7 Tasks Artists Can (and Often Should) Outsource to Get Ahead

Emilie Trice | January 12, 2022 (Updated September 20, 2022)

Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash

There is no shame in outsourcing.

As an artist, you are an entrepreneur. Setting up and running a small business is no small task and often requires outsourcing certain jobs to actual experts: accounting, IT, graphic design, etc. No entrepreneur ever felt guilty about having to outsource specific tasks that they, themselves, were not trained to do—and neither should you, as an artist. You make the art. That’s your main job. Trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout and may sabotage your other efforts. 

Here is a list of things you can—and maybe should—outsource as a working artist, as well as the relevant features that Artwork Archive has implemented in order to help you succeed in each area. 

Doing your taxes

Ah, dreaded tax season. No matter what country you live in, the tax man cometh. Doing your taxes is one of those necessary evils that almost all artists dread. However, by implementing best practices throughout the year—in terms of expense and revenue tracking—you’ll be ready for tax time, whether you outsource that particular task or not. 

Any accountant you may hire to do your taxes is still going to need a ton of information from you before filing. Simplify the process by keeping all of your expenses, receipts, invoices and other documentation centralized in your Artwork Archive account. 

Artwork Archive allows you to create sales and expense reports for quick export, which will make your accountant very happy—and ultimately save you time and money. 

Artwork Archive provides free financial resources such as articles with tax expertsfree e-guides, and free webinars for artist subscribers. Did we mention they're free? Artwork Archive's webinar series, entitled “Thrive with Artwork Archive,” deals specifically with topics such as “financial literacy.

Designing your website

There are currently a lot of website-builder options that make creating your own website easy and intuitive. That being said, there can still be a major learning curve when it comes to buying a domain name, getting it hosted, designing the site, publishing it and making sure it shows up in search engines. 

Once a website is pushed "live," maintaining it should be relatively easy—but new improvements in 3rd party integrations means that there’s always something more to learn, test, and implement. Your website is a living record of your work and your career. It’s also an interactive calling card and your personal virtual art gallery. A website is quite possibly the most important thing an artist needs to succeed beyond the artwork itself. 

Hiring a freelance web developer is the best way to create the look and feel you want for your website. Trying to make one yourself can result in a website that doesn’t function properly, gives viewers an inaccurate perception of you and your work, or, even worse, makes the art look bad. 

Artwork Archive offers every subscriber a “public profile” option, so they can always have a web presence, whether they have their own website or not (yet). You can also password protect your public profile so it is only accessible by those select viewers you choose (and with whom you’ve shared the password).

You can also embed your artwork from your Artwork Archive profile into any website you ultimately design by using Artwork Archive’s “universal embed tool.” The embed feature means that, when you alter an artwork’s details in your Artwork Archive account, that piece’s details will automatically be updated on your site, saving you time and ensuring consistency across your archive and your web presence.


Photographing your artwork

Just because everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times nowadays doesn't mean that everyone is a good photographer. Quite the opposite, in fact. 

Photographing your work properly is not only important for generating sales, but also ensures that your work is “remembered” correctly. Hiring the best photographer that you can afford should ultimately pay for itself in the long run. Lighting is critical, as is color correction, and having the proper resolution images for both print (300 DPI, TIFF format) and digital reproductions (72 DPI, JPEG format).

A well-photographed artwork can be the difference between a sale and a pass. If you’re not a great photographer or don’t want to pay for pricey software to edit your photos (not to mention the tripod, camera, lighting, etc.), hiring a professional photographer is your best bet that your artwork will be displayed properly across the web or anywhere else you decide to promote it. 

Before hitting up online job boards like Upwork, ask your peers for recommendations from their networks. Making sure you have professional photographs of every piecebefore artwork leaves your studio—is a best practice to ensure that your archive will be complete—especially since anything can happen in transit or once a piece has been sold. 

Artwork Archive allows you to store numerous high-resolution images of each piece directly in that artwork’s record. You can also include links to original images in inventory reports, so when you send a report to your gallery, they can download the original images directly, ensuring consistent reproduction of your works. If you do this — your gallery will love you. 

Having these images centralized in a database that is stored in the cloud means that you’ll never have to worry about losing this data. If your laptop is stolen, for example, you’ll still have access to all your images, and all their corresponding information.

Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash

Managing your social media

Social media is perhaps the most overwhelming invention of the post-modern age. It’s also one of the most effective ways to get your art in front of as many eyes as possible. If you find you have an aversion to being on social media day-in and day-out, we understand. Unfortunately, social media channels like Instagram reward consistency and frequency, such as posting every day and engaging with commenters. That can really distract you from the work you should be doing, like making art, so protect your time! 

