ARTISTS. If you would like to be better organized in managing your art, art sales, and art-world contacts, check out Artwork Archive. It’s a password-protected web-based platform through which you can track all the art you have created, what pieces have been consigned to galleries or entered in competitions, and what works have been sold.
Artwork Archive was the brainchild of John Feustel, the son of a painter who had reached a point in her career where she really needed help keeping track of her gallery and client contacts and when each piece of art was sold.
“The clunky database or large applications she had to install on her computer had more of what she didn’t need than what she did,” recalls John. When his mother asked him to use his computer programming/web app development experience to devise a better approach, he was happy to help. Together, they created the initial version of Artwork Archive.
Over the past year, the Artwork Archive team has grown and the service has been continually improved with feedback from enthusiastic users. The latest release is a mobile-friendly site that can be accessed via your PC, tablet, or smartphone. It is simple enough for first-time users, but powerful enough to meet the needs of more established artists.
The latest version also includes tools that allow galleries and collectors to track their inventories of art. They can track works by multiple artists, record their appraisal values and other insurance information, and even display their collections to the public
John Feustel recently answered a few questions about how Artwork Archive can help you solve some of the problems you may have experienced with other forms of art-inventory software.
Q. To what extent has Artwork Archive benefitted from your expertise in the latest trends in website development and cloud-based software?
A. Being a modern, cloud-based solution is critical to what we are doing at Artwork Archive. As computers give way to tablets and mobile phones, people’s expectations of what a piece of software can do are changing. Downloading and installing software on your computer, paying for updates, and having the information reside on your own personal computer are becoming things of the past.
What happens when your computer gets a virus or crashes? What happens when you get a new computer — how do you transfer over all your work? With the growth of web-based applications that can be accessed anywhere from any device, we can provide things like daily backups, data security, and instant updates.
The single greatest thing that it gives us is the ability to respond instantly to feedback from artists. If we hear that something is confusing or a certain feature would be useful, we can sometimes get that change live on the site the very same day. It has really allowed us to respond and grow based on user feedback and helped us create the product that we have today.
Q. Do artists appreciate the simplicity of your solution?
A. Based on all the feedback we’ve gotten, they certainly do. While some artists are very tech savvy, many would rather be working in the studio than learning a new software system or dealing with complex database programs. From the beginning we wanted the site to be incredibly easy to use. Instead of extensive documentation, we built the site to walk you through the process of uploading your first piece, filling out your bio, and setting up locations and galleries.
Everything has a very consistent and elegant way of doing things so once you upload your first piece, you basically know how to upload gallery information, add contacts, and create sales. We wanted everything to be self-explanatory and our artists have really recognized how fun and easy the site is to use.
Q. What feature do they seem to like best?
A. It’s really different for each artist. I think the fact that you can generate consignment reports, invoices, and gallery labels at the click of a button has really helped many of our artists advance their careers and approach things in a much more professional manner.
We’ve gotten feedback from gallery owners who love that their artists are using Artwork Archive. Getting consistent and proper documentation and reports helps everyone.
We also have a section called “Insights” that our Artists love. This allows them to see their progress of creation and sales over time, get a heat-map of where all their artwork is located, and helps them visualize their inventory value and location in a number of ways. It’s like business insights for artists and can really help you make data driven decisions about your career.
Recently, a number of artists have started embracing our new Public Profile Page. This allows artists to choose which pieces and info to share publicly and gives them their own public page on Artwork Archive to share and show their work. I think it was best described as a professional looking electronic “calling card”. Some artists are even using this in place of their own website and the feedback has been very positive.
Q. How long does it take to get an inventory of art uploaded? Is it time-consuming to keep it updated?
A. The time it takes really depends on the artist and the body of work. You can have a piece uploaded in only a few seconds. But we often recommend that artists take the time to fill out as much information as possible and write a nice description for each piece. We are also working on a “bulk upload” feature that will allow artists to quickly get a lot of their work in the system, which they can go back and update over time.
It often surprises me how well our artists (my Mom included) keep their inventory, sales, and gallery data updated. They genuinely love tracking their inventory on the site and don’t feel like a piece is complete until it’s been uploaded to Artwork Archive.
Some artists log in very often just to browse around and look at their inventory. I’ve heard that it can be an inspiring process to get that visual overview of your entire body of work and see how you are progressing and adding to it over time.
Q. Has the feedback you have received from other artists reflected the same types of issues that your Mom was struggling with?
A. The initial experience that my Mom had while trying to find an inventory program was very frustrating. The software was outdated, confusing, and didn’t fit into this modern, multi-device world.
From what I’ve seen this is a near universal experience with artists. We have often been described as a “breath of fresh air” after trying out other systems. Artwork Archive seems to “just work” no matter what you are trying to do.
Q. As a new generation of collectors begins to get established, do they recognize the benefits of keeping track of their collections online?
A. I think so. So much of our lives are becoming data driven. We want to track what we eat, how we exercise, how we work, etc. Collectors are no different. Whether it’s a hobby or your life’s passion, being able to record and track your collection for insurance or home inventory purposes is a benefit that both old and new collectors universally agree on.
Recent natural disasters have caused people to think about how they are protecting their art assets and what kind of inventory and documentation they are keeping.
Q. Does the Collector side of Artwork Archive have tools for recording the story behind the art?
A. We have the ability to track the “stories behind the art” through visual and textual means and have really noticed that being a big part of the collector experience. At the time we don’t have support for video or audio but the Collector version of the product is still very new. As we did with the artists, we will adapt and grow the site based on feedback and suggestions from collectors. I can certainly see this being something we add in the future.
Q. What’s next for Artwork Archive? Will you focus on expanding the artist community first or the collector side?
A. It’s really all the same approach to us. We certainly started with the artists and will always have a passion for them. But there is so much intersection between artist, collector and gallery. It really makes sense to work with everyone.
The tools we provide to artists help the collectors and galleries, and vice-versa for the collectors. As they see who and what they are collecting, and keep accurate record of all their contacts, they might be more likely to reach out and acquire more work from the individual artists. We really feel like we can help on both sides of the transaction.
Q. Do artists appreciate the fact that you will be reaching out to aspiring and established collectors and building a community of collectors?
A. It’s still early but I think everyone will start seeing the benefits of having both collectors and artists as part of the Artwork Archive community. At the moment we’re really focused on making the best product for artists and the best product for collectors. Over time we will start to see more and more overlap.
The public profile page is just the first step of that. We have Artists sharing their public page with collectors, galleries and potential clients and seeing very positive feedback from that. This whole world starts with the Artist and the Artwork, but without Collectors, Buyers and Galleries, none of it would be possible.