Let’s Get Organised!
updated December 2018
Useful Software for Artists
I like my gadgets and my apps. And so it goes without saying I love software for artists that works and makes my artist’s life easier. But even if you are not a techie person, many computer programs can make boring tasks more fun.
Perhaps some of you artists are looking for an software to make that boring task of organising, archiving, accounting or something else more bearable? With my list of useful programs I hope to give you some ideas that can help. And I invite you to share some of your tips on which apps you use for your art stuff. Would love to hear them!
Organising your Art
Note-taking. Love Evernote! I have been using this app for years. It is much easier and quicker than a word processor and so if you just want to jot things down and don’t need a fancy layout or design, Evernote is great. Great for draft blog posts, letters, website blurb, book drafts, thoughts, recipes or anything else you need to write down. The free version lets you install the app on two devices. I use the web version for my third device. There are paid plans for the serious users. For desktop and mobile devices. Best bits: free, quick and useful.
Database. It took me ages to find a decent art database after good-old Bento (for mac) stopped being supported. I tried various methods and programs and finally settled for Artwork Archive.
The great thing is that this is made for artists. And so everything you need is there. You can organise your paintings by various categories and labels, you can see within seconds which works are in the studio and which are ‘out’, what has sold and to whom and where. The program also conjures up portfolio pages, consignment sheets, client lists etc in PDF format to download. A web-based subscription. Best bits: made for artists (and galleries) and looks good.
(use this link to sign up and get 20% off as a new user)
Spreadsheets. Who likes doing the accounts? Pfff, I doubt any of us artists do. I am no spreadsheet expert but manage one file to submit all my expenses and income if and when they happen. It is boring but it is useful. When it is time to do the tax return, all I have to do is open the file and see my bottom line. Best bits: useful for tax purposes.
Organise app. Found this in the past year and used it for a bit. It is a visually beautiful way to create lists of all sorts; ranging from to-do lists, competitions, newsletters, blog topics, and much more. I stopped using it as I ended up going back to Evernote. A web-based program. Best bits: Free, easy to use and looks great.
Website builder. I’ve been with Weebly for years. Weebly is a great website builder. there are comparable builders such as Wix, Squarespace and others ( see my comparison in this article) and these companies are providing easy and affordable website building services. Best bits: so easy to use.
Website help. The main site of Google Analytics is not for the faint hearted. It is complicated and confusing (here is an introductory course). But somewhere in all that is some really useful information about how many people visit your website, where they are from, how they got there and on which painting or blog post they linger most. I often use the mobile app as it is a simplified version of the program. Web-based info. Best bits: informative!
Website builder. I recently decided that I needed a bit more than the website builders mentioned above. So I moved to WordPress. Although you can use WordPress in a very easy and simple (and free) way, there is so much more under the hood. Best bits: free, tons of functionality and great admin.
WordPress Theme. If you build your own website, you will need a template or theme. Within Weebly/Wix/Squarespace/etc you can choose from a few dozen beatiful looking templates. In WordPress you get to choose from tens of thousands of templates. Aarch! Too many. Too hard. I found it quite a challenge to find a template that I liked and did everything I wanted it to do. There is just so much out there, it really can take a lot of time.
During my search for the perfect WordPress theme I came across Angie Makes a few times. Although very pink and cute in most of its demos (apparently aimed at girly craft businesses) it can be adjusted to your own taste and audience easily (just swap the pink for black for example). Angie Makes offers very crafty looking themes (as well as graphics) that, although not all to my taste, are inspiring in their creativity. I like working with creative people and felt instantly at home.
Angie Makes offers a great looking site to start with (you are reading this post on one of their themes now) but provides the freedom to change it all and make it your own. Many of their demo sites show girly craft type businesses, but I chose the least girly one and adjusted it all to my own style.
Angie Makes’ customer service is top notch. Before and after I bought my theme, I emailed Chris with endless questions and he patiently answered all of them within mintues or hours. He problably thinks ‘her again!’ whenever he sees my email pop up… ? but still helps out at all times. Check it out: Angie Makes. Best bits: creative, flexible theme, good customer service.
Another WordPress product. Thrive is on the brink of publishing a great sounding WordPress theme, but at the moment I am using their page builder, Thrive Architect. It is wonderful: you can pretty much design your site any way your want in an easy to use drag and drop layout. I really appreciate the way Thrive presents itself, the super helpful blog posts, videos and webinars they produce. The company comes across as all round sensible, down to earth and is not afraid to dish out some practical advice. I’d love to use more of their products.
A WordPress theme for creatives. Not that the theme is so colourful and has fun doodles all over it, but it is a lean machine of a theme: and you can design and adjust whatever you want. A great lean and flexible theme with great 3rd party integrations; this site runs on Astra right now.
Social media scheduler. Buffer is a social media scheduling app which I recently discovered. (see my blog post where I compare Buffer and Socialpilot’s features). It is really handy to be able to schedule your social media posts ahead and write them all at the same time. Handy software for social-media savvy artists. Web-based program. Mobile app available too. Best bits: saves time
Blog reader. There are so many interesting blogs out there! I use Feedly to read them all in one place. It is a feed reader where you can gather links to all your favourite blogs and read all the latests posts in one place. Web-based program. Mobile app available.Best bits: saves time and hassle.
Mailing list provider. Sending out newsletters is no longer done via a mail program. Mailchimp helps me design and send out newsletters to my mailing list. Best bit: free, easy to use, nice designs.
I work with digital images a lot. Not only to update my blog and social media but also within my studio work I often work from photos that have been organised, edited and adjusted.
Photo editing software. Great slimmed downed version of the ‘big’ Photoshop. It can do almost anything. From a simple crop to adjusting layers, adding text, changing background and cutting and pasting bits and much more. I use it to design painting ideas, website banners, greeting cards or open studio signs as well as to adjust and edit photos. One of the best software for artists out there. Best bits: all photo editing programs in one great app. Nice free alternative: Gimp
Photo editing/organising software. Best program ever if you have a lot of images on your computer. Initialy a database for images with all the necessary and handy features of tagging and categorising that you need, but also has a huge number of photo editing features that can dramatically change the look of an image, especially when still in RAW format. Best bits: amazing organising and editing options.
Photo/text editing service. Quick, free and easy online tool to create image+text for social media or websites. Web-based program. Best bits: free, easy, great designs.
Listening while Painting
While at the easel one of these is usually on:
Podcast. I listen to podcasts on art, art history and art business. See these articles for my recommended art podcasts or history podcasts. Best bits: at the moment my favourite podcasts are Problogger and Savvy Painter
Music. I don’t buy music any more, I just listen to it via Spotify. Love it. I have a huge library built up by now. I often listen to the radio as well. Best bits: Almost all music available. Played often while painting: Maria Callas, The Sixteen, James Rhodes, Joyce Didonato.