Tag Archive - art

How To Inventory Your Art Work

Drawings in a Classroom

Inventorying their work is something that many artists do not know how to do well. Partly because we tend to just shy away from anything that requires time away from our studios. And also because I don’t think it’s really taught anywhere. However, inventorying art work makes life a lot easier when consigning and selling work. And also when trying to remember what a piece of artwork is.

After a few different attempts to inventory my work (I tried just the name, I tried just a number) a fellow artist suggested the following.

2 digits for the year, and 2 digits for the number it is painted that year

So for example, the first painting I paint in 2013 will be labeled 13-01, the second painting is labeled as 13-02. For 2014 the first painting will be 14-01. I mark the back of my artwork in pencil, with this number. Obviously, for some types of art that might not work.

I put all of my paintings into a spreadsheet, organized by theme of paintings. I include the following columns:

1) Name of Painting
2) Short Description
3) Size of artwork
4) Medium
5) Year created
6) Number (i.e. 13-01)
7) Price
8) Location (ex studio, gallery, or name of owner when sold)

I also keep my sold paintings and gifted paintings on a separate spreadsheet. So that I don’t have available paintings and sold paintings on the same page. But this is something that isn’t necessary in the beginning.

Do you inventory your art? If so, what is the best method you have discovered for that?



5 Easy, Low Cost and Free Ways To Promote An Art Show

Zen Drawing Figure
If you have an art show coming up, and are looking for low cost ways to promote it, here are a few ideas.

1) Send a press release to your local art and lifestyle editor at your local newspaper. Do your homework, and get their name so you send it directly to them. If you spend the time to write a good press release, that makes their job easy (as in cut and paste your release info into their column) you have a good chance of getting picked up.

2) Create a postcard and promote your show to your existing mailing list.And/Or use an email, and promote to your existing email list.

3) Create a postcard, and use it to post on local billboards where people you think might connect with your work are. This could include the local coffee shop and grocery message boards. There might also be local shops that have an area for you to place your post cards as well. (Just make sure to ask for permission before dropping off cards at a store.)

4) Use social media! Post your upcoming show on Facebook and Twitter. Include a picture of your art, so that it grabs people’s attention. Ask your friends to share and like your announcement to get additional screen time. Use the calendar event option to invite people as well.

5) Look at local magazines in your area. Are there any who talk about art shows? If so, find out the name of the editor, and send them your press release as well.


Studio Rules


Years ago, a friend of mine mentioned that her family, who are all artists, have family studio rules. I thought this was a good idea to implement for myself and I’m sharing in case you find them helpful as well.

Here are my basic rules. Let me know what additional rules you may have below.

1. No work is started without a signed contract. Even if they are a friend, and I know them well.

2. 50% deposit is required at beginning of work, even if they are a friend and I know them. (Yes even good friends can be flakey.)

3. Contract states exactly what is expected for the piece, and any big changes create a change order (and additional money).

4. Anyone who wastes my time with phantom shows/events that fall through at the last minute does not get a second chance.

5. All work left anywhere has at minimum a consignment sheet, with agreed to price, inventory number if applicable, and sales fees stated, signed by the owner before the artwork is left.

6. Collect sales tax on all in-state purchases. Because not collecting tax equates to giving someone an additional 9% discount, as I then have to pay the sales tax myself. (Some artists simply factor this into their pricing. I however find it a little messy to try and back out the tax after a sale, and prefer to simply add that onto the sale at the end.)

I have found that besides saving me a lot of headaches and frustration, having studio rules is an easy way to make things less personal. By that I mean, if you tell someone No, they can get upset. But when you let them No, you have a set of basic business rules, that apply to all clients, there is less chance for a client or potential client to take this personally.

What are some of your studio rules? I’d love to hear from you below. Thanks!


Why Do Statistics On Your Art?

Michael J Fox quote “Do the next right thing, as opposed to doing the next thing right.”  When we track what we are doing, what results we are getting, we can get better and better at tracking what is working and what is not.  For example, this past year I added up where the money from sales came from.  It turns out very little of it came from traditional routes such as gallery and art fair sales.  Instead, more than half of my income came from online sales. This doesn’t mean I’ve completely ditched the idea of doing shows, but it does mean I’m making sure most of my activities this year are online based rather than show based.

If I didn’t have statistics and monthly and yearly analysis – I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what the next “right thing” for me is.  Instead I would be spending time, money and resources on doing things that aren’t garnering a good ROI (return on investment) for me – but doing them spectacularly well.  For example, for me, given the very niche nature of my art, most art fairs are not a good fit. There are some that are, but if I’m at the wrong show for my art, even if I have the best tent, the best location, the best spread of products – it doesn’t matter if this isn’t where I’m target market shops.

