Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where is Your Art? Do you know?

Greige Sonia Semone

I recently got an email from an artist I know that I thought was a great topic for artists.  Here is the email I received. 

Thank you so much for the plug! I'm always checking your site and think it's probably one of the best in Texas for art events and info. Hey, I think you should do a small story on keeping tabs on your artwork. I just recently contacted a gallery that had a piece of mine in Washington DC. They got it a few years back. I had contacted them last year about it and they said they'd just hang on to it unless I really wanted it back. Wanting the publicity, I quickly capitulated. Now two years after it's departure, they say they do not have it, and all the proof that I sent it to them is on my side, no letters of receipt or proof that they did keep it. So now I'm one less painting (that had quite a bit of meaning to me.) I just want this to serve as a warning to get proof from those that keep your art. Not just a letter, but an inventoried list of art, along with prices and a signature and date of receipt, or an emailed list, asking for a response as receipt. It may just insure you from a lost painting....Just sayin.

(This is from Kerian Massey at www.keriansart.com )

Where is your artwork? 

Many working artists have art in a variety of galleries, even coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants, and other businesses.  If you are like me, you may things in a variety of the places above.  While that is a good thing, you need to keep track of your work.  Start out by making a list of work, and where it is.  While this sounds elementary-- you would be surprised how many people just keep a total in their head.  I have been guilty of this as well.  I know where my work is, but the more places it spreads out, the harder it is to keep tabs on.  Next make sure that when you send work to places that you have a contract that is signed that states the pieces the gallery or shop will have.  Having a contract is the best way to protect yourself and your inventory.

Has this happened to you?  How do you keep a track of your artwork?


Some Input
David Leonard February 8 at 2:35pm
I just print an inventory list of all my canvases I own. listing the title, size, date, & retail price leaving a blank line to the right of this info. Then in pencil I write in it's current location. I deal with 6 galleries and i find this is a simple way of keeping track. It's also important when you first start to deal with a new gallery to know and be clear about who is responsible for the cost of return shipping. Best, David


  1. It may be overkill........but since I have the MSOffice software, I use MSAcess database for my art work inventory. I could do more on it than I do but mostly I have a field for every conceivable thing about the work and I enter it if and when I know it. Many/most times I don't know where a sold work went, but I try to get a gallery to let me know if it's a public or corporate purchase. I wish TX had to tell their artists like they do in some states when they sell WHO it went to.
    When I take or send work out, a consignment agreement for signature goes with it. I get it signed and dated and take it back to file.

  2. To borrow a line from the book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, "I push my babies into the world through the birth canal of my creativity". I really feel that way about my art sometimes. In rare cases I'm happy to get rid of them like their bratty step children but most of the time it hurts. It crosses my mind, from time to time, that I will never see most of them ever again. I'm going to make that list now.


    Clint Scism

  3. I have an easy way to keep track, using the WorkingArtist database. The database lets me inventory every painting and keep track of all consignments, invoices etc. I have a photo of each artwork displayed in the database so that when I deliver or send artwork to a gallery or other venue, I send or bring my consignment form (photos beside each entry)which is signed and returned to me. Since this program was specifically designed for artists, it make my life a lot easier.

  4. I always bring an inventory sheet to any place that will display my art. I require a signature and other contact information while making the delivery. Unfortunately, the inventory list will not make much difference if the person receiving your are is not honest.

  5. I've created a database using FileMakerPro for all of my artwork. I've been tracking for over 10 years. Before that it was a mishmash of methods.
    Everything is in the database and it is no problem to print out an inventory sheet when I am taking work out for sale or exhibition. The database makes everything easy and keeps it all in one place. Like Helen, I have a photo as well, for easy identification.

    I've learned the hard way that I must keep good records. I've left work on consignment with the inventory sheet, and with labels on the artwork that reference the inventory sheet (name and number) and the sales receipt will have no reference to it. "Item sold: sculpture". It is annoying trying to backtrack to see what sold.

    I always ask when leaving work if there is a consignment form they would prefer I use, If so, I create a template in my database to fill in the blanks and then print two copies, one for them to sign, and one for my files.

    Keeping the database current is sometimes a challenge, but essential for me.

  6. wow good idea!
    I lost a painting because an art group fell apart and I moved, then my painting went threw too many hands for me to follow after.

    I usually keep accurate information about were and how long a painting is going to be at a place just in case now. Its nice to trust someone, but its too bad to have life take that away. Mainly the best way to not loose something is get money befor letting your hands off art, or have it in a limited timed exhibit.