From Spreadsheets to Simplified Management: My Journey with Artwork Archive

Suzy Kopf | February 13, 2024

A long table displaying a range of similar artworks for a commission. Detail of a set of a 50 journal commission by artist Sonya Kleshik.
Suzy Kopf is a multidisciplinary artist, college educator, and arts writer. She is a regular contributing writer for BmoreArt, as well as Baltimore MagazineJohns Hopkins Magazine and the Baltimore Museum of Art, and specializes in profiles on creatives, art business practice, and exhibition reviews. Her work has been shown throughout the US and Canada and she has been the recipient of numerous residency fellowships including Kala, The Studios at Mass MoCA, Playa, and VCCA. 

Back in the dark ages, or B.A.A. (Before Artwork Archive), I was an artist who kept inventory in color-coded spreadsheets.

As an undergraduate at Parsons, we were told this was the way and I quickly adopted it. I was extremely diligent about updating my multiple-page spreadsheets with new works and moving them to a “sold” page of the sheet when they left my studio for their new homes. I recorded sizes, and prices, and pretentious titles I made up and promptly forgot, all in their neat columns. I even jammed up the loading time of my documents by putting very tiny jpegs into a column, so I would have a visual to match with the assortment of recorded data.

And yet, as naturally as I adapted to maintaining inventory spreadsheets (and I know I am unusual, many artists do not like keeping spreadsheets) I always thought, there has to be a better way to do this.

Why did I choose Artwork Archive to manage my artwork?

I knew there had to be a system for artists that felt less like boring data entry labor and more visual—something that is searchable and robust.

At the time, around 2009-2012, I worked at art galleries in New York and for individual artists as a studio assistant. The galleries were using a program called ArtBase, and some of the individual artists I cataloged work for were using Filemaker Pro. Both of these programs operated on local servers, which led to occasional search inaccuracies and, at times, complete system crashes that resulted in the loss of recently entered data.

As an emerging artist, I initially knew such software to be expensive and beyond my reach, especially with my five-year-old student laptop that struggled with hardware space. However, I discovered that Artwork Archive offers an affordable solution tailored for artists, providing an accessible platform that doesn't take up room on your hard drive, making it a practical choice for artists at any stage of their career.

To give you a clearer picture, Artwork Archive's pricing structure is designed to be inclusive, with various plans to suit different needs and budgets. The platform is built by artists that understand the needs of artists. 

Since adopting Artwork Archive in 2020, the platform has become my go-to place on my computer to pull up past and available works together. I have found the ability to filter available and sold works to be unparalleled. Sure, getting everything uploaded was initially a heavy lift. But, once I got started, it was just about maintenance. Instead of plugging new work into a spreadsheet, I put it directly into my Artwork Archive account.

 

An individual looking at a computer an using her Artwork Archive Public Profile.Artist Kathleen O’Brien at work on Artwork Archive, ‚Äč© Kathleen O’Brien.

How do I use Artwork Archive in my art practice and art business?

Artwork Archive keeps me honest in a way, too. I know I need to get works properly documented so that I can add them to my profile and ultimately share them with collectors, or the public at large.

Artwork Archive not only helps keep your portfolio organized, but it also puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to what info goes public. It’s all about getting your work properly documented, but you can then choose which artworks to make public and shareable. But here’s the real kicker: you can streamline your workflow big time with the embed feature. This lets you sync your Artwork Archive portfolio directly with your own website, cutting down on the tedious task of double data entry. 

While I continue to use my website to showcase my artwork in series and ideas, it is possible to create collections of your artworks on Artwork Archive and easily showcase your work by theme or any other type of grouping. While you

The platform truly ups the game for showcasing my available work. Picture this: I'm at a dinner with a bunch of friends, and someone I've just met is curious about my art. Instead of awkwardly trying to describe my pieces, sharing a cumbersome spreadsheet, or apologizing for not being able to quickly access images and information about the work, I whip out my phone and pull up Artwork Archive.

Suddenly, these potential collectors are scrolling through high-quality images of my work, complete with all the details—prices, sizes, stories behind the pieces—you name it. And it's all happening while we're passing around the appetizers.

Back in the day, the thought of sharing my clunky, slow-to-load spreadsheets, filled with endless columns of colors and numbers, with a potential collector? Forget about it. It was impersonal, cumbersome, and frankly, a bit embarrassing. But now, with Artwork Archive, I've got this sleek, easy-to-navigate portfolio of my work right at my fingertips. It's not just about the convenience; it's about presenting my art in the best possible light, anywhere, anytime. 

 

Does Artwork Archive help with showcasing my artwork? 

In addition to making me look good for potential collectors, I love using Artwork Archive to create Inventory Reports for group and solo shows.

These reports allow me to meticulously curate which pieces I want to display, providing a polished, comprehensive overview of my work. They can include a range of custom information: including thumbnails and links to high-resolution images, descriptions, pricing, medium, and any other relevant details that galleries or show organizers might need. This level of detail and professionalism makes the planning and setup process smoother for everyone involved.

Artwork Archive Tip:

Are you looking to include a personalized report header to all of your documents?

