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Feb 1, 2011

The Artist and the Programmer...

Okay, I've been AWOL from the blog as of late, and I admit it. My apologies. What with the holidays, and piled up paperwork, and plein air submissions I've been sending out into the void, or the never-ending necessities of life that continue to suck up so much time lately, I've had little opportunity to sit down and poke away at the keyboard.

Or muse about life, for that matter.

Plus, I have a secret little side project I've been hammering away at for the past month. A project I am now willing to make public even though it remains in the developmental stage. And you, who are reading my blog, may have the first sneak peak . . .

I've been trying my hand at programming a software application for artists. Yes, that's right. Me, an oil painter, coding an app . . .

Two months ago I realized I desperately needed a way to more efficiently track collectors, galleries, workshop folks, and, of course, any actual work I might have on-hand at any given time. Certainly more efficiently than how I've been doing it to date – which relies upon the "Hmmm, maybe it's in that pile over there" sort of filing system. Frankly, my wife throws her hands up in the air, turns on her heels and walks away quickly if I dare ask her to help me find something. Which ain't good.

So  a month ago I tried googling for something that might help. And found nothing that wouldn't take an inordinate amount of time to learn how to set up, use, or maintain. So I thought, "Fine, if I have to customize a solution for myself why not do it for other artists too, and put it out on the market for a decent price?" Why not indeed?

And that's what I've been up to as of late. Developing what I consider to be a 'stupid-simple' artist-focused tracking program which can easily show you who's been buying your work, and when they bought it, or, which galleries have which paintings on consignment, and how long they've had them, or, what paintings you squirreled away in the back of your art rack three years ago. Or closet. Or in your sister's basement. That kind of important information. Of course, my program can and will do more, but this will be the essence and beauty of the thing. And it will work identically on a Windows or an Apple platform. The same way a toaster works in a modern or period kitchen. Stupid-simple.

In fact, that's my overall design objective – to make my application stupid-simple to use. So simple even I will use it! (Cue my wife clapping in the background . . . )

I'd also like to offer it for less than the one lone crazy $1500.00 solution I found out there on the 'Net. $1500.00? Really? $1500.00?!! It should be an impulse buy. A low-risk purchase.

But I could use some help as I finish the app. I can make the program work sweet for me, and do everything I want it to do in the way I want it to work, but I'd prefer to incorporate ideas and methods from other folks who need the same thing. I'd like to create something that will work for us all. Stupid-simple but effective.

So here is my question: what would you like to see an artwork-tracking program do for you? What would you it to tell you? Perhaps things along the lines of, "This collector currently owns these six paintings, and bought one 24 months ago so maybe I should send him some images of my latest work?" or, 'This gallery had this painting on consignment for 8 months in 2010, so I'll send it to that gallery instead."

Stupid-simple things like that – without effort on your part to figure it out.

So hey, what are your suggestions? What would you like to know about your artwork, collectors, and galleries? Or for that matter, anything else regarding the cataloging and sales of your work?

Let me know and I will consider it building it into the app.


5 reader comments:

Brenda Boylan said...

You probably already thought of these things, but here's my suggestions: A thumbnail with dimensions, outer frame dimensions, medium, & retail price? Or client/gallery contact info? Year created?

Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Thanks, Brenda. All terrific suggestions. And one I hadn't considered is your image size + Framewidth. So I'll give that some serious thought...

You are exactly the kind of artist I think this program is for so if you think of anything else let me know!


Brenda Boylan said...

T--I still think you could market your wet canvas box! :) Funny, I bought an art program last year (Flick)...promised myself I'd learn it and fill in aaaall of my work form past to present. Have I done it yet? Nope!
I'd be curious how you've made this program navigate.

Celeste Bergin said...

Here is the Studio software I would buy (at $795 plus extra software to run it on a Mac)--but it is really way more than I need:


Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Brenda: I have a copy of Flick and I thought it was a good step in a decent direction, but didn't find it relating some information I think is important. Or, as intuitive as I hoped due to it's design metaphor. (I considered choosing Flick before deciding to create my own solution. But there are a few things Flick does well, and I need to give what those are some serious thought.

Art System may be comprehensive, even exhaustive, but I find its interface to be quite off-putting, and I am not trying to develop something as complicated. At some point complication negates usability, or features go un-used, and of course, I think a $795 sticker price is way off target for the artist-crowd. My solution will fit into the impulse-buy category and offer a lot of satisfaction for the buck.

In the end, what we artists need to know is pretty straight-forward. Who has our artwork? Who are our buyers? And, what art do we have on-hand to sell? So combining an easy-to-use addressbook with a simple inventory system which produces a the kind of reports we need is a good solution. And if any database becomes noxious to maintain then it also becomes useless.

I promise when you see what I am doing you'll realize you can sit down and immediately put it to use. My goal is to create something that doesn't require a manual, and little effort thought on the part of the user.

A tall order, I know, but there you have it.

I've got the core functions worked out and now I'm refining the details.

So specifically, what features do you two artists dream of having at your finger tips...?