Get SmartDecember 15th, 2011
ArtSmart has launched. What does this mean for you? If you’re an artist, studio manager, gallerist, or collector, then you have a new way to run your shop efficiently. “The goal of ArtSmart is to give artists, galleries or collectors a way to see their entire business/studio/collection in its entirety,” says founder Amy Davila, a former international tax consultant at Ernst & Young and Director at David Zwirner Gallery.
ArtSmart ($29.99/month) is a cloud-based wonder that wrangles inventory, accounting, correspondence, scheduling, and storage into one friendly interface. ArtSmart was developed by Founder & CEO Amy Davila, Co-founder & CTO Jeremy Stanton, and Co-owner & Application Designer Anne Swett-Predock.
Now based in Los Angeles, Davila also runs Gallerella, a pragmatic blog for artists entering the art world. For emerging or reemerging artists, Gallerella might justify the logical leap to ArtSmart. Many artists, even those established, sheepishly identify themselves as “bad business people,” despite actually being small business owners. ArtSmart relieves that “bad business” condition by unburdening them of cataloguing and accounting rituals. This gives artists more time for schmoozing – or bad behavior – at parties, and to calculate ways a new espresso maker can be tax deductible. And though ArtSmart should work for galleries and collectors, I can assess it only as an artist.
I tried the ArtSmart application myself. Through the beta and demo versions available on the ArtSmart website, I got started with Contacts and Inventory. Simple enough: after entering contact information, I “tag” the contact by Contact Type: artist, art fair, collector, museum, press, or vendor contact. Most of this info then appears as a list in table view. You can add Contact types by clicking “Admin.” (That way, you don’t leave out “Muse,” “Nemesis,” and “Sallie Mae.”)
Inventory is easy, too. The “Add Inventory” button opens a new window that seems ready to accommodate any kind of artwork. Users can add and update material information, multiple images, activity (loans, consignment), and “other info.” “Other info” includes provenance, exhibition history, literature, installation notes, condition reports, restoration guidelines, and more. Rich formatting allows for bullet points, italicizing, and other typological hierarchies. As in the Contacts feature, the main Inventory info appears in a table view, which includes a thumbnail image of the work. The user can sort the table by status, title, date, price, medium, and scale. This helps if, for example, a collector asks about something specific, such as gouache works on paper.
All of this is tremendously helpful. Still, a few updates will make ArtSmart even more successful. For starters, users currently have to enter Contacts individually. There is no way to bulk-import contacts. Also, users eventually will need to multiple-sort, or filter, the table views of Contacts and Inventory. Then, the aforementioned collector could look at a filtered list of gouache drawings from a specific date, of a precise scale, and under a certain price point.
ArtSmart is already on it. By late January, Davila tells me, users will be able to import multiple Contacts and Inventory records from Microsoft Excel. Multiple-sort functionality will follow with Phase 2 of ArtSmart, due in spring. The aforementioned Phase 2 will also bring unlimited file storage. Unlimited? According to Amy Davila:
“You will be able to store any type of file. ArtSmart would function like a server where users could upload and download…organizing where things are and how they reference certain records. For instance, if you had a script that went along with a video work, you could have the video as a record in your inventory, and then you could attach the script as a Word doc or pdf to that record. Another example would be a bill of lading from a shipper: you could attach it to a record to immediately find and retrieve how and when the artwork was shipped.”
Other features still to come include a Centralized Calendar, check printing, and mass emailing.
For many artists, “getting organized” is an uphill battle, a flight of fantasy. Applying for grants and residencies can help artists get it together, as can doing online artist registries, such as White Columns and The Drawing Center. These activities have the added benefit of keeping artists organized, but registries are for curators, and applications for program directors. They don’t ask about availability, pricing, nor technical notes. ArtSmart’s application brings it all together. It enables the user to identify essential administrative information, then bind it with images. ArtSmart also encourages an artist to round up Contacts for correspondence and spreading-the-word. And managing your own database feels damn good. ArtSmart helps the artist turn over a new leaf. Just in time for the New Year.
*A discount version ($19.99/month) of ArtSmart is available to students. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the coupon code!