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Budgeting for your Artwork Inventory

Left: Two people crouch on the floor as they work on building wooden storage. Right: Metal utility shelves hold rolled canvases in styrofoam cradles, in front of vertical wooden shelves with wrapped canvases on stretchers.
Building storage in Joe Overstreet’s studio, 2017. Photo by Joan Mitchell Foundation staff.

No matter what career stage you’re in, as you identify goals for your artwork inventory and studio organization, you’ll likely have some costs associated with this process. Those costs fall into a few major categories: Space, Records, People, and Time.

In the Foundation’s free resource guide, Career Documentation for the Visual Artist, financial advisor Elaine Grogan Luttrull shares concrete budgeting strategies for artists looking to implement or expand their inventory system.

Elaine provides worksheets and examples to walk you through each potential expense category so that you can begin building a budget to support these costs. She writes, “Some of these categories might fit your situation perfectly. You may find yourself skipping other categories entirely. You get to decide what makes the most sense for you, especially given where you are in your career and what stage your records are in.

“Each category is set up so you can brainstorm (in words) first, then estimate the costs associated with the words you listed. Think about both one-time costs (costs you will only have once, perhaps to purchase equipment) and ongoing costs (costs that you will incur on a regular basis, perhaps once per month or once per year).

“If you are feeling stuck in a particular category, there are examples that might prompt your own ideas, but don’t feel bound by the examples. After all, you know yourself and your work best.”

Download fillable worksheets that calculate projected inventorying costs for you, along with the full Career Documentation guide below.

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Professional Practice