Contact Management Software for Artists

In the many years since I first wrote this post, options for artist software have come and gone.
These days  most of my clients are using the cloud-based Artwork Archive for their art inventory and contacts (buyers, collectors, prospect). It's a great company that is responsive to artists' needs. ‘
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66 thoughts on “Contact Management Software for Artists”

  1. I’ve just begun using Bento for Mac. I designed my own database from looking at templates of other artist’s databases. It was really simple to use once you got the hang of it.
    Right now I’m using it for my inventory of photographs and which venues they are in and also for customer management. For a single user it is a very good price at $60.

  2. Wonderful info! I am still “storing” info the old-fashioned way: writting it in a notebook (the paper kind). Guess it’s time for me to step into the 21st century with this as well. Thanks Alyson!

    1. Alyson’s “Cultivate Collectors” is an amazing class for more information on this..

    1. Paula,
      Yes the price difference is high ….
      I have Flick and I am not at all happy. The software is not at all user friendly. The system hangs if you leave it idle for more than 5 mins.
      There is practically nothing in their “Help” section, just a one liner mentioning the feature, nothing more on how to use it.
      Their customer support too is very slow, send a query and forget about it for the next 2 months.
      For now yes..I have everything in one place and am able to add information. But not sure how else it will be helpful..
      I am thinking of eArtist it seems more update..

  3. Thanks for this. I downloaded Flick a while ago and am still getting to grips with the software. Quite like it although it can take an age to change data screens sometimes. I love that you can print a list of works of with images. Helps so much with consignment notes!
    Just one question.
    I do regular backups but it’s on the same folder/computer. Do you know how I can change the settings so I can backup onto an external hard-drive as well?

  4. Timely as I just spent all morning entering paintings into my eArtist inventory! I absolutely love eArtist and use it for inventoring paintings, invoicing and keeping a client database (you can use it for other things as well, but I haven’t gotten there yet). You can try it free for a month to see if it works for what you need. I use FASO for my website, which comes with email newsletter software- it manages everything and I can track statistics about who is reading the newsletter, etc. I also love that, it’s dummy friendly and therefore not time consuming, important!
    This is just my 2 cents if anyone is looking into or trying to figure out which system to use. (I’m a PC user)

    1. Hi Kelly, I am so glad to find a warm body who loves eArtist. I took the Cultivating Collectors and bought it because of the recommendations. I love what it promises to be able to do. I am struggling with the constituents database, trying to sync fields so I can import and export contact lists using excel a nd then do group emails. Is that something you do? I have never been able to get a response for technical assistance, either from email or phone. Last week, the phone number had a message says it’s been disconnected. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!! Jane

  5. I bought “Art Tracker” from Jason Horejs, Owner of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ for $45. It’s a MAC/PC software used for tracking your art inventory as well as your client/customer list and many other things. I’m just starting to use it, but find it very user friendly.

  6. Jennie Rosenbaum

    I’ve been using flick for years now and through several versions. It works well for tracking, for exhibitions, printing lists, portfolio pages and more. Unfortunately there is a lot of double handling when putting together exhibition lists. I would like to be able to create an exhibition, list what pieces are in it then have that exhibition appear under the image listing as well. As it is that needs to be done manually for each piece. i’d also like something that tracks my submissions as well, perhaps something a little more in-depth so i’ve been looking into bento. I like that I can hook it directly into iPhoto which is where I keep track of all of my photographs of artworks, detail shots, concepts etc. That should cut down on double handling. It also enables me to customize it exactly how I want. There are artist database templates available on the website to download. It also has powerful event management aspects.
    As I use my iPad as a creative tool, a portfolio and presentation device and studio reference the fact that I can put bento on it as well is very enticing. I don’t know if they sync very well, but that’s a pretty big plus for me!

    1. Jennie — I use Bento on both Mac and iPhone and it syncs very well. Sync works over WIFI, which is good if you have your Bento database on a different computer than you use to connect your iPhone/iPad to iTunes for its normal sync via cable. It works on iPod Touch, too.
      Bento is a relational database, which means you can link fields to other databases. I keep and link separate databases: (1) contacts (actually in the Mac’s Address Book, which shares data with Bento automatically; (2) artwork inventory; (3) sales database. A sales record has links to the contact DB and inventory DB, to avoid double data entry. For commissions the process starts with the contact and sales record — the inventory entry would be made last when the piece is done.
      I wish I could make Bento do a bit more on the sales end, so I could generate and invoice and track payments. Probably can be done by a more geekly person than me. For all the financial parts of the transaction, I use Quickbooks, which also had contact functions, but focussed on getting paid, not staying it touch for marketing purposes.

