Artwork Archive is a database program especially made for artists, collectors and galleries. Because it is made for artists it is different from the usual database programs and really quite useful!
In this article (and video!) I would like to show you how it works.
I signed up to Artwork Archive in 2014 after my old database program was no longer supported (Bento). I was pretty annoyed my old program was no longer useable, because it was free, handy and easy to use. So I started looking around for a replacement program. I did not want to be without a database because it had proven incredibly useful!
A Database is a Good Idea
You might wonder why on earth you need an artwork database. But have you ever asked yourself any of these questions:
- Who did I sell that painting to 5 years ago?
- When did I start using linen instead of cotton as a support?
- Did I varnish that painting or not?
- Have I ever submitted to that open exhibition before?
- How many paintings do I create per year?
- How much did I pay for that frame?
- What is the size or price of that painting again?
- Will these works look good together in a show?
- What did I submit to that competition last year?
The answers to all those questions can be found in a database. It really pays off to keep one up to date. So whenever I finish a painting, frame it, varnish, exhibit or sell it, I update my database.
If you paint seriously, I would really recommend keeping a database!
Why Artwork Archive?
You can build a database with lots of different tools. You can write it all in a notebook. You can use a digital notebook (I did try using Evernote for it, for a while), you can buy yourself a database program (most are pretty pricey) or you can look into artists’ databases. I have looked at many, tried some and settled on Artwork Archive.
Reluctantly, I must add. Coming from a free program I was on the hunt for a pay-once-and-download-a-program type of thing. I was willing to pay for it but Artwork Archive has a subscription fee and it isn’t cheap. But, at the end of the day I never did find a program as good, as intuitive, as easy to use and I decided to go for it.
The makers of the program, John and Justin, are really listening to artists; and I mean really. They ask; they listen; they implement features; they clear up inconsistencies and they make it better. I love that. They are always there to answer questions. No automated rubbish in your inbox, but a real person giving a real answer whenever it is day time on their side of the pond. This is clearly a business with a heart.
Still, I only signed up for the lowest tier subscription at first. Over the past 4 years I appreciated the program more and more and upgraded.
Upload instead of Download
Artwork Archive will store your data on their servers and back it all up for you regularly. So you do not have to download a program. Instead you upload your stuff to them! So if your computer crashes, your database is safe. You can add an extra level of security by downloading your whole database as a csv/xls file now and then. The major positive of this cloud system is that your database is accessible from anywhere. You can check it on the go, on your mobile, on someone else’s computer, in a café. Handy.
Are they Paying me to Say This?
Now I must be sounding like a big fat advertisement. Sorry about that. Yes, I have become one of their affiliates. That means that they will pay me a small commission if you sign up via my own personal link. This does not cost you anything extra at all. In fact if you use my personal link you will get 20% off your first subscription year fee.
But, seriously, I would never talk about this if I didn’t think you, as artists, would find this program useful too. So I am only trying to share what works for me because I hope it can be useful for you. And I would never be an affiliate if I didn’t think there was a great product to tell you about.
How does Artwork Archive Work?
So if you are intrigued but don’t know where to start, how it works and why it’s so good, watch the video I made for you. In the video I explain how Artwork Archive works. How to add artworks to the database and how to use the database to find the info you need.
Watch the video below, or read on if you prefer.
How does Artwork Archive Work?
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial and then choose from three different membership levels. Which level you choose depends on how many artworks you need to put into your database.
The lowest level will allow you 50 artworks in 5 locations (a ‘location’ is a gallery where your work is at, for example). The Professional level gives you 500 artworks in 50 locations and the Master plan gives you unlimited everything.
The amount of data you want to put into your database is the main criterium for choosing your plan. Prices range from $6, to $12 and finally $19 per month (if paid annually).
Here is a screen shot of the current packages on offer:
Ok, so once we got the boring signing-up stuff out of the way you can set up your profile. If you are just using the program as a database you can just fill in your preferred currency, size and weight units (so that any prices are listed in the correct currency etc).
If you want, you can make use of the Public Profile Page that Artwork Archive offers. All you have to do is tick the box in ‘public settings’. You will then be given a public page, hosted by Artwork Archive, on which you can showcase your artworks. You can choose for each artwork whether to include it on your public page and which information to make public with it. It works as a little website for your artwork.
