Over the past couple of years I've looked at and played with a lot of computer programs for keeping track of artwork.
Here are past blog posts on the subject:
Art Inventory Systems, here's what I've tried
and then this
Update on Art Inventory Systems
Alyson Stanfield has also written about this riveting subject on her great blog here.
I come to these systems with built-in bias. I prefer a FileMaker based system to an Access based system because I think it's a more powerful and smoother software to use. I'd worked for a nonprofit that used Filemaker and it's what I know. I also prefer a system without goofy graphics. I'm an artist. I care how things look. If I open up software every couple of days I would like it to be clean and simple and not ugly.
But computers evolve and the next direction is to the cloud. That is a system where software doesn't live on your computer but you access it via the internet. I operate on 3 devices: my iMac in my office, a little Macbook Air for travel (and I do move around a lot) and my iPhone. My art files are now in Dropbox so I can get access to them wherever I am. But my current art inventory system is software based, and on my iMac so unfortunately if I'm elsewhere I can't open it up.
This past month I've been trying out a new art inventory system: The Artwork Archive. For full disclosure, the developer contacted me and asked me to try it out. He was kind enough to give me a year for free so that I could really experiment. And because I have lots of opinions about things I sent him suggestions.
All the art inventory programs allow you to put images in and add prices and titles and information. I think nearly all track the provenance of the piece. But after that there's some fall-off. I think systems should track what you have in each gallery so you can pull that list up with a click - but not all of them do a good job at that. Most seem to do better at tracking shows that you put together, which is helpful when you do a lot of shows and fairs. Less helpful when your work is primarily in galleries.
Of the software I've seen I prefer eArtist, which I've been using (even though it doesn't have a good gallery inventory system), and GYST, because they seem to work hard at keeping it up to date.
But software is old school and I'm switching to the cloud. Over the next month I'll migrate my inventory to The Artwork Archive.
The Artwork Archive
Here's a snapshot of my experiment with The Artwork Archive. I entered paintings that were going to my last show to see how it worked and if it could export the kinds of lists I want. It did great. Below is an image of my inventory page so you can see how it looks:
It also generates a great consignment report for galleries or shows (a show is called a gallery, FYI, it worked fine.) It's easy to return work that was in the gallery to your inventory. It seems to do a good job at tracking contacts and sales. And a fun feature is 'reports'. Similar to your home financial system, it generates bar charts and pie charts of your inventory, sales, location and value. Cool.