Art Inventory Management: The Secret Driver of Success

As artists, we need the right tools for the job. Thinking about the perfect paint brush can keep us up at night; we know that having the right materials can make all the difference. While a master craftsman never blames his tools, he has the experience to know how to pick them. Equally important to our success as artists is our ability to select the right tools to run our business effectively.

When it comes to organizing your work, there is a lot to keep in mind …  and at times it can seem impossible to manage. That’s where art inventory software comes into play.

Art inventory systems streamline all of the important information for your art practice like provenance, contacts and sales, custom reports, and important deadlines. This helps you easily keep track of where your artwork is, who has it, what it sold for, and start to make more informed decisions about the direction of your studio.

We asked five prominent plein air painters: why do you use an art inventory management system?

“Birds Eye View”, Lori Putnam

“Birds Eye View”, Lori Putnam

It Benefits Your Buyers, Lori Putnam

People who buy my work want to know about the story behind the work. They are curious about the what, where, and why of my paintings. Having an inventory system allows me to record the details and origin story of each piece I create. It matters to me as my career has grown, and it matters to my buyers. They care about the history of the painting.

It’s very challenging as a professional artist to remember all the details of every painting. Having the right art inventory system makes that easy.

The story matters.


“Evening Glow”, Jane Hunt

“Evening Glow”, Jane Hunt

It Makes the “Making” Part Less Stressful, Jane Hunt

As my art business has grown, it’s been increasingly difficult to keep track of everything. I’ve also entered a painting into a show when it was actually unavailable in a gallery. It was very stressful not knowing where everything was. I kept feeling like I was going to mess up.

Artists need to have a handle on what piece is where. It makes your art time less stressful too. It’s important to have a good system in place. I used to have details in random documents and lists stuck to my walls. I tried to come up with my own system, but it was a waste of time. It wasn’t streamlined or very useful.

Embraced with Memories, Brienne Brown

Embraced with Memories, Brienne Brown

It Simplifies My Life, Brienne Brown

Having an art inventory system has made my life so much easier. I love being able to sort and searchfor artworks easily.  I used to keep all my inventory in an Excel file … but I found it to be incredibly limiting—it’s not a real solution. Switching over to something that is custom tailored to the needs of the modern day artist has made a huge difference in my career.

When you start creating at a significant level, you need a way to organize everything easily—you need a way to know exactly what was created, where it is and how long it will be there. Before I found Artwork Archive I struggled with keeping track of shows. Now I can see a history of each show I’ve entered and which pieces I entered into it.

In addition to keeping me organized, it also simplifies the business aspects of art making. I was just recently getting a bunch of pieces ready for a gallery, and I saw that you can make gallery labels … I just couldn’t help but be like, “are you kidding me, that was so easy.“


Rain Flowers, Lori McNee

Rain Flowers, Lori McNee

It Increases the Value of Your Work, Lori McNee

Fine art appraiser Christine Guernsey explains, Solid and documentable provenance increases the value and desirability of an artwork, in an article for Chubb Insurance. Christine also notes, Failure to keep careful records of this pertinent information can cause a work to be undervalued [or] remain unsold.

Collectors will enjoy the extra information and personal touch. And, properly documented work preserves and protects the value of a collection.


Margaritas in Tubac, Heather Arenas

Margaritas in Tubac, Heather Arenas

It Makes Scheduling Easy, Heather Arenas

One of the major difficulties I experienced was keeping track of dates required for show entry and for artwork drop off and with Artwork Archive I have all my competitions and exhibitions listed in there. I know exactly when the entry needs to be made, how much I need to pay for it, when the work needs to be dropped off, when the exhibition is, and when I need to pick up the work.

It’s really nice having that all in one place.

Wind Swept Murray, Terrill Welch

Wind Swept Murray, Terrill Welch

It Keeps Administration Time Down, Terrill Welch

I am a painter, not an administrator. Anything that successfully keeps my brushes in my hand and still allows me to run my business is essential.

I started working full-time as an artist in 2010. Depending on the size, I produce between 20 and 40 new original oil paintings each year. On average, over the past six years, I sell half of what I create.

A finely-tuned, practical, reliable, easy-to-use inventory, show, and sales record system is necessary. And if my device fails, that is all that is lost, not my art records. Basically, once I get a work entered into the system, I never have to input this information again. I love that!

It Saves Time, Lori Putnam

Art inventory systems save you time and bring a great deal of convenience in an otherwise chaotic world. If you are a career artist, you are doing more than one painting a year. You are spending a lot of time in the studio. The most important thing for me in a tool is that I only have to enter my story once, and then I can move on.

It’s important for any artist, at any point in their career, to be recording this information. It’s a critical tool for any professional artist that is serious about their career. Not to mention, being organized makes you look professional to galleries and other potential buyers.

… So, Why Do We Love It

At Artwork Archive we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best inventory and career management platform for professional artists. As a team of artists, designers, writers and developers, we all love coming together to think about solutions for artists to improve their businesses

We are especially excited about making a product that is incredibly robust and available from anywhere, on any device, at any time. With industry level security, we are trusted by artists and collectors from all over the world, knowing that a hard-drive crash won’t get in the way of their life’s work. 

Aside from the big stuff like tracking and sales, we also love that we can simplify all the little things you need to stay on top of as an artist like invoicing, consignment reports, contact management and gallery labels.

There are, of course, different ways to go about organizing your work and your business. We, perhaps unsurprisingly, are partial to Artwork Archive. But no matter how you track your inventory, the important part is that you are doing it!

Visit Artwork Archive to learn more about their art inventory management system. 

Lori Putnam1 Comment