Belinda Lindhardt

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Keeping Track of Your Work

In preparation for the market, developing my website and just selling my work something i have been trying to work out is how to keep track of all my artworks.

To be honest prior to this i really didn't know what i was taking to the market, what was framed and what wasn't, i had no price comparisons, no sizes for individual pieces and wasn't sure which were included on my website until i laid it all out in front of me.

So I wanted to share with you all the system i devised to keep a track of everything. This system was also required because i tend not to be too inventive with my artwork titles so if i call something pears then that could be confused with other pear pieces and didnt want to look unprofessional.

Firstly, before i start from a marketing point of view i have no idea what the experts advise on displaying these numbers on your site and marketing material but for my own organizational and professional viewpoint i found it invaluable as i was able to price works accordingly see at a glance "what was what" and also my helper Theresa at the market was able to see what medium, price, title the works were. In addition the customer was also able to see very quickly without having to ask via the use of labels. (i noticed people don't like to ask they like to browse for themselves).

Basically i came up with a numbering convention, the number started at 000 (as i figured it will be a while before i make it past the 1000 artworks point :) and essentially each artwork is referenced by its own number. Whether it be a finished artwork or not, basically anything i want to keep a record of or published on my blog.
I would also like to point out that as a web designer who is used to dealing with lots of files / directories and images a common timewaster for clients them searching through their images trying to work out the image they require and then trying to explain to me which image to use on what page (as their filenames are often the same in different directories). This numbering system is essentially what i use when building a website and is excellent as you and your web developer can instantly recognise files both on your harddrive and the server once you know the naming convention its simple to follow. Many clients are happy i have converted them once they are use to it :)

For me each artwork starts on the computer with a directory and reference image, so I will start talking how i organise it on my computer and go from there.

On your Computer
The first artwork i decided to create under the system i gave the number 001
note: i actually put all my previous artworks not on the number system into a folder called "000_archive" so this one displays at the top of the list, i also have a miscellaneous folder for sketches and quick drawings for my blog at number "002_sketches".

Note2: i use lowercase and an underscore "_" in my filenames because websites dont like spaces in filenames and some servers don't like uppercase its a force of habit and a good one to get into so you don't have to go back and change things later (underscore should be next to your 0 on your keyboard have to hold down shift to get it)

Here are the steps:

  • create directory/folder "001_pears" - i usually add just a basic title for the directory name as this isn't as important as the actual filenames and just allows me to quickly browse through directories knowing what they are
  • Inside that i put the reference photo i usually just call the file "reference.jpg" but if you want to be exact you should really call it "001_reference.jpg"
  • If i am doing a WIP for a blog or forum then as i create work i save the files as them i call "001_wip01.jpg"," 001_wip02.jpg" etc.
    The nice thing about this is that you can see at a glance what that files are and if you upload them to a website they wont conflict with any other filenames, once you get use
    d to it not only is it easy but also they will display nicely in your windows explorer in neat in sequential order.
  • Once the wips are out the way i usually do a final scan of the image and save it uncropped as "001_rawscan.tiff"
    This file will be a big 300dpi image and i usually save it as a tiff file incase i later need it for printing purposes but jpg is also fine
  • Then I proceed to crop it and make the images i need for website, blog etc , the names i call these are:

I need different sizes for various forums, blogs and websites so this is just my requirements you can just do whatever you need but the important thing is you can see what is what, they dont conflict with your WIP files and if ever you need an image its right there for you without you opening it up to see what is inside.

If you have later versions of a particular file you just end it with a 01,02 etc, that way they will display properly and you know which version to get eg. 001_blog_01.jpg,

So now we have the files now what?

Well As you will see on my website i have the numbers referenced on my website and i have stated that if people are interested in an artwork to state the reference number so there is no confusion on which piece they are interested in. This would carry through in email correspondence, blog references (although i am not as strict on my blog), invoicing/ receipts and
i imagine would also work well with galleries and other places you display your work.

Now we get down to the tracking part, i have then
a word document (or you could use excel) which contains fields so that see at a glance from the reference number what the details of that particular artwork are, here is a screenshot:

The columns are: Ref No. | Title | Price | Sold | Medium / Support | Size | Prints

I have made a blank version available here if you wish to download it here. (55k)
I had this printed out at the market so Theresa and i could see what was what, and if an item was sold then could tick it off. This could be modified depending on whether you have gallery / website / ebay sales etc . the same principle works. I also had cms / inches on my sizes as in australia there tends to be both dimensions on frames etc. even tho we are on the metric system.

So, from now on whenever i create a new artwork i just add in a new row at the top of the table and fill in the details of the new artwork and have all the information there. Alternatively i just print it out with some blank rows at the top and can write in it with pen as i go and periodically do a new print out. If you are using excel you have a few more choices such as add date in there and sort by date or reference if you are producing lots of artworks really the options can be tailored to you. It also means when you add your images of your artwork to your website there is no hunting around for sizes and mediums etc you have all the info there its just a matter of sticking it on.

For the Customer
In addition to this on my artworks i created labels to be stuck at the back (just taped to the backs of frames on mounted boards). The labels had no prices but just information so that it was clear what medium, reference number, size and my website address. I included artwork size and mat size separately as some of the artwork wasn't framed and wanted customers easily to be able to buy a frame of their choice should they want to. I thought this was also handy for people buying gifts for others that all the information was there.

Here is what the label looked like:
Here is the artwork labels document if you wish to download it and edit (98k) it for yourself. I put 12 on one A4 page and just cut them up with a scalpel and ruler (sorry they aren't even, word was just driving me nuts by this stage and i had run out of time to play with it too much).
I typed some of the details directly onto the lables so they were there when printed and ( from my artwork tracking document) i also had some blank that i could just write on in pen on the day as i ran out of time.

Thankyou / Receipt
In addition to the above i had planned to have ready or print out letters based on the reference number as a thankyou with information based on the artwork tracking and website information of details about the artwork as well as where to find more about me etc. i didnt get time for this for the market but i plan to do up the letter and have it ready there incase there is any sales.

So there you have it, how i track my artwork its something i will change from time to time but for now it works for me.


Kasie @ ~The Art of Life~ said...

What a wonderful idea and post! I'm definitely going to have to print this out for reference. Thanks so much for sharing it!
I hope that you and the boys are all feeling better today! I've been thinking about you.

Serena said...

What a great file system! Thanks so much for sharing it, Belinda.

Btw, I subscribed to your blog a while's fabulous and I look forward to your updates.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thank you so much Serena. I just checked out your blog you do some fabulous work. Always nice to hear from a fellow australian.

Rose Welty said...

Belinda, I blogged you on this!

Marie-Dom said...

This is amazing! I am so organisation-challenged, I might try and give this a go and see how it works for me. Thanks for sharing it.