You’ve probably heard of the disorganized artist stereotype. The western world has been told about eccentric, chaotic, and occasionally starving artists (who are too busy painting and eating eggs that had been boiled in a glue pot to collect the money they’re owed) since Giorgio Vasari wrote the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects in the sixteenth century.
You don’t need to embrace this stereotype to be a great artist. In fact, getting and staying organized is one of the best ways to make more studio time for yourself. The most basic step is to put together a simple database will help you keep track of what you’ve made, where it is, whether it has sold, to whom, and at what price. If you want to go a little bit further and track your career progress, start noting down where you’ve exhibited or submitted your work. Track who buys your work to help you keep in touch with your best customers. Track who is interested in your work so that you can make future recommendations to your customers.
If you’re interested in starting an artist’s database, you can download my free template here and give it a try. You are going to save so much time and have so much fun (said the woman who asked for a label maker for Christmas when she was 16)!
Here are my tips for creating and using an artist’s database:
- You don’t need to pay for an online database program with a million features. You really don’t. A simple spreadsheet like the one I’ve made for you will stand the test of time and be easily sharable. Plus, you’ll have more control over your own data.
- Give each piece a catalogue or inventory number. If it makes sense for you, I recommend using the number/file name that is automatically generated by your camera when you take a picture of the work in question. That way you don’t need to change the file names of your photos.
- Keep track of where you store the photos of each piece on your computer. Make sure that your database has a place where you can note file names and folder pathways (e.g. File Name: DSL00001, Folder Names: Documents>Acrylics>Landscapes).
- Add columns that will capture information that’s important to you.