So I try to make it easier on myself.  I figure out where the majority of my sales, leads, and activity comes from.  And I focus on those.  This is the only way I can tell what the “next right” thing for me will be.

What type of statistics do you find most helpful?

For more about keep statistics, see Keeping Track of the Wrong Statistic



Selling Art: It’s Like Building A Snowman

Remember when you were a kid and you would start to make a snowman? You’d start with a small snowball, keep rolling it, and rolling it, and rolling it. And then suddenly the mass had gotten big enough it would start to really pick up snow on it’s own? That’s what selling art and making an impression on the art world can be like.

You start off your list, with just maybe 25 or 30 friends and family. Then you do your first show and add maybe 5 more people who really like your work. But the, after a few more shows and a lot more work, “suddenly” you have 300 or 400 people on your list – who really, truly want to hear from you. And are excited about your art. It’s baby steps that eventually get you to the next milestone you have set for yourself.

Baby steps, that suddenly seem to make you see the gradual tiny little wins you have been having along the way. But may have been too deep in the muck of it to realize.

So next time you get a little worn down, or frustrated by all the seemingly small progress you are making. Don’t give up. Celebrate the seemingly small progress, that probably even to you, a few years ago, would have seemed unreachable. And keep going.

Because as long as you are taking small, manageable, intentional steps towards your goals, you are building a really great snowman, even if you can’t see it just yet.

For another way to look at it, se An Art Show is Never Just About The Show



Keeping Track Of The Wrong Statistics For Your Art Business:

Years ago I went to a Blair Singer Sales & Leadership Conference. What I learned there, I actually now use on a daily basis, but there was one thing I got really wrong.  Blair is all about statistic – tracking what you do, so that you can adjust course, and also just keep track of progress.  Well, for years I tracked hours worked. How many hours I worked on marketing. How many hours I spent prepping for a show.  How many hours I spent painting.

While knowing how many hours it takes to paint a painting, or prepare for a show is important for work planning purposing, using hours worked as a key statistic isn’t actually helpful.  All it does is give you something to tell people who think that since you work from home, or since you are an artist you don’t really “work.”  So you can say “hey, I worked 60 hours last week on art!” In a sense, this is a “Vanity Stat” – a statistic that is created so one’s ego can give a “correct” answer.  And not a stat that is actually helpful to one’s business.  And is, in essence, a complete waste of time to be tracking.

Every year, I keep statistics, and at least once a year I reevaluate what I am tracking and decide if it is worth continuing to track, or if there is something else, more tangible/ actionable, or just plan more relevant to my business that I could be tracking instead.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to not just evaluate once a year.  For example, at the beginning of the year I got involved with the Link Love movement.  For me, I was spending hours and hours a week doing Link Love, and while I did meet some really nice people, I did not get a single sale out of it.  I did however, meet some people who ended up doing some work for me (SEO and Graphic Design) so for them, doing something like Link Love really worked – because just about everyone in the group was in need of what they were selling.  Therefore, I’m not dissing Link Love – I’m just saying that because I was keeping track of my effort, and the results (which were no sales, although people did start reading my blog) I decided after a few months to completely remove myself from the Link Love lists so that I would not participate actively or otherwise. And if I had’t been keeping track of results, this might have been going on all year before I realized this wasn’t where I wanted to be placing my energy.

Peter Drucker (a business genius) said “What’s measured improves.”

Here’s a few things that might be helpful to you to track for this coming year.  But again, if they aren’t impactfull to you, or they don’t help you adjust and expand/grow your business, try some new ones.  Or better yet, suggest a few below.

  • Sales – how many and where they are coming from
  • Number of people in email list, and how often they are corresponded with and results of each campaign
  • Number of people who received hard copy mail/ promotional material (and results)
  • On Etsy I actually track which day of the week sales have occurred, as well as promotional things I do on Etsy (like treasuries, re-listing and advertising) to see if there is also a correlation to sales for a particular action.  For example, while I do find relisting helpful in getting people’s attention and being added to their favorites I realized that when I paid to be in the Etsy Showcases it was more effective from a sales perspective.
  • Number of locations that showcase my art and the sales/ leads results

What are some of your favorite statistics to track for your art/ business?  How has this helped you move forward with your goals?

For more about keeping statistics see Why Do Statistics On Your Art?