Are You Disorganized? It Could be Hurting Your Art Business

by guest blogger Katie Carey

As artists, we don’t have the best reputation for being organized. Many would say that it just comes with the territory of being a creative, that spontaneity breeds inspiration.


Get Organized. Guest blogger Katie Carey tells artists how to do it. See her article at


You can have all the creativity in the world, but if you can’t remember which gallery has which piece or find the contact info for that interested buyer, you could be missing out on a potential sale. Or, you will burn yourself out from unnecessary stress.

As a team of artists, designers, developers, and writers at Artwork Archive, we have been lucky enough to spend the last five years talking with thousands of artists about how they keep organized. Here are the five most common things that hold artists back and how to fix them!

You Don’t Carve Out Time to Plan Your Week

It’s hard to prioritize weekly goals when you’re living task-by-task. Sit down and plan out your ideal week — have a vision statement. Seeing your week laid out in front of you can be very revealing. It helps you prioritize what is most important and blocks out time for those tasks. Remember to be reasonable though, tasks always take longer than you think.

Get in the routine of setting reminders for yourself. If you aren’t already using a system that keeps you up to date on important deadlines, set reminders on your phone, on your computer, on an old-fashioned paper calendar —  anywhere that you will actually look to see what you have coming up.

You Stick to the “More is Better” Philosophy

You know you need to have your art business represented online, but with so many platforms available, you don’t know know which ones to use — so you try to use them all. It can feel like you need to master every single site. After all, you want to reach as many potential buyers as possible.

But the thing is, you don’t have to do it all! Depending on your art business, your personality, and who you are trying to reach, some social media channels are going to be better suited for you than others. It’s actually better to start with one or two that you can focus on doing really well than have a bunch of neglected accounts.

You Don’t Have a Centralized Tool for Business

Don’t waste time rifling through endless notebooks, receipts, and emails to find the right information. It’s stressful. Plus, it takes away from your studio time and keeps your clients and galleries waiting.

Having everything at your fingertips allows you to spend more time doing what you love. It also makes consigning works and preparing for exhibitions a breeze allowing these events to be more enjoyable and less chaotic.

Staying organized also helps you enjoy the process along the way. Without something in place, we run into the same problems day in and day out, wasting valuable time searching for information and perpetuating a cycle of stress — when we should be in the studio.

Find a system that works for you and that you will actually use. There are many productivity, inventory management, and financial tracking programs that can help give your business structure.

You Work When Inspiration Strikes (Or, All the Time)

You don’t have to be producing all the time (and you shouldn’t be), but learn to waste time productively. Taking breaks is absolutely essential and can be a healthy way to stay creative and rested. However, many of us waste too many hours or days or weeks doing administrative tasks that steal away our energy and only lead to frustration and burnout.

Work around your peak creative time, set a timeframe and take breaks, use productivity tools, then reward yourself and recover for the night. Working for long interrupted hours can slow down productivity. You can use the Pomodoro Technique — work for 25 minutes and take a five-minute break. Or, work in 90 minute blocks and take 20 minute breaks. And, resist the urge to multitask; it hurts your focus.

You Don’t Know What Work You Have Available or Where it is

So, you just heard from a potential collector that they are interested in your work—and you are ecstatic! You get to talking and they love all your artwork, but one series in particular. Here’s the problem: you don’t remember which gallery those pieces are in, or even if you’ve already sold them.

The more work you make and the longer you practice your art, the harder it is to keep track of everything.

The sooner you start tracking your work (where it is, which galleries it’s been in, who you sold it to, when and for how much) you will be able to not only build a comprehensive overview of your inventory, you will be able to make more informed decisions about your art business.

The good news is that these are all fixable. Having systems in place frees up your time and a reduces the stress of trying to remember everything. With these fixes, you’ll be more productive, more organized, and have more peace-of-mind.

One inventory system that can help you accomplish all these goals is Artwork Archive, an online inventory system that gives you the tools to track your work and contacts, manage your time, print professional reports at the click of a button, and gain insights into your career.



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