Art Inventory

Art Inventory

If you already have not made your way over to Local Artist Interviews to read my guest blog, then begin here.

I wrote a guest blog about how to become an organized artist! In the post, I wrote a basic month-to-month list on how an artist can easily work on becoming more organized throughout an entire year. For each month, I am writing a blog post on my blog site, The Suction Cup, to offer more guidance and tips on becoming more organized.

May begins working towards creating an inventory.

Often seen as a tedious project, having an inventory is one way to stay extremely organized. After following a review for a grant, I discovered that the focus for many professionals is on the creation of new work rather than the documentation and preservation of the work that already exists. However, I argue the opposite, the benefits of taking the time to care for and manage your current work are worth the time and effort. The more time and details you incorporate into your inventory the better tool and resource it is for you. Creating systems and organizational tools like an inventory do take time, but will actually save time down the road when you need to find a specific exhibition date or the name or contact information for a juror. I broke the inventory process into three larger steps which will be blogged about again in August and in November. Follow this months inventory project and you will be on track for your mission organization.

Begin by moving all of your art into one location. Exclude art that is already on the wall or hanging in your home, and art that is out of your studio space due to an art opportunity, such as an exhibition. This can be a project in itself if you are very unorganized. Moving all of your art in one place will make this inventory process smoother and a bit quicker than jumping locations or guessing on information or details about certain works.

Step 1: Photographing Your Work

One of the main components of an inventory is a photograph of the art work. By moving all of your art in one location, you can power through photographing all the work that you already haven’t documented. Each work needs a photo. While documenting your art work can be a whole other blog post, make sure you have good lighting, a solid background and take photos at the highest possible resolution.

Step 2: Creating an Inventory Form

The second component of your inventory is the documentation information. This is the tedious task but will be most helpful to you in the long run. An inventory can have a variety of information and should be tailored to your needs as an artist. For me, the more information the better. Begin by creating a document where you can easily plug in your information. Break down your document into sections such as: basic information, past exhibitions, press and notes. Each work gets its own separate page alongside its photo. Some works of art will be multiple pages after you stick in all its info and others will be a bit blank. Here is what I have for each of my sections on my inventory page:

Basic Information: The top if the page I have the title of the work in large bold letters and include the image of the work near the top right corner so I can see the images as I flip through my inventory binder. I include the date when the work was completed, medium and materials that I used. I continue to list other basic information about the piece including: size, price, whether or not the work is framed, if any touchups or repairs are needed, where the work is currently located. If there is a copyright registration number I include that as well. Another topic I wish to include is whether or not I agreed to any permissions, for example if a literary magazine has permission to print the image, or if I signed any contracts that allows or restricts the use of the image or work itself.

Exhibition Information: For the exhibition information section, I begin with the title of the show. I also list what type of exhibition it is: solo, partner, group show or other. I include the dates of the show and opening, and the venue name and address. Be sure to have the name of the curator, juror, or other related or important names and contact information. Feel free to include the exhibition or venue website address, and the commission percentage. I like to have a section listed exhibition documents. This is where I list what additional pieces of information and documents I have filed away that relate to the show including exhibition agreements, acceptance letters and emails.

Press Information: In this section I list any press and promotions that the work of art has received. This section may not be necessary for artists who haven’t had a significant amount of press, but I prefer to list the information in MLA citation format. I also list any promotional materials that relate to the work of art such as printed postcards, calendars, and other materials that promote and use my image.

Additional Information: There is an endless possibility of information you can include on your inventory. You want to make sure that it is detailed enough to provide proper documentation about the piece, but not so much that its overwhelming and scary to refer to or update. Possible other information you can include on your inventory includes viewer comments, installation notes, artist statements specific to that piece, or opportunities that you submitted the work to but wasn’t accepted. Don’t forget to list if the piece has been purchased. Include the purchasers contact information and what the work sold for.

After you have created the basic inventory form, fill out a blank form for each work of art. Include all of the information, notes, and details for each work of art and don’t forget to include the photograph of the piece. Once you create a large body of work, trying to remember the dates and titles for all of your art can get a bit fizzy, so it it helpful to have the image to refer to.

Step 3: Creating Digital and Hard Copies

Always have a digital file  of your inventory backed up on a external hard drive and two hard copies printed off. One copy can be in your studio, to use and refer to while you are working. Its also very important that you have the other copy in a separate location so if an emergency happens and you need to have proof of your work, you will have a complete and updated inventory to assist you.

The key to inventory is taking it in small bites. If it helps to tackle this project in steps, consider working on certain series of works or in specific medias if you are have a variety of focuses. Need help taking that next step? Below is a short goal list to get working on tacking your inventory.

The goals for this month are:

1. Move all of your work that you are going to inventory into one space

2. Photograph all works that need documentation

3. Create a basic WordDoc inventory form with all of the information you wish to capture for each work of art. Organize the form by sections such as basic information, past exhibitions and more.

4. Fill out a blank form for every work of art and be sure to include the photo of the work.

5. Have a digital file and two hard copies printed off and organized in a three ring binder.

6. Stick a date on your calendar every six months to one year to take the time to update your inventory with your new art.

7. Reward yourself for all of your hard work!


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