Blog / 2020 / How To Love Your Art #9: Inventory Your Pieces

March 23, 2020

Today’s installation of the “how to love your art” blog series dovetails nicely with last week’s about documenting what you make.

In order to love your art, you need to be organized about keeping a record of what works you have created and where they have gone.

At first glance, this seems to be about not screwing over your future artist self, which means that it’s about believing in your future as an artist. After all, unless you’re pretty sure that five years from now you’ll need to know where some half-remembered some piece ended up, there might not seem to be much point in tracking your art.

But being organized about your output is more than a bet on your ability to keep creating. Inventorying your art translates the feelings you have for your work into action. When you keep a running list of basic info about each piece—title, date, medium, size, who owns it, and if it was a gift or a purchase—you are affirming that each artwork you catalog is worthwhile.

I learned the hard way just how import making this simple commitment to my art really is.

marker on paper tiger art
Gwenn Seemel
Tiger
2019
marker on paper
9 x 6 inches
(For prints and pretty things with this image, go to my print shop.)

I started my inventory in 2003, when I first began making my living as an artist. For the most part, I meticulously added every single artwork to the list as I made it, even including the month and day of completion.

Then, in 2011, when I started selling works on paper, I consciously chose to leave them off the list. I rationalized the decision by telling myself I was making too many to track and by pointing to how quickly I produced them. The truth was that I didn’t feel confident about my drawings, which is also why my early ones are on acidic office cardstock and why they sold for $5.

Recently, I went through the headache of adding my old drawings to my inventory. Going through sketchbooks, photo files, and income records to try to piece together when I made what wasn’t fun, but the new, more thorough list helps me feel that much more certain of my accomplishments.

woman breastfeeding her baby, acrylic and colored pencil art
Gwenn Seemel
Mother and Child
2019
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
9 x 9 inches
(You can commission your own portrait drawing.)

I know that the future feels increasingly scary with COVID-19 added on top of climate change dangers and 45’s penchant for ruining absolutely everything, but keeping a list of every artwork you make still matters. It may not fix all that’s wrong in the world, but it can be a part of cultivating your creative confidence, and a universe in which artists take up more space is automatically a better one.

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