I’d recommend Flick! as a good starting database if you don’t already have a better solution. It handles artwork tracking and contacts, and is capable of generating a mail merge list. For $29.95, it gives you a good interface and a way to catalog your work.
It can import from/export to Excel and other formats, lets you store references to external documents (like contracts or consignment lists), tracks exhibition details, and can store up to five images per item. It tracks editions and can create multiple duplicates of an item and auto-number them as it dupes. You can attach keywords to each image if you like. Flick! also has custom value fields so that you can track up to five different parameters, such as frame style, mat colors, or paper type, which correspond to the “classes” that Oscar mentioned as a feature in Quickbooks. Category and Medium are built in, so you can track multiple kinds of artwork and subclassify them as well (eg Photography: Paper, Canvas, Metal; Framed, Matted, Gallery Wrap, etc.). You can edit your entries at any time, and when a piece is sold, you can link contact data to the work.
Artwork can be displayed in one of five formats: Single image/edition, large thumbnail scrolling list, a smaller list with thumbnails, and an excel-style table. In the table style, fields can be rearranged and the table can be sorted by clicking on any of the fields. There’s also a Light Table view which displays all of the image thumbnails in a grid, and a robust filtered view.
It has a robust contact manager which links sales to individual works and allows you to generate mailing lists, although a client can only be on one list at a time. You can send email directly from the program, and can email multiple contacts from a search at once, if your email provider allows it. It uses your current email client (Outlook, Entourage, Mail) to do the sending, and sends each email separately.
Its reporting features are fairly limited, but in keeping with the program. You can print a sales report and an inventory report. Other reports are available from specific screens within the program, but not through the report section — this is a bit confusing at first. In the Sales and Inventory Reports, you can choose which data to include in the report, but you can’t format it. The program doesn’t report on low inventory, or track cost of goods, but it does figure gallery commissions and report that if you wish. It also lets you print a list of artwork to send along with a consignment shipment and allows you to store that list in the database.
All in all, it’s a good introduction to FileMaker Pro database interfaces, and allows a little bit of transparency into how FMP databases are set up. It’s set up more the artist who is exhibiting at galleries than for the artist creating works for art shows, however. It does include a lot of features and for the price, you can’t beat it. And if you decide in the future to move to a more robust program, you can export the data as CSV, Excel or text files.