  7. Definitely e-Artist and Bento are the two best programs to use and from trying out a few of these I would agree fully with Peter and Kelly — though as a DIY’er, I side heavier with Bento.
    Real difference between the two is e-Artist is “out of the box” and you just start using the program. Bento is great for those who don’t mind tailoring the database to your needs.
    ArtTracker and GYST are okay and user support is timely and friendly, but the former lacks some features that e-Artist has, and GYST is not fully MAC-friendly (has a glitch where full documents won’t print). Flick looks great, but is very, very basic compared to what other programs have to offer — I’m surprised to see it in the top three, but then again, its super clean userface is actually the best out of all the programs mentioned.
    Great that trial versions are available as it really comes down to what your needs are.
    Alyson, nice to see this topic revisited and updated!

    1. Thanks to everyone who lets the rest of us know your experiences in detail!!! As a beginner in the computer age, I have everything to learn about this subject. And I don’t want to spend time first-hand learning, because…”I’d rather be in the studio!”

  8. Hazel Jaramillo

    I’m not familiar with contact management for artists per se, but as a database manager I’ve used several customer relationship management (CRM) programs and really like Daylite. A CRM program allows you to not only keep a database of prospects and buyers, but tracks communications and transactions with the goal of developing and maintaining long-term business relationships. Daylite is a Mac based CRM that is flexible and user friendly. It downloads data easily to Excel and other programs to import into Constant Contact for email campaigns. It’s very reasonably priced and support service is good. To find out more Google DayLite.

  9. I just checked out Bento – I like that there is an iphone/ipod version, so I could try it out without splurging on the desktop version right away. I noticed there are templates you can download from their website for all kinds of things, so that might be useful for people who don’t want to do all the customizations themselves. Looks like it could be useful for managing lots of things besides just business contacts…

  10. I simply use the Address book on my MAC. I’ve been using it for all my contacts and tweaked it a bit to include fields for contacts who were art friends, or art dealers, or my own purchasers/clients. I can input the title of the work they buy and price too as well as the venue. IT’s not a big database, does not track my inventory which I use a spreadsheet for . but i can pull the lists I need anytime.
    I’d like to try Bento though after reading your comments…might be just the thing.

  11. Linda Williamson

    Depends on the money you have available and your computer. I appreciate both Microsoft Outlook and Maximizer for their customer relationship management. Both are customizable. Both can maintain a listing of what interaction you have. Both can make specialized lists based on location of showing and other parameters.
    As artists, customer relationships are important for repeat sales or just bodies at an openin, maybe with a “bring friends” invitation.
    Both will allow maintenance of personal info that could be useful to sales, like (horrors) the colour of their sofa or other buyer’s criteria.
    If you are just starting out, it’s good to develop a tentative list with the proviso in that first email – and all emails – of giving the potential customer an option to opt out.

  12. I’m looking for a database system for my art practice, I use Ubuntu and most of these are PC and mac programs. Does anyone here have a suggestion as to what I might try? I may just build from scratch but I’d like to spend my time elsewhere.

  13. Kelly Fitzgerald

    Thank you for sharing this Alyson. For years I have been using Excel, Word and Aperture to organize my inventory and contact lists. I am going to try out the eArtist software free for 30 days and give it a go!

  14. This is my computer time.. and I too would rather be in the studio.. This subject is timely… I just got Pay Pal in order, one thing checked off of the list.. There are days I wish I had a Mac.. for the Ipad and other goodies.. but I have a PC,,, and appreciate all the input that everyone has shared, because this way I can start fresh… I don’t understand Excel, so I hope e Artist would be easier! Thank you

    1. Just FYI – I’m seeing a fair number of folks (PC users) here mentioning Excel (and Outlook) – neither of which are databases. Microsoft’s database is Access, which is included in the Pro versions – but is not as fully integrated with the other MS programs as it might be. Outlook, of course, is the MS e-mail program, and while it has a fairly robust contact list ability, and task, appointment, to-do list features, which enable you to use it as a very basic project management tool, I can’t imagine using it as a database.

    2. I agree, Carol. I can’t imagine replacing a full-blown database with Excel or Outlook. Some people say it really works for them, but I’m not sure they know what they’re missing.

  15. I had purchased Arete/Masterpiece, worked with the software for 6 months+(within my allotted time schedule for that during the week), had no progress and last week decided it was time to move on with another program. In my humble opinion, this program was too much trouble and not intuitive at all.
    e-Artist is the software that I purchased. I downloaded the software code, installed etc., and finished with data entry relative to art, images of art, contacts and exhibitions in one day.
    I’m sure some of the other software programs are equally as good but the fact that there was no formatting was huge for me and the software is great.

  16. Am an owner of 2 galleries…any input as to how e-Artist would work if I wanted to use it for our gallery inventories and invoicing? Is it flexible to allow input about multiple artists (somehow?)? Anyone know of something better out there for that purpose?

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Helen: There are other programs made for galleries, like Gallery Soft. Have you looked at gallery-specific software?