See also my blog post on Artwork Archive’s Portfolio feature - where I explain how to use the public page feature.
Adding Artworks to the Database
Adding artworks to the database is easy. When you click the ‘Artwork’ tab in the left menu you can click the plus symbol (also in the top right corner) to add a new piece. You then add images, and fill in all the fields you need and voilà; your first piece is added to the database.
All the fields you can fill in will become categories to use in order to filter, search and use the database. So if you fill in ‘Portrait’ in the ‘Subject Matter’ field, you can later filter your database for all works that have ‘Portrait’ as their subject matter. And any word you fill in under ‘Medium’ will become a category to filter the database later. So, for example, in my ‘Medium’ field I have pastel, graphite, oil on linen, oil on canvas, oil on copper etc.
For each artwork there is a field called ‘Collections’. These are really handy as you can add artworks to a group. For example I create a collection for each year. Every work I paint this year will get the collection ‘2019’ added. I can then filter my whole database by the collection ‘2019’ and see which works were painted this year. I now have a collection for each past year.
You can create collections of artworks that belong in a series, were in an exhibition together, share a client, etc etc. Each piece can belong to numerous collections.
Every artwork you add will automatically be added to ‘your inventory’. This means it is in your studio. If some of your works are at a gallery, you can create a ‘Location’. You can fill in the details of the location and ‘assign’ pieces to it. With the assigned artworks you can now see a ‘Location History’ with dates of when it got there, when it goes back to the studio etc. If a piece has been to multiple shows and multiple galleries it will show multiple entries under its ‘Location History’.
If you click the ‘Locations’ tab in the left menu you will see a list of all the locations (galleries) you have added and if you click a location, you will see which artworks they currently hold, which works they sold etc. You can also create a consignment report for each gallery.
If you sell a painting you can ‘register a sale’ for it in your database. Fill in the sale price, your net price, the sale location (gallery or studio), the client’s details and any other details. You can see all your sales in the tab ‘Income’.
You can keep a contact list with Artwork Archive that is quite handy. For each sale you can fill in contact details and when you click a contact you can see which artworks this contact bought, when and for how much.
When you have an exhibition coming up or you submit work to a competition or open exhibition you can create an ‘Exhibition’. You will be asked to fill in the details such as the location, submission fees, website and the submission dates, exhibition dates etc. You can then assign pieces to the show which will be automatically marked as ‘submitted’. When you get the results of your submission you can change it to ‘rejected’ or ‘accepted’ and even ‘won an award’ (optimistic bunch at Artwork Archive!).
Within the artwork details you will now see a ‘Exhibition History’ and the status, dates etc. For me it is really handy to see an artwork has been submitted to an open exhibition and whether it got selected and or not. Some pieces have numerous entries as I submitted it to more than one open exhibition.
The dates you fill in with the show details, such as submission dates and exhibition dates are automatically added to your Schedule. Your schedule is your diary of upcoming events. You can tick the box to get weekly reminders so you won’t forget a submission date ever again.
Reports will show you where all your works are in the world, what its value is and lots of other useful info. This is also where you can create inventory reports, portfolio pages, invoices and so much more. There are sample pages for you to look at once you have signed up to Artwork Archive.
Artwork Archive offers more than what I have described above. You can also add editions and runs if you work with prints for example. You can create invoices and reports, labels and portfolio pages. You can even run your own website with them, all included in the price. But the core functionality is the database and Artwork Archive is very good at that.
A Visual Database
This overview is intended to give you a quick and easy introduction in how to use the program. The screen shots will hopefully give you some idea of what it looks like.
I love the fact that it is so visual: you can see in one go which works you have in stock. You don’t have to scan through a load of text or spreadsheets; you can see it in one go. Artists are visual people: we like ‘seeing’ how things work and Artwork Archive really picked this up.
If you have any questions about the program, do ask either me or the guys at Artwork Archive. I am sure I have asked them a million questions by now and they have always answered patiently and helpfully.
And again, if you want to go for it, then you might want to get your 20% off by using this link:
This way you are supporting my blog at the same time as getting a great deal!
This article and the video was rewritten and updated in December 2019