On a regular basis you have to keep your art images organized in your computer for quick access and to ensure that you are backing up all files of your art. Here are a few quick tips to help you tackle what may have become a bit of an artist's computer disaster.
1. Organize by Year : Create folders for your work by year which you can then organize into sub-folders for different series and projects.
2. Within Year Organize by Name of Series or Project: if you can't do this for some reason then you might consider organizing by other categories ie. Landscape Folder, Portrait Folder, Work on Paper Folder etcetera. These subfolders will live in the yearly folders for better organization or else they can become too large over time, as in, too many images in each folder so it takes to long to find what you are looking for.
3. Within A Series Folder Have Subfolders: If you have a set of photographs that were inspiration for a series then you may want to create a folder for these within the folder for that series. For example, if the folder for this series is called Red Landscapes then you put a folder inside it that is called Photo References for Red Landscapes. Be very clear when labelling these folders, like in my examples, otherwise things can get lost or folders become dumping grounds for everything because the categories you are creating aren't clear enough.
4. Subfolders for Different Image Sizes: Within your series folder (and let's stay with the previous example) Red Landscapes you'll want to keep two folders of your images - one with all of your images from that series as large files called Red Landscapes Large Files and another with the small jpegs of each of these images called Red Landscapes Small Files. What this means to your efficentcy is that you can easily/confidently attached small files to emails for interested clients or transfer large files to magazines or printers.
5. Titling Files for Best Accuracy: Title your files with the following info...
Title of Work
Your last name
If the file is large or small
If the File is a detail
If you title your files in the same way like this all the time then you will have an easier time finding it if you misfile it in the wrong folder because you'll be able to guess the exact title and bring it up with the search function of your computer super easily.
6. Back it Up: Backing up your entire computer is a great thing to do but now that your files are so super organized you can easily back up just the files for your art on a regular basis which is very, very important for artists. Once your work is sold these images may be your only images of this art so your have to protect them and makes sure that as new work is documented you are also organizing it and refreshing your back up system.
Now the challenge only lies in making time for this task which should be done as you add files and overhauled every month or two to ensure that your not collecting clutter!