There are lots of ways for artists to work effectively. Some prefer very neat studio environments while others thrive in creative chaos. Regardless if you are in one of these camps or somewhere in between, it is critical to your success that your administration be well organized.
If you are entering competitions or showing in galleries/other venues, you need to track accurately which works are being submitted to art calls. Why is this so key? If you enter the same work in multiple calls for concurrent or overlapping events and the work is accepted, then you could be obligated to show the same thing in two or more places at once – which is, of course, impossible. In addition, some calls for entry include restrictions that are important to adhere to – like work being completed in a certain time period (e.g., the last two years) or work not presented in prior shows at that venue.
Artists navigate these issues in a variety of ways. Many use software to catalog and manage their work. The cost and features of these programs vary, so it is worth a little time to explore what they offer and how they operate so you can assess if any align to your requirements and budget. A few common ones include Artwork Archive, ArtBinder, and ArtMoi, but there are others as well – a quick search of the Internet will turn up more options.
For artists looking for a lower cost alternative, a spreadsheet like Excel that can be customized to your unique needs may be enough. And even simpler, a document in a program like Word may do the trick, with an image and basic details of each completed work (e.g., dimensions, price, year completed, and materials/mediums), and a dated listing for each entry to a call setting out the show venue, dates, other key information, as well as an image of each work submitted.
Another free option is to use one of the art inventory templates available at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13Jo1OYkGQSDXx1qT8jpjXotXv4zcZtG4_gA_xdPd2rM/edit?usp=drivesdk
These take similar approaches and cover basics like title, dimensions, year created, price, description, status, and show information. And, if there is other information you want to track, they easily can be adapted to fit your needs with adjustments to the existing categories or the addition of new ones.
Whether you are an emerging artist or seasoned professional, keeping track of your sold and available inventory, prices, where and when any of your work has been shown, and any other information important to you likely will save you valuable time. It also may assist you with contact information for newsletters as well as other promotional activities. And, it can enhance your professionalism by saving you from avoidable and embarrassing mistakes that can diminish your reputation or cost you money.