Jean Stern stressed that at the very least artists should record an artwork’s date, title, and the location where it was created, and any personal thoughts they have about the piece.

Jean also noted that more information on artwork and its artist could help the piece’s artistic and monetary appreciation.

Use Your Management System to Get Useful Insights and Make Your Scheduling Easy

With so many deadlines, orders, and shipments, keeping track of deadlines is one of the most dreaded aspects of being a professional artist. But, you don’t need a personal assistant to make sure you are on track.

Art inventory software like Artwork Archive stores all of your competition and exhibition information. It includes the dates required for show entry and drop off dates, so you know exactly when the entry needs to be made, how much the fee is, when the work needs to be dropped off when the exhibition is, and when you need to pick up the work.

“It’s really nice having that all in one place,” said artist Heather Arenas.

Another bonus? All that sales information goes into easy-to-read graphs to help you make better-informed business choices.

“I’m a goal setter, and that graph has been critical in helping me not only set my goal but to track how I’m doing versus that goal later,” Heather said. “I need to know how much I have to paint and how much I have to sell each month to make a living and to be successful.”

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Cut Down on Administration Time

When you decided to become an artist, it was probably not because you wanted to be a business owner. You wanted to paint, to sculpt, to create something with your hands and share that with the world.

Then reality struck, and you realized you had to pay attention to the business aspects of being an artist for your career to grow. However, having an art inventory system is like having a personal administrative assistant to keep track of all the details of your artwork.

“I am a painter, not an administrator,” exclaimed Canadian artist Terrill Welch.  “Anything that successfully keeps my brushes in my hand and still allows me to run my business is essential. A finely-tuned, practical, reliable, easy-to-use inventory, show, and sales record system is necessary.”

Gain Convenience and Peace of Mind

Art inventory systems save you time, add comfort, and bring peace of mind to the chaos of a hectic art career. You are spending a lot of time in the studio, don’t spend unnecessary time in the office as well.

The most important thing for a lot of artists is that they only have to enter their information once and then they can move on. Just from that one entry they can print out reports for galleries, submit portfolios, share their work with potential clients, get sales insights, and generate invoices.

And, the information is never lost. So, if your device fails or you only have your phone with you—all your information is still accessible to you.

It’s important for any artist, at any point in their career, to be recording this information. It’s a critical tool for any professional artist that is serious about their career.

Not to mention, being organized gives a professional impression to galleries and other potential buyers.

… So, Why Do We Love It?

At Artwork Archive we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best inventory and career management platform for professional artists. As a team of artists, designers, writers, and developers, we all love coming together to think about solutions for artists to improve their businesses

We are especially excited about making a product that is incredibly robust and available from anywhere, on any device, at any time. And, the fact that we have put in place some of the highest levels of security and data safety measures, we are trusted by artists and collectors from all over the world who rest easy knowing that a hard-drive crash won’t get in the way of their life’s work.

Aside from the big stuff like tracking and sales, we also love that we can simplify all the little things you need to stay on top of as an artist like invoicing, consignment reports, contact management, and gallery labels.

There are, of course, different ways to go about organizing your work and your business. We, perhaps unsurprisingly, are partial to Artwork Archive. But no matter how you track your inventory, the important part is that you are doing it!

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