How to grow credibility and keep your autonomy as an artist.
Updated: Apr 24
Why and how should I organise my artistic practice?
You’ll never see some of the artworks that leave your studio again. At least not physically once they are sold, donated, or destroyed. That’s why documenting your work is crucial to keep a complete overview of your entire body of work.
An organised overview of your artworks helps you to work with consistency on titles, material descriptions, editions, pricing, ... This helps your professional aura towards collectors, curators and everybody interested in your work.
Cataloguing your art helps you to decide when an artwork is “finished”. This is a very important artistic step in the creation process. Even if certain artworks have the tendency to transform over the years, it's best to catalogue all of its stages.
Discover relations between your artworks and contacts. Who shows interest in your work? Which works have been shown where? Who is buying your work on a regular base? To whom did you send a proposal and which specific artwork(s)? Which people should get information when you exhibit? Which curators and critics show interest for which works? Build strong relationships by growing your knowledge about people.
Create a treasure of valuable information (for instance exhibition history) to valorize your individual artworks and total body of work.
Prepare your studio visits. Not all of your artworks will be at your studio. Make sure you have an organized and professional way to present a good overview of your work to potential collaborators and clients.
Make sure your work is visible for the world to find.
Hereby also a checklist on all the things you should do before, during and after an exhibition.
Check if there is a production budget or artist honorarium. Make sure to agree on financial conditions.
Add the exhibition to your CV.
Gather all details of the artworks you'll be showing such as complete captions, image(s), pricing, packing, location, etc.
If you produce new artworks: register your production costs, who covered these costs, when and how should they be reimbursed.
Get a quickly accessible overview of all the artworks for the upcoming exhibition.
Communicate artworks, packing information and pick-up location(s) with the exhibitor.
Make a loan agreement with insurance values. If commercial, make a consignment with added prices. See here for more information on the difference. Make sure to get it signed by the exhibitor before transport.
Take pictures of the condition of the artwork(s) before transport.
Send out installation instructions if relevant.
Create an information file about the artworks in the exhibition.
Create a price list of the artworks in the exhibition (if commercial).
If you are a gallery artist, inform the gallery in time about the exhibition details and artworks. Send them a list of available artworks so they can already start working with this information.
Share an information file with your network: potential collectors, galleries, curators, press, etc.
Proofread texts accompanying the exhibition such as the press release, artwork labels, courtesy lines, etc.
If applicable, ask for condition report pictures when the artworks have arrived at the exhibition venue.
Don't hesitate proposing works when someone shows interest. Do it as fast as possible and get your proposal out.
Keep track of what you've sent and to whom. This information will be very valuable and useful for maintaining future professional relationships.
Register all sales details very carefully. Knowing your clients and their collections makes you a reliable partner.
Ask installation views. Don't forget the photo credits for these images.
Get an overview of all the works that need to be transported to your own storage, which ones should remain at the gallery and which ones should be delivered to collectors.
Check the condition of the artwork(s) upon return carefully. If there is any damage, report it immediately. Also register this for your own reference.
Register the new locations of the artworks carefully.
Register all people you were in contact with so you can reach out to them the next time you're having an exhibition or are participating in an art fair.
Send collectors all the correct and complete information about the work they've bought. It creates a professional relationship and will help them with cataloguing their collection.
We're convinced that following these tips will help you getting to that next level in your professional art career.
Author: Femke Cools, Co-founder and CEO Amyart.app