Art is a business, and like any business, it is necessary to keep track of expenses as well as income. While you can do this by hand, nothing beats a computer program to track stuff! I have been searching for a comprehensive program for my art business for years. While there are some all-inclusive programs beginning to be developed, I have usually found some flaw in the program; either they were hard to use, or had an incompatible photo program for thumbnails of my art, etc. There are a couple of new companies with programs designed for artists out on the internet (see links below). DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that I have no practical experience with any of these programs except Working Artist. It is up to you to check them out and decide if you want to use them. Here are some links to potential art software sites along with what information I have on them:
http://www.artlooksoftware.com/Downloads/Introduction.pdf (Free evaluation copy available) Current pricing is £150.00 (I assume this is British pounds or some type of Euro symbol).
http://www.gyst-ink.com/ Retails for either $59.00 or $129.00 depending on whether you want just the basic system or their Pro program.
http://www.artsystems.com/products/system.htm this system says it will link to QuickBooks, web manager and has a system for I-Pad. It is also VERY expensive; licensing for this puppy runs anywhere from $5,000 down to $795.00.
http://workingartist.com/ Retails out for between $139 — $154 with upgrades for $59. This one comes in 4 separate editions 1) a studio edition designed for agents representing several artists, 2) The artist edition, designed the single artist to manager their business. The site also claims to have an edition for Art Fairs and for Galleries, but I wasn’t able to access them by clicking on them. This is the only one of these software programs I have any actual working knowledge of, and it was about 10 years ago that I tried to use a free trial download. At that time, I experienced considerable difficulty in uploading photos of my work into the program, as it would not accept jpeg versions for some reason. I assume they would have corrected this issue in the intervening time.
http://www.masterpiecemanager.com/artistfnb.html this one says it will manage inventory, contact, point of sale, has art web site templates, e-mail marketing and is available for MAC & PC. This is not that unusual as ALL of the software programs say they have both MAC & PC versions. Pricing for individual artists is $29/month, which works out to about $348 a year. Like Working Artist, this set up also has different programs for Galleries, stores consignment stores, museums, etc.
If you don’t want to purchase an expensive program, you can simply use an excel spreadsheet to track income and expenses but it is very time consuming. For expense tracking, I would recommend QuickBooks to track your expenses and income. QuickBooks, while a little on the expensive side is pretty user friendly and easily transitions into tax software programs such as Turbo Tax when it comes time to file your income tax. Unfortunately, I have heard rumors that it doesn’t mesh as well with Apple products as it does PCs. If you simply want to go the excel program route and manually track stuff, you can access copies of my system at http://www.thepracticalartist.com.
Yes, Virginia, I am actually using three programs to track my art and my expenses. QuickBooks for income and expenses, two spreadsheets that tell me where my art is at any given time; (Current Location Report and Painting Information Sheets) to track awards, income from each painting or prints made from it. I also use a photo file with different sized images of my art for various uses (webpage, large-sized prints, and specific sizes for on-line show entries).
For Photo Editing I use Photoshop Elements because it is less pricey than the full Adobe editing program and as a painter, I really don’t need the maximum amount of bells and whistles you get with the full Adobe Suite.
I can’t say this often enough; back up your data!
You should keep at least two types of photo records:
A photo log with both high- and low- resolution photos of your work, kept separately from your desktop computer. A working copy can be kept on the desktop, but be sure and back up your files each month onto a separate disc or jump drive.
To keep track of your business and be able to recover your files in a disaster, you will need:
A program or system to track income and expenses;
A record that includes an image of each piece of art created and its disposition or current location.
Keep back-up copies of these items in a separate place, And up-date your back-ups monthly. Once your records are lost due to computer crashes, natural disaster or any other reason they are gone. For this, you can purchase separate auxiliary drives that have as much memory as a desktop, or you can back your stuff up into a version of the cloud. There are a LOT of cloud backup systems out there now. Automatic systems such as I-Cloud, and manual systems like Dropbox. None of these are free and if you can’t keep up the payments, I don’t know how recoverable your records might be. Check them out.