Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sample Simple Record Keeping

Sample simple...heh heh, couldn't resist!

Just a little while ago, my friends in http://barenforum.org were asking about record keeping for printmakers.
First you have to decide what sort of records you want to keep and make decisions on whether you want to keep everything integrated or just jot down information about each art work. You may want to consider keeping records on sales, gallery submissions and exhibits, works created, collector's demographics and, oh, so much more.

Here are some books to consider:

Indispensable! Constance Smith's Art Office, Second Edition: 80+ Business Forms, Charts, Sample Letters, Legal Documents & Business Plans (Art Office: 80+ Business Forms, Charts, Sample Letters, Legal)

Art Marketing 101 has pretty good info on what may be important down the road Art Marketing 101, Third Edition: A Handbook for the Fine Artist (Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist)

Quite a bit of information about what galleries expect from artists in "Starving" to Successful: The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art

Software

If you want to keep integrated records of artwork, collectors, submissions and exhibits (for example) you will need integrated software. There are various out-of-the-box choices on the web, all of them seem adequate enough, these are the ones I have looked at:

ArtWork Archive
http://www.artworkarchive.com/
Seems pretty cool with many features, great feature is online backups, drawback is "revolving" charge which I'm allergic to big time. But all in all a very complete package.

Working Artist
http://www.workingartist.com
I have not downloaded and tried this one but the features are there and the price is right. More features than the previous and really an affordable solution. Another advantage is they have been around for a while and upgrade as needed so you won't be stuck with an obsolete software (I have seen many others come and go).

Art Systems
http://www.artsystems.com/
If you can afford this dawg or if you manage a gallery or a group of artists, go for it. I don't think there is a feature that this doesn't have and I based my own database on their screenshots. I think about forking out this much money but I can always think of how much paper I could buy instead.
Still, all in all, a great software package now with cloud backup and all the bells and whistles.

But what about FREE?

Well, there's the do-it-yourself approach. At first any record keeping will do, but a spreadsheet is eternally malleable and can be exported to databases and practically any software. I started out with a simple spreadsheet based on what items I wanted to keep records for each of my prints. Here is a sample that may look familiar from Baren exchanges:

But I also want to know where my prints are located and other things, so here is a sample spreadsheet that I created in GoogleDocs based on that information:

As you can see, you may want to add to the print information where you physically keep the prints and any images you have online or stored locally. Any other tidbits of info about each work can be added as you need to by adding a new column.
A simple spreadsheet is a good start for any printmaker, they are easy to use and, as I mentioned, very flexible when upgrading to something better. Not that there would be a need to upgrade. If you get handy with spreadsheets, you can filter records (for example to view only woodcuts, or only woodcuts created in 2005, or whatever). You can also merge the records with a program like MS Word and create print info sheets like the one above.

But a spreadsheet has what's called a "flat" file system. For record keeping and integrating with other spreadsheets, exporting reports such as gallery entries and artist resumes...well you really need a database. Since you're probably sleepy by now (I know I am), next post will outline a simple database, features of a database and how to create one that tells you stuff you may want to know about your art records.

I have most of the books that come up in that search but I just saw a new one! I better get it, can't read enough about this stuff.