9/6/15

How do you Inventory your Artwork?



Whenever I here the word inventory, I nearly get ill to my stomach. The word takes me back several years to a time when I was willing to do most anything to save money for college. My sister had a contact for an automobile parts delivery clerk, and I filled the position. It was the pits, a play on the store's name Pitzer's, but really, it was not a great job for a petite gal in a man's world. The others often tested me, giving me inventory to move from one place to another that was 3 times too heavy for my size and ability. After a year of delivering parts, they moved me into the "Inventory Controller" position because the position was abandoned by the previous employee, and nobody wanted to do it. That should have been a clue to me right there that it was going to be a downhill slope. No one trained me, it was a job that I had to figure out myself with bits of information thrown at me from time to time. Besides being a creative, anything that had to do with numbers was not on my radar, and by the end of the year when the company had to take their yearly account of gaskets, bolts, batteries and spark plugs, the system was pretty messed up and therefore I was fired. But I digress.

Back to the present.

If you are a prolific artist producing for brick and mortar galleries, fairs, or sales venues online, you must take inventory of the what and where your work is. But how? You must first take into account your ability to commit as well as adapt, and I am a bit biased and old fashioned. Remember, I didn't have the best intro to inventory as a youngling.

There were a couple of systems that I have used in the past. I started out with a program called Working Artist. It was clunky and buggy, but I spent my hard earned money on it and that is what I stuck with. Then the programmer discontinued the update as computers were evolving, so it went belly up. Then I picked up Art Tracker and used it with success, but when I upgraded my computer, the system was not supported. As with the times, computers improve and new systems are introduced every day.  Just Google "artist inventory systems" and you will find a plethora of choices that are pretty much on a cloud base system.  But what if you are still trying to figure out what the heck this cloud is?

I just may be a bit old fashioned, stubborn, or biased, but I decided to track in a most old fashioned of ways.  I have resorted to creating a spiral bound book where I handwrite information of each piece into and then clip and tape each images with the info.  Yes, it's outdated, but I'm gonna give this a try before I plunge to the cloud and pay a yearly fee. This simple idea was shared with me in a workshop with pastelist Marla Baggetta back in 2011. It seems very archaic, but hey, I figure it won't be discontinued, bugged, or downgraded to a slower system. In the meantime, what do you use to track your artwork and what you like most about it? I'd love to know.

~ Brenda

6 comments:

Carole Buschmann said...

I llke your solution!! Simply because I can then right the price in there and not be concerned with some 3rd party pealing in. I also like that archaic feel!!

Brenda Boylan said...

Thanks for you "support" Carole! I like the old fashioned way, but will always encourage new and improved ways. Having said that, I would change only if it was a resounding recommendation.

Vanessa said...

I use microsoft excel, I simply have a spreadsheet with all my art info listed and I update it as necessary with info like framing, owners, location, exhibitions etc. It's simple and works well.

Brenda Boylan said...

Vanessa, that sure sounds simple too. I have tried to figure out Excel and my husband says he will teach me, but I haven't been able to "get it". Two cheers for you and your solution. Perhaps you could teach me
Excel? :)

Julie Ford Oliver said...

I am with you Brenda.
I started keeping a spiral recording of my illustration income and expenses (with receipts) back before the computer was an everyday item I could use, and I have continued to this day. Each book goes in with my taxes at the end of the year and a new one started. I was audited a few years ago and having it was perfect.
The best part was having the receipts stapled where it should be. The auditor LOVED it and told me receipts are important.
I had a computer crash and lose everything a few years ago, and what do you do if everything is on that?

Brenda Boylan said...

Julie, I sure would love to see just how your spiral book works, with the layout and format. The thought of being audited makes me sick and still need to figure out a way to get all things simple and efficient for tax time. Would you be willing to share? I keep all my receipts and have my accountant calculate them for me, saving me tons of time and frustration.