I like to utilize an index card system to track my pieces. I make note of title, medium, size, price, what shows it’s entered into and participated in, buyers info, as well as date started and completed. I have separate sections for Buyers and Shows as well, so that I can cross reference easily. I've found that using cards of different colors an easy visual way to differentiate the categories.
What I like best about this system is that I can physically have the card on my desk or next to my easel while I'm working. Like many, I'm easily sucked into the computer and lured into other activities. Having the card with me, at my worksite, helps to keep me on track.
I'm also very interested in how long each piece takes to complete. I'm working hard to be more disciplined and I like to follow my minutes. It’s handy to jot down the start/finish times for each work session on the back of the individual index card!
When your body of work becomes large enough that index cards are no longer manageable, there are a number of robust software databases available.
Working Artist is a popular database that divides information into artist info, artwork, and patron records. You can create mailing lists, create invoices, and keep a calendar, and track your supplies as well as a number of other tasks. Working Artist runs on Windows, costs $99, and they offer a free trial!
Artlook will track your artwork, develop a website that links to your art database in gallery format, manage sales and create invoices, generate catalogs and price lists, create an online ordering system, provides several mail utilities. Artlook runs on Windows and costs £ 99, and they offer a free trial!
Art Systems Studio is a business management system that keeps track of your inventory, accounting, integrates Outlook & Word, archives spreadsheets and other documents, and can update all related records when changes are made. Available for both Windows and Mac, it's a little pricey at $795.
Art Base offers inventory and contact management, will create a website from 25 templates compatible on all browsers (even cell phone or PDA), a stand alone email program that formats HTML mail for you, offers image tools, is compatible with MS Office and QuickBooks, generates financial reports, creates and manages complex lists, allows you to keep a detailed library in connection to your work, it even offers a bar code utility! This fully featured program runs on Windows, Mac and Linux and starts at $1,000.
I'm still considering these programs, and would love to learn of any others that folks are using and their experience with them as well as the software mentioned above.
Once I start managing my work on the computer, I'm still faced with tracking my time while I paint. I'm going to take advantage of my PDA with one of these two Project Tracking utilities:
Pico Trak is a dynamic system that allows you to track multiple projects. Just click to start and stop the timer! 30 day trial and $25 to buy. (for Palm OS)
Titrax is an old freeware program that lists projects and tracks work time for each one. (for Palm OS)
You can find similar time tracking PDA programs for other operating systems on Softpedia.
With so many options for administering our work, there is no reason to remain disorganized. Happy business management!