Do you ever scramble trying to figure out what price you had set for a particular piece or calling a gallery to pull your work because you didn’t realize you had already committed your art to another show during those dates?
Frustrating and confusing situations like these are common for artists who don’t put together a system before they get popular. It happens so quickly that before they know it, they actually can’t keep all the details in their head anymore.
So if you don’t have a system set up, whether your art has started to take off or not, you need to get together your very own inventory tracking system.
Here are a few good ways to track your inventory (ie your art):
The Good Old Spreadsheet
Seriously, if you are low volume, a spreadsheet can be just what you need. Simple, straightforward, endlessly customizable. I suggest you include the title, date, medium, dimensions, price, and current location of each piece. You will probably also want a place to write notes about each piece so you can keep track of upcoming exhibitions, publicity each piece has had, etc.
The Fancy Online Database
For a max of $99/year (lowest plan is FREE!), you can join Artwork Archive and keep your pieces organized and pretty. You can include images of your work, not just the price but also the profit, the subject matter, a description AND a notes section, an inventory number or SKU… just tons of specific details about each piece. Plus, there’s a one-click button to generate a pdf of the relevant information to hand to a collector or curator, or for your own quick reference. You can also organize pieces into “collections” so you could put a particular series all in one place. But the best part of Artwork Archive is that you can actually keep track of the locations (like galleries) and the collectors of your work so that you have your history with them at a glance.
The Convenient Desktop Software
There are two great options for this that I know of: Tessera (formerly Flick!) and GYST. Both are pretty robust (that’s a silly word we online business folks like to use for software that’s got pretty thorough functionality). Tessera is $249, a one time fee. GYST is $59 to keep track of your art or $129 to keep track of both your art and your entire business (contacts, proposals, sales records…), also a one time fee. Both have a trial version, so I suggest you give each a try so you can be sure to get the right software for you.
A Nice Notebook
If you’re really low-key (and have lovely penmanship), you can get away with a pen-and-paper solution. The only downside is keeping it organized as things change. I would recommend using a binder so that you can remove pages or move them around, which makes it much more editable. It’s harder to remember to keep up with a paper solution because it’s not at your fingertips wherever you are. Set a day of the week that you input new info into your notebook so you don’t lose track of the changes.