Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Revolutionary System

Index Cards, File Dividers and a Plastic Box

Recently I wrote about issues relating to the complexity of preparing show entries and found that many of you share my feelings about the process. One of the issues I did not touch on is how I plan my entries so I thought I would share just a bit about that.

The first year (about 4 years ago) that I decided to enter multiple shows, the scene in my studio was total confusion as I prepared by entries. I had not been keeping an inventory so I did not have a listing of when I made a specific work, it's title, it's size, a price list or anything else. I simply had work. No images either.

I began to review the information for each of the shows I planned to enter and was immediately confronted with conflicting dates, overlapping dates and all the issues about formating images etc. Fortunately my photographer is also my husband, Tom, and he kindly stepped in and we got the work photographed, CD's made and shipped and I only messed-up one entry (that I know of) and that venue allowed me to just re-submit.....if they are reading this, Thank You! (I had listed one work and sent an image of a different work.)

From that point I realized that I needed an inventory, ongoing photography and some way to track where the work was entered, if it was accepted, and when it needed to be shipped and returned. I looked a many software programs to see if any would satisfy my needs and while many had very good features I ultimately came up with a "Mixed" system designed by Terry.

So here's what I do.

  • I have a folder marked: Prospectus. I download and print information and forms for any show I think I might like to enter. The hard copy goes in the folder and I save a digital copy in a digital Prospectus folder.

  • I have an index card for each piece On this card I note the title, date of completion, size, processes and materials used and price. I list any show in which the piece is entered, acceptance or rejection, date work is to be shipped and returned...I love being able to look through my box and find that information.

  • I make a card for each show I enter and list the entries on that card and what is accepted or rejected. This is very helpful in succeeding years to see what was entered. I also note if the work sells. This is also posted on my Digital Inventory.

  • I keep and dated Digital Inventory with title, date, size and price. I try to keep this up to date and delete old inventories as I make changes.

  • In my personal datebook I note when work needs to be shippped and dates for openings.

  • I keep a large notebook which contains cover sheets for each individual show. As I enter shows, I store the printed prospectus and a copy of the entry form along with shipping forms etc. in that sleeve. At the end of the year I can clearly see what I have done and have everything for each show in one place.

Now when I plan my entries, I first read the material and think about what I have that will be approporiate for a specific show. I begin by viewing my digital images. I then pull the card for each work that I choose and move on from there. If I need to cross-reference dates I pull the prospectus. It seems to be working.

I am not a Luddite. I love my Mac and all the things I can do with it, but I like the physical world of an index card, a notebook, and a folder. For now it seems to be working.

Thank you for spending time at Studio 24-7. Commenting is FREE and I love hearing from you!


  1. I do a similar exercise, but with a form that I have devised on my computer. It certainly saves a lot of time and confusion. The one thing I often forget to do though, is record achievements on my CV. If I did this regularly I would not need to scramble back and find / enter the information before submitting it!

  2. I'm the same Diana! Too funny. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Nice system Terry. Thank you for sharing. If I ever get to the point where I'm entering shows, I think I'll have to adopt a bit of your technique.
    I am almost completely digital, but I do like the idea of referring to a nice white index card.

  4. Hey Girl! Suppose in this area I'm real retro. Happy to share my "system".

  5. Thank you so much for posting this advice! I truly love all my digital helpers, but recently I had to admit when it comes to planning and coping with everyday life - I am a paper girl. So if you don't mind, I'll be a copy cat and give your system a try ;-))

  6. Hi quiltthexle! Be my guest! I'm sure over time you will find some things work for you while others may not. The important thing is your being able to have the information you need When you need it. My best and thank you for commenting.

  7. here's my system. I stole it from someone on the Quilt Art list (sorry, I can't remember your name but YOU are wonderful!!!!). I use ical on my mac. I have color coded folders by category: (Art Retreats and classes, Business Accounting (read taxes), show notifications, Submission deadlines. Each entry has a notes section and a place for links. I also have visual and audio alerts set to remind myself of upcoming deadlines AND I sync my computer with my iphone so that my tasks are at my finger tips. I print out hard copies and add checklists to post in my studio. Everyday when I walk in I know what I have to do. I love hearing how other artists order their worlds. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you Deborah! I'm going to look at that as it sounds interesting. It really is very personal.