Life As An Itinerant Artist

Stories and anecdotes from fifteen years on the art show circuit. 

Artist Software

You can never underestimate the value of good business records. And since the work I create is my livelihood, it’s important to me to keep track of each print throughout its life – from the first proof in an edition to the last print pulled. When I first got started as a fine artist, I looked for ready-made software solutions to tracking inventory and customers. Ultimately, I built my own database in Filemaker Pro. While it’s not perfect, it taught me a lot about what data is useful to me, and more importantly, allows me to create reports to solve special problems.  The downside of that is that it takes time, effort, and skills that you may or may not have.

My little database tracks each print and edition, together with when it was sold, at what show for what price, and to whom. It will generate reports on what prints are inventory, what prints have been sold and can generate a list that I take to shows in a notebook that tells me whether I have a print matted, framed, or in storage. It does not, however, generate a low inventory report that lets me replenish. Unfortunately, that’s still a manual process.

Here are some commercial alternatives, from the least expensive to the most costly. Some only run on Windows natively, but will run on an Intel Mac under Parallels or VMWare Fusion. Some are cross platform. Most of these will track artwork, editions and contacts. Some will generate invoices, COAs, and even upload work to a website. I haven’t tried them all, so it’s up to you to do your own research.

Mac/PC Filemaker Pro based. $29.95 Tracks contacts, artwork, sales. 
Will run in demo mode. Nicely designed, clean interface, simple, inexpensive
Mac/PC $30. Limited record demo available
Art & Craft Business Organizer 
PC only $50. Demo available
Working Artist 
PC only $99 (download). Demo available
Mac/PC Filemaker Pro based. $125
Mac/PC. Filemaker Pro based. $129 (price may be going up).
Discounts for some artist organizations. Demo available
Win/XP Filemaker Based $150. 
Limited Record Demo Available (20 records)
ArtLook for Artists PC only $99 (pounds)
Art Organizer PC only $25
Art Affair Artist Edition PC only  $159 
Demos available
Archer Artist Software
(developed by Masterpiece Gallery Software creators). 
PC only $195
Artworks Pro PC only $249
Modular approach to data driven system
Studio Mac/PC $795
Web Manager – managed solution for web building
[Note: Many of these applications have come and gone, to be replaced by newer, better apps. A forthcoming post will cover the options. May 2020]

May 2, 2009

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