There are a lot of options online now to automate your social media marketing, so you can “set it and forget it.” Still, someone has to upload images, write accurate captions, add appropriate hashtags, as well as respond to comments on a daily basis. Outsourcing these tasks to an up-and-coming or freelance social media marketer can give you a serious ROI in the long run (university students make great interns and can often get course credit for their hours).

Before creating any marketing calendar or social media strategy, read Artwork Archive’s free e-guide to social media marketing for artists. This comprehensive overview of the current social media landscape covers best practices and includes helpful breakdowns of the most important social media channels and their respective target audiences. 

Packing your own artwork for shipping

Art shippers will often refuse to insure artworks unless they’ve packed the work themselves. So let them! The last thing you want is for an artwork to arrive at a collector’s home damaged. That will not only ruin your sale but could also ruin your relationship with said collector.

Some artworks require special packaging, like shadow boxes. These can be complicated to construct and extremely time-consuming. Crating is another beast entirely. Don’t waste precious studio space on empty crates, not to mention rolls and rolls of bubble wrap. 

In addition to taking up lots of space, these materials can also be very costly. In all honesty, packing and/or crating sold artwork for shipping is another expense that should be paid by the buyer. Outsourcing this task to a professional fine art shipping company and having them bill the buyer directly is the recommended course of action.

That all being said, good help can be hard to find! Keep track of all your preferred shipping and installation vendors with Artwork Archive's contacts feature, so you'll have a digital record of past jobs they've completed, estimates they've sent you, and other important documentation for quick and easy reference. 

Installing your work in a client’s home

Do you know how to properly install hanging hardware on Venetian plaster without destroying the wall? No? You’re not alone. 

If you are desperate to close a deal with a buyer, you might offer to take care of delivery and installation. That is not recommended unless you already have a van or truck large enough to transport the piece, and—depending on the size, weight, etc.—another experienced art handler to help carry it and assist with installation. 

These are simply costs that should be paid by the buyer in any art transaction. You can certainly help arrange and coordinate installation, but trying to do it all yourself could lead to some sticky situations. Depending on the wall’s material, installation could require special tools, for instance, and you certainly don’t want to be responsible for destroying your client’s property. So, instead of trying to cut corners to close the deal, offer to coordinate with the installers and have them bill the client directly (upon the client’s approval of a written estimate or job quote, of course). 

By hiring the proper company to deliver and install the work, you and your client can both stand back and direct, rather than trying to do all the heavy lifting yourself. This is a great way to build rapport with your client, who might suddenly realize they have another bare wall in need of some (of your) art.

And, in the event that something does go wrong, any damage should be covered by the installers’ insurance, which can help preserve your relationship with your collector. 

Artwork Archive allows you to group contacts like shippers, art handlers, and installers. Sending a message to an entire contact group, such as requests for installation quotes, reduces the time and energy needed to coordinate these post-sale logistics, so you can spend more time making art. 


Writing your artist statement—or anything at all, really 

Writing is incredibly important when applying to grants or residencies (or drafting the all-important artist statement for your website). While the artwork itself is obviously the most important part of any application, your artist statement, project proposal, and a general statement of purpose are also critical elements and can tank your overall impression to a jury or selection committee. 

If you are not a good writer, you’re in luck. There are a lot of job boards out there where you can source a freelance writer and many ways to connect with writers with an art history background. Reaching out to local universities with art history masters degree and doctoral programs is also an excellent way to create a relationship with a writer who understands your work and vision. 

And who knows, that same doctoral student could one day become a curator at a leading museum and you’ll already have built a trusted relationship with them. 

If hiring a freelance writer is not an option for your budget, then read this article on the best practices for writing an effective artist statement, and this article on things to avoid.

Once you have the texts you've always dreamed of, save them in your Artwork Archive account under "MyDocs," which is available to all artist account holders. This is your central repository for all of your important documents and is also the best place to save the most up-to-date version of your artist CV and/or bio. You can also cut and paste these texts into your public profile, so anyone visiting your public profile page will have the most current information on your artistic practice. 

In summary, outsourcing is a tried-and-true business practice for serious entrepreneurs. While the additional costs may be tough to justify, the return on investment can (and should) ultimately make the initial expense worthwhile. Accelerate your art career by delegating these tasks and focus on the most important part of being an artist—creating the art.

Artists use Artwork Archive to organize their work and grow their careers. Try it free for 14 days, no credit card required. 

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