September 10, 2014


944_How to Simply Keep Your Art Organized Part Two

Last week in a prior blog post I explained several helpful benefits to using unique four digit ID#s to label your art. Here are 3 more.

Finding, Seeing and Naming Digital Files Better

When you nest dozens of folders all named with unique ID#s on your hard drive, your computer will automatically order them sequentially. This is a tremendous help. Having your artwork arranged in a folder in the order it was made allows you to clearly see and find and piece of art you have made, even if it was 3 years ago.

It is crucial to always include the ID# in the file name of your image.

Here is how I name my folders:

I have one folder called Master Images. Within this folder I have dozens of folders, 4001 Master File, 4002 Master File, 4003 Master File, etc. Within each of these folders I keep all derivations of that image.

For example, I will have 4000.raw, this is the biggest unadjusted file I have of the image. 4000_adj.tif is the biggest adjusted file I have, 4000_10x10_300dpi.tif is a reproduction file I might have created. 4000_web.jpg is what I use on the web.

Of course you can name any file your own particular way, but the important thing is that ALL variations of that image are in one folder, one place and easily found.

Makes it easier for someone to help you.

This might be the primary reason you want to start codifying your creative journey with ID#s. Being able to hand someone a list of 57 paintings with instructions to modify or email 26 of them to two different places is very easy if all these artworks are listed numerically. Want to have your assistant take down 7 images and put up 4 in a specific number on your website? The instructions for this potentially confusing task can be done with image ID#s on a post it note. You might get an email from a collector or a gallery who are asking for a high-resolution file of a certain blue painting. You might remember which painting this is, but if someone is helping you they soon learn to simply ask for the ID# right below the painting on the website. Once verified they can feel confident finding it on the computer and then can email it. Not only was this task done quickly and correctly but more importantly it was done without involving you.

Understand your Creative Arc Better

When I get stuck or disillusioned with my Art, I find it incredibly helpful to go back in time and look at everything I have made in the past couple of years. The automatic ordering of image numbers in folders makes this super easy.

Being able to go through the past 3 years of my artwork in the order it was made in about 10 minutes is unbelievably informing. It is the momentum, the trail of finished work that has been left behind you that forecasts, informs where you are heading. The visual history of your creative past is your unique touchstone. It silently champions your individuality, your hard won authenticity. It is a key component to making amazing potent work in the future.

It also doesn’t take long for me to start appreciating and really seeing how far I have come, how much my work has improved and to re remember my inspiration.

There are way too many negative forces that lower our energy or expectations about what we are creatively capable of accomplishing. Therefore, it is essential to set in place as many systems or practices that can clarify and re galvanize our artistic resolve. Being organized so that you can gain objectivity of your entire creative arc over time is one of them.

Organizing my artwork using ID#s, in addition to titling, has dramatically saved me time and has helped keep my momentum going. I hope there are aspects of this idea that you can utilize for your career too.

What are some of the ways that you keep your Artwork organized? Please leave your comments below so we can learn from each other.

Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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