09/17/2010 05:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Getting Your Sh*t Together: Ask GYST (Keeping Track of Information for a Work of Art)

What are the basic pieces of information I should keep track of for each work of art I make and sell?
Kimberly B., Painter
Los Angeles, CA

It is vital for any artist to keep track of what is happening with their work, sold or not. I know a lot of artists depend on their dealers to keep track of everything, but I can't tell you how many times that a dealer has closed their gallery without telling their artists, or not given the artist all the information that they are legally required to share. And if you sell the work yourself or create work on a commission basis, you need to keep your own records. So whether you do it by hand, or use software, be sure to have the following information.

• title of the work
• date the work was created
• any collaborators
• how much it cost you to make the work
• the category of the work (painting, sculpture, installation)
• mediums used to make the work
• dimensions of the work, framed and unframed if applicable
• a tracking number (more on this in my next post)
• a description of the work
• if the work is signed and where
• whether the work is an edition and how many were made
• images of the work, both super high res, high res and low res (enough images to document all aspects of the work)
• any notes on the work that you feel are important to the work
• where the work has been shown (provenance/exhibition history)
• where the work is located (stored or at a gallery, or sold)
• the status of the work (available, sold, traded, not for sale, donated etc.)
• whose collection it is in
• how much the work sold for
• how much you were paid for the work
• whether you have been paid a percentage of the sale if the work is sold in California (in California, the California Resale Royalties Act stipulates that an artist who work is sold for a certain amount over the former sale, the artist is entitled to a percentage)
• a condition report on the artwork
• installation instructions to send out with the work
• a receipt of the sale of the work, with the name of the collector and all the sales details (by law each artist is entitled to this information)
• any sketches or drawings used to create the work
• any reviews or articles about the work
• any contracts or paperwork (for commissions, etc.)

Please send questions to for more information

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