Taking Stock: Art Inventory Count

Illustration of hand with pen with text INVENORY

Tax time is approaching and so we will be comparing our art sales income to that of previous years. Many artists look at their annual income but how many of us are breaking down the data to really pin point whats going on and without that specific data how can we really understand our successes? The word accounting makes us weak in the knees. You know what term I really love? Crunching numbers. Don't get me wrong I have no love for math class. But I do love to add and subtract and find out what's really happening. Here are some ways that you can look at gathering data from your current situation. Art inventory count! 


Step 1.

Go through your studio and assess how much work is in there ( finished work) and make a list.

I like to break this list into types of work I might be doing:



Work on Paper - 6 items available/unsold

Work on Canvas - 10 items available/unsold


Within each of these categories I'd recommend that you break it down further. For example, because I work in different sizes, collecting the data to take note of this helps me see trends:



Works on paper under 8 x 10: 4 items unsold (total $575 in stock)

Iceberg with sunset    5" x 7"  $200

Iceberg with Palm Trees  3" x 4" $125

Strangers in Paradise  3" x 4" $125

Birds of a Feather  3" x 4" $125


Works on paper 8 x 10 and over: 2 items unsold (total $600 in stock)

Monochrome Iceberg #1 8"x10" $300

Two Icebergs 8" x 10" $300


Step 2.


Go back over the past 6 months or year and make a list of items sold in each of these categories, adding this data into your list (s). I've added this in italics. This info below is just made up as an example of how this might look.



Artworks on paper under 8 x 10: 

Iceberg with sunset    5" x 7"  $200

Iceberg with Palm Trees  3" x 4" $125

Strangers in Paradise  3" x 4" $125

Birds of a Feather  3" x 4" $125

(4 items unsold; total $575 in stock)

 May flowers 3" x 3" $125

Burnt Orange Sunset 3" x 3" $125

Further 3" x 3" $125

Two Birds 3" x 3" $125

(4 items sold; $500 in stock)

Now with all of your lists from your art inventory count you can see where you have made sales and where your sales are missing over the past 6 months or year. This data can help you make many decisions, changes or help you take a moment to see the fruit of your labour. You may choose to change your marketing to focus on some of your work that hasn't been properly marketed. If so you at least have numbers to begin measuring against to check your progress. Also, if this data was real then the artist would have $500 of stock in the studio from the category of "artwork on paper under 8x10" alone - time to convert that into cash! They might post it on social media, arrange some studio visits or a studio sale. 


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Written by: rebecca chaperon
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