Why Should I Archive My Art?

Library and Archives Canada, image courtesy of MONTEL storage system at www.montel.com

Seriously—you’re an artist, not a gallerist or a museum curator. You’re here to create pieces that have meaning to you and that can communicate what you want to say to the world. You’re in it for the tubes of oil paints and watercolors, the charcoals, the pencils, the inks, the canvases, the collage, the clay, the metal, the film, the performance—the messy act of creation. What use do you have for files and records and index cards? If you wanted to deal with that, you would have become an accountant. So, what’s the deal? Why bother archiving?

An archive is a comprehensive record of the art you create. Depending on the type of art, that may include photos, videos, written descriptions, and other types of records. It also includes all the important information about your art—the materials, the date, the title, etc. Archives used to be actual paper records, but today you can do it all digitally. Sure, it’s not creating art. However, creating an archive is a way to preserve your work for yourself, share it with the community, and organize it for your professional ventures.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com archive.

Why You Need Digital Storage For Your Art

Creating art is an intensely personal experience. You’re taking something from inside you and giving it life in the outside world. That’s valuable—and you don’t want to lose it. Whether you create one piece every few years or several pieces every day, you might misplace something you created or even forget about it.

You see where we’re going with this—the solution is to archive your art. Keep a record of all the important information about each work of art you create. That way you’ll know what you’ve done and where you put it. You’ll also have a chronological record so you can observe your own changing (or unchanging) style over the years. And archiving isn’t just for visual art—you can keep a record of your performance art so you can revisit it years later.

Artist Theodora Pica’s studio | Image source: teodoraartgallery.com

Archiving Your Art Preserves It For Others

Do you have fans? Maybe you’re not quite as well-known as Picasso, but chances are there are people who care about your work. They may be friends, family members, teachers or mentors. You may have fans you don’t even know about who saw some of your work and were touched, inspired or intrigued. There are people who want to see what you create—how can they do it?

Again, you know where this is going. By archiving your art, you create a comprehensive record of your work in one place. That preserves your work and its value, both for you and for the other people who love it. Thanks to the tools available in the digital age, archiving your art also has an additional benefit—you can put your archive online and share it with the world. You can give like-minded peers, fans, and the broader art community access to view and connect with your work from wherever they are. They get the chance to explore your whole body of work and you get the chance to share that work with people who appreciate it.

Archiving Art Has Professional Benefits

Why do we make art? That’s a complicated question, and the answer for most people probably isn’t, “to sell it.” That said, you still have rent to pay and groceries to buy. Wouldn’t it be incredible to do what you love for a living and not need a day job? Here’s the thing—it’s going to be very tough to get there by selling off single pieces. You need to show a coherent portfolio at galleries, museums, art fairs, and other art events.

To do that, you’ll need an archive. Put all of your work in one place with all of the relevant information about each piece. When it comes time to go to an event, it will be easy to put together a portfolio of the best works for that audience. Now, archiving your art isn’t going to guarantee you an art-related income. However, it will make it a lot easier to take advantage of that kind of opportunity when it arises.

I’m Ready To Archive My Art, So How Do I Do It?

Glad you asked! Once upon a time, archiving art meant creating and organizing your records by hand. That’s obviously a huge pain, especially if you need to create more than a couple of records. The good news is that we’re living in the future. Do you have a computer or a cell phone? Terrific. You’re ready to go. Here’s what you do:

Look at the top left part of this page. See where it says ARTDEX Site? Great. You’re going to click on that and make yourself an account. Next, you’re going to take pictures of all of your art and upload them to your shiny new ARTDEX account. Add in the relevant information, and voila! Your very own archive. That was the hard part—now you can just add each piece as you finish it.

Better still, because this is, after all, the future: this isn’t just any old archive. This archive is social. ARTDEX members all over the world can see your work and interact with you—and you can do the same for them! The Internet is a many-splendored thing. So, for that matter, is your archive. What are you waiting for? Get to it!


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