...serenity in motion

Document Everything You Do

Document Everything You Do.

Provenance is a word spoken with reverent tones when it comes to collectables and art, it is one of the things that will actually build value as artwork stands the test of time.  Provenance is defined in several ways but the one I am most concerned with is this; “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality”.  You can have the most amazing piece of art but unless you can prove or find documented history, most of its value becomes strictly intrinsic to those who like it. The other way to say it is, it is only worth what someone will pay.  It doesn’t matter that you have found a lost Monet in your grandmother’s garage, unless you can prove it was painted by him through documentation; it could be considered a forgery. 

An artist in the 20th century needs to take the extra step to photograph and record anything and everything they have done.  It is best if you can have good quality photos done of your work and with digital cameras now, it isn’t that hard to do it yourself.  For bigger pieces, look for someone you can trust to do it and save the file in such a way that it is a true representation of the colors in your work.  The Cloud is helpful in keeping these files so they don’t disappear if your computer crashes.  Pictures, however; aren’t enough to keep a record.  You need adequate inventory records as well. 

Figure out a simple way to record your title, date it was done, size and medium.  It is pretty simple for me, I only work in one medium (for now).  I used to just write down these details and enter them into an excel file until one day, I found I had used the same title on the same sized piece.  I then came up with a way to keep track of my pieces by creating a unique inventory number.  I take the first letters from the title; Rising Tide becomes RT; the subject, waterscape or WS; the date, December 2020 (12/20); and finally the size 8x10 and put them all together.  RT*WS*12/20*8x10, it no longer matters if I used the same title 2 years ago, the inventory will be different by the dates alone.

I also signed up for a program that keeps my inventory for me.  It comes with an added bonus of a calendar, a mailing list and a page that interested collectors can access.  I can decide if I want an inventory entry to made public or not as well.

I now always take a photo of my piece before it comes off of the easel, I then put the inventory number with the title on the back along with my logo.  I do not frame, shrinkwrap, package or mount anything before I have completed these tasks.  Start by making it a habit now.  It doesn’t matter how many or few pieces you do a year, Document, DOCUMENT, document.  It is a time investment for you and your collectors in the future.  If it makes you feel pretentious, don’t worry about it.  The only one who is going to use that is you for now.  This is an investment in your art.  You never know if it will have a future but if you don’t take steps now, you will be robbing it of any chances it may ever have.