In Conversation with Justin Anthony of Artwork Archive
At stARTup we’re constantly looking for ways to improve life and business for artists. And we’re proud to connect and partner with dynamic brands that share our commitment to supporting artists succeed and navigate the complexities of the ever-changing artworld.
We especially admire brands that offer services or products that enhance artists’ professional experience with collectors and galleries.
This week our team spoke with Artwork Archive, an innovative art business management software brand founded by John Feustel and Justin Anthony, based in Denver, CO. This cloud-based art database system offers a wide range of easy to use tools. From inventory and contact management, to sales reports and expense tracking, there is literally nothing that Artwork Archive doesn’t provide artists — so that they can spend more time working on their vision.
Taking a deep breath before stARTup San Francisco begins, Fair Director Ray Beldner spoke with Co-Founder Justin Anthony to learn more about Artwork Archive.
Before artists had access to Artwork Archive’s one-stop for cataloging, invoicing, expensing and inventory reporting what were artists doing in the past?
It was a real challenge at that time to find any sort of comprehensive solution. The existing solutions were either repurposed spreadsheets with very few features custom tailored to meet the needs of an artist, or were very limited and required artists to use several different programs to accomplish their goals. As a result, many artists simply chose to avoid the organization and management aspects of their business altogether.
How do you design your software features? Do you do market research to find out which features are the most in demand?
We have always had a customer-driven approach to design. In the early days, we were able to do this in-person with groups of artists (and some wine) to encourage the flow of information. As we've grown, we've now developed more sophisticated means of gathering feedback without losing those personal interactions. Every member of the Artwork Archive team is required to do customer support each day, and we meet weekly to discuss customer feedback. That feedback and those discussions help define our product roadmap and establish what our priorities are. We attribute our growth and customer satisfaction to this approach.
Why is it important for artists and collectors to start moving their collections to cloud-based data systems? What about for collectors and organizations?
While there are multiple benefits from a data security and data integrity standpoint (not the least of them being the fact that you never have to worry about losing your data again), I think the number one reason is the flexibility and accessibility that comes with it. For an artist, being able to access and present your information anywhere from any device is a huge advantage.
For a collector or organization, the limitations of "download only" programs are far too great. Not only do they make it nearly impossible to collaborate with other members of the collection management team, but they also pose nearly constant issues when it comes with keeping the data in sync if there are multiple people accessing the system.
And whether you’re an artist, collector, or organization, the cloud gives us the ability to constantly innovate and improve the system seamlessly without any interruption.
What are some of the major challenges artists, collectors and institutions come to you with? What are your solutions?
For artists, the most common challenge we run into is the overwhelming barrage of options that are out there. As an artist, you need to be an entrepreneur, marketing professional, web designer and an accountant... all while continuing to create! That's a lot of hats to wear, and it's hard to find a solution that can help you get organized and manage your business so you can spend time doing what you really love.
For collectors and organizations, the challenge has more to do with the limited amount of viable options. Most of the collection management options out there are either out of date, overly complex, and/or out of budget. A professional robust solution shouldn't have to come at the cost of ease of use or be prohibitively expensive. And it is that ease of use, ease of sharing, and ease of collaboration that has brought so many people to our platform.
How do your tools streamline preparation for or wrapping up exhibitions, or approaching new galleries?
Artwork Archive's tools allow artists to easily categorize and present their work to galleries for upcoming exhibitions. Artists can assign works to upcoming exhibitions to ensure that they don't double book a painting or sculpture (this happens more than you would think!) and get an overview of their upcoming commitments. They can also generate exhibition or consignment reports to hand off to the gallerist. This is a generated PDF report with a thumbnail list of the works being dropped off with all the corresponding details of the work along with gallery labels attached to the backs of your works. These reports make it easy for the gallery to ensure that all the information like pricing, title, dimension, and materials are correct. It also ensures that the artist is keeping track of the work as well.
You might be surprised at how often artists "forget" that they have a specific artwork at a specific location! At a certain point, it just becomes too much to keep track of on your own. Our goal is to take that mental burden off artists so that they can focus on creating artwork.
As for approaching galleries, again, these one-click reports are a great way to easily present work that would be relevant to a gallery's aesthetic and scope. Say you were in a juried show that the gallery put on and they are interested in additional similar works. Within a few clicks, you can create a catalog of works that would work for the gallery. Instead of sending an email with a bunch of attachments, you have a clean presentation to set you apart from the crowd and establish that you are professional and easy to work with.
How does the cost of your service compare to other companies?
We made a very conscious decision early on to make our product accessible. Artwork Archive is a privately owned company with no third-party affiliations or investors pushing us to constantly ratchet up pricing. We know that not all artists are in the same place in their career and want to provide options that work for any age and any stage. Similarly, we know that not all collectors or organizations need all we have to offer in our Enterprise versions and we have options that cost as little as $6 per month.
Artwork Archive provides artists, collectors and organizations powerful tools to manage their artwork, career or collection. Grow your career or protect your collection with the right plan for you!
Artists: applications are open for stARTup Small Works 2019. Artists selected by the jury will get a table to display their small-scale art.