Learn how to upload a report header here

Having all the information gathered in an Inventory Report means I can attach the PDF to a confirmation email or print it out and mail it along with the artwork.

Moreover, these reports are invaluable for documentation purposes. They help me keep a detailed record of which artworks were shown where and when, which is crucial for tracking my exhibition history and understanding the journey of my pieces. This documentation is not only useful for my records but also enhances my portfolio when applying for grants, residencies, or other exhibitions. It shows a level of organization and seriousness about my career that can set me apart from other artists.

Beyond the practicalities for shows, Inventory Reports also assist in managing my inventory more efficiently. They make it easy to see at a glance which pieces are available, which are sold, and which are currently on display, simplifying inventory management and saving me a significant amount of time. This streamlined approach allows me more freedom to focus on creating new work, secure in the knowledge that the business side of my art is organized and accessible.

 

This is how I create Reports like Inventory sheets, Portfolio Pages, Certificates of Authenticity and more in Artwork Archive

If you don't have an Artwork Archive account, you might be wondering how you go about creating these simple reports. These are the steps I take to generate inventory reports to share with my galleries and use in shows. 

  1. Sign In to Your Account: Log into your Artwork Archive account. If you don’t have an account yet, you’ll need to sign up for a free trial and then choose the plan that best suits your needs.

  2. Add Your Artworks: Before generating a report, ensure all the artworks you want to include are uploaded to your account. For each piece, you can enter details such as title, medium, dimensions, price, and a high-resolution image. The more detailed your entries, the more informative your inventory report will be.

  3. Navigate to the Reports Section: Once your artworks are uploaded, go to the Reports section of Artwork Archive. This section is designed to help you create various types of reports, including inventory reports.

  4. Choose Your Report Type: Select the option to create an Inventory Report, or a number of other reports. You will be prompted to customize the report to your needs. This can include selecting which pieces to feature, and deciding on the information to display for each artwork (e.g., price, dimensions, medium).

  5. Customize Your Report: Customize your report by choosing your report header, contact information, and specific artworks or collections to include. You can filter your selection based on criteria like availability, exhibition history, or collection. This step allows you to tailor the report to a specific audience or purpose, such as a gallery show or a portfolio review.

  6. Generate the Report: After customizing your selections and preferences, generate your report. Artwork Archive will compile the information into a polished, professional document.

  7. Review and Share: Review your inventory report to ensure it meets your needs and expectations. You can then download it as a PDF or share it directly via email through Artwork Archive. Some plans may also offer options to share the report through a public link or embed it on your website.

 

An example of an Inventory report on Artwork Archive.

An example Inventory Repot on Artwork Archive.

 

Get an overview of your trajectory as an artist

A final way I use Artwork Archive is as a place to see all my work together at once. The Collections feature allows me to quickly pull up groups of works together that have long been separated and to ruminate on themes that continue to be of interest to me moving forward in my practice.

It allows me to organize my artwork into various groups, making it incredibly easy to access sets of works that may have been physically separated due to sales, exhibitions, or loans. This capability is invaluable for several reasons:

  1. Curatorial Projects: When planning for exhibitions or proposing collections to galleries, I can swiftly create thematic or chronological collections of my work. This visual and organized presentation helps both me and potential collaborators to see the coherence and evolution of my art over time.

  2. Reflection and Development: By grouping my works, I can reflect on recurring themes, techniques, and materials in my practice. This introspection is crucial for understanding my development as an artist and identifying areas for future exploration. It's like having a visual dialogue with my own work, allowing me to see connections and progressions I might not have noticed otherwise.

  3. Portfolio Management: The Collections feature makes it easy to manage and update my portfolio. Whether I'm preparing for artist residencies, grant applications, or simply updating my website, having organized collections of my work simplifies the process of selecting and presenting my art in the most compelling way.

  4. Engagement with Collectors & Clients: Artwork Archive's Collections feature also enables me to share curated sets of my work with collectors, fans, and potential buyers using Private Rooms. By creating Private Rooms, I can engage different audiences with specific interests, whether it's showcasing my latest series or highlighting works available for purchase.

  5. Archival Purposes: Beyond immediate practical uses, organizing my work into collections serves archival purposes. It ensures that every piece, regardless of its current location, is documented and categorized, preserving my artistic legacy and making it accessible for future reference.

In essence, Artwork Archive's Collections feature acts as a dynamic canvas, allowing me to curate, reflect, and share my art in ways that deepen my engagement with my own work and facilitate connections with the broader art community. This holistic view of my portfolio not only aids in my artistic development but also enhances my professional presentation and outreach efforts.

 

How can you get started?

Embarking on a digital art management journey with platforms like Artwork Archive streamlines the administrative tasks of managing art collections.

The suite of tools allows artists both document their work and showcase their portfolio to a wider audience, including collectors and galleries, boosting visibility and sales opportunities.

 

Curious to learn more? Join one of our next live learning sessions or sign up for you free trial to explore on your own. 

An image ad for Artwork Archive showing the platform on a iPhone.

Share This Article
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Cookie Policy