Artists, get organized now and so you can thank yourself later.
I stumbled upon Career Documentation for the Visual Artist: An Archive Planning Workbook and Resource Guide (7MB) from the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) program. It’s a thorough introduction and guide for artists for creating physical and digital archives. I highly recommend artists take a look. It’s a worthwhile thing to get organized, maintain an inventory system, and make sure your work is stored safely.
I have a few systems set up, but could use improvement. I’ve adopted practices as I see how they make sense for where I’m at. But I should be thinking about what I’ll need in the future. For example, CALL recommends signing and writing an inventory number on every work of art. I have an aversion to signing my art, but will try to create ways to at least make sure my work is labeled somehow. They also suggest including your initials in your inventory number, which makes sense for galleries that work with multiple artists, but seems overmuch for my own work. Then again, my signature is inscrutable, so I suppose initials will help others.
I recently revisited my one-year goals, and wrote new ones. (I started this practice in June a few years ago, so my “goal-year” begins and ends in the summer. It’s anachronistic, but increasingly feels right to me. Since moving to NYC, my life has become more affected by the rhythm of art “seasons”—intensive fall and spring activity, followed by slower summers. The relaxed pace in June and July offers a chance to get perspective. I feel more confident entering fall with fresh energy, and having a sense of purpose in the spring. My new year’s resolutions are more like mid-year reviews, where I check my progress or modify goals if necessary.)
It was useful to see these reminders about how to write goals in the CALL workbook:
S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-realistic, T-timely.
- Specific goals depend on who, what, where, when, which, and why.
- Measurable is accountability and tracking progress.
- Attainable is a goal that motivates you towards achievement.
- Realistic is a goal within your current abilities.
- Timely is a goal with a time frame.
- Make all goals concrete.
- Make the goal something you can clearly state in one sentence.
- Make a clear end point. The accomplishment of the goal should be definite and visible.
- Make sure the goal is something you can complete—factor in time and space restrictions.
- Set a realistic date for completing your goal.
It is worth pointing out that this comes from an artist’s foundation—an example of an artist (or her legacy) occupying multiple roles within art ecologies. It’s a great example of what artists (or their executors) can give to other artists. Thanks Joan Mitchell Foundation!
One thought on “Artist’s Resource: Creating a Living Legacy”
Hi Christine, Thanks for sharing this information. I’m a landscape painter creating many paintings a year- I have been tracking some of my work using artworkarchive.com software in the cloud, and it is fairly user friendly. I need to find a way to back up all my digital images though more carefully and in an organized way. Best, Matthew Lee http://matthewleestudio.com For a good solution on storing paintings look up “art storage rack easy to build” you can see a solution I came up with a few years ago now, and am still using.