    2. Helen – I just started investigating software for an artist friend and came across 2 programs that might be of interest to you – ASX and My Art Collection – both have gallery specific programs as well as software geared toward individual artists. You can google them up to locate websites which I thought were very informative. hope this helps

  17. I have two problems. One is deciding to carry on with Excell or to try to transfer all my info to a new system. I’ve been using Excell for about 11 years to record sales of originals and prints, names,addresses, phone no. and a few notes. Then I can add the names, addresses and info to my contact list which is also on Excell. I can print labels for mailings or send them to a mailing service. My mailing list is 1600. Bento sounds ideal but I have a PC. I am thinking about eArtist. But it may be a lot of work to switch. Any suggestions?
    The other problem is that I co-own a gallery and for our gallery mailings we 3 owner artists put our personal mailing lists together along with names gathered at our gallery events. We have recently tried out Google Documents which puts our document in the “Cloud”. I access it from our gallery gmail account. It is a system that is good for committee work. We put our group mailing list on and all 3 of us can make corrections and updates. We have our personal mailing list addresses coded with our name and can just use that part of the list for anything we want. But….this takes my list out of my hands and makes it difficult to add all the new categories I want to add to gather information on my sales and buyers. It saves time because I only have to enter once but….any ideas?

  18. Hi Rosanne,
    I just saw your post on Alyson Stansfield’s blog about using Excel vs trying eArtist.
    I’m taking her Cultivate Contacts online class currently, and am also in the midst of trying to find my way in the maze. I have a free trial of eArtist, and of all the software programs she mentioned (for PC), this one seems the best to me. However, I’ve just sent them a query as it appears I can only have 4 different types of clients (Status), such as Buyer, Contact, Student, etc., and I have several more. So I’ve asked them if there’s a way to have more. If they do, I’m probably going to go with that, am waiting to hear back. They did answer my other question within 24 hours, which was a good sign!

  19. I use Filemaker Pro, which is the grandaddy of Bento. I learned a bit about it when I was employed at a school, and started using it for a christmas mailing list. Now, I use it for my painting list (with images), to create any size labels, lists, receipts, consignment sheets and my exhibit mailing list. There is a little bit of a learning curve, and it isn’t cheap, but if/when I get the time, I believe I can link my mailing (contact list) and or gallery list to my painting list, and can help me enter things once and have it show up in the right place.

  20. Hi David,
    Do you find that Art Tracker contact list for sorting is limited? I only see 2 categories to make lists. Do you know if you can add your own?
    I appreciate any feedback on Art Tracker since I have purchased it, and I am now thinking about purchasing something else.

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  22. I use Bento and I love it. I agree with Susan Donley’s comments. I use it for all types of “forms” I have created for inventory, to keep details of kiln firings, passwords, etc. It is very easy to use and you can start with a template and then just massage it to your liking.

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  24. Reading all of the comments is super helpful in choosing a software to go with. After all these years I finally need to be more organized and put everything in a data base.
    EArtist sounded like one I would like, but not in my budget. Bento is the most likely choice not only because it is so reasonable, but also because later I can go with FileMaker pro which interfaces with Bento and is more robust on the business end.
    Thanks everyone for your comments. Reading them has been crucial to making my choice so I can get my inventory together in one place!

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  26. I’ve been using eArtist for years and like it. It seems to have a few printing bugs now and again. Also, I would like to be able to create separate lists within the “constituents” database to separate out different groups for targeted mailings. Perhaps coding the list is the way to go.

    1. Phillip, I have about 10 different lists I can pull out for separate emailing. I use status to do it in reports and sort. The “slice and dice” options eArtist gives me are very useful for implementing plans that came out of “Cultivating Collectors”: giving preferential treatment to patrons, students vs buyers, galleries, media, etc. I am still having problems with importing and would love to discuss that.

  27. elizabeth j white

    Hey, I am a artist, in Easley S.C. though I have been drawing and painting for about my entire life. The Biz End is all new to me. I am 51 and really just now really emerging with my art. I work out of a small sun room. I have heard there is help out there to get a studio and equipment but it is all so very complex. At this point I have a body of work and am running out of room. I need a studio Easel but I guess I can make do with my portable one until I can get one. I have so many questions I don’t even know where to begin. I have several websites with my art on them. I have so far just started showing
    but I know if I can just get my work out there I am confident it will sale. I have saw much astounding artwork. I am humbled by it all. I Sold Three At my first Art Show
    didn’t get rich, but I almost wanted to hang on to my babies(paintings haha)
    I am not sure about shows and prices and the framing part and presentation part
    setting prices is always hard for me. I sold three paintings at my first show one for 300.00 and two for two hundred and small work for 60.00- minus the curators com. 30% I have been told I need a promoter, or agent, I don’t know about that.
    I do feel I need to get a studio set up where it will be accessible to all. all this takes
    funding and I just don’t know where to start. I read about grants. but it seems you need to have a reccomendation for this so complex. I am working very hard and when I sale something someone ask me for the same I don’t have copies or prints or others
    can any one give me some advice, I also am in need of crytiques thank you sending out a big SOS

  28. Thanks Alyson for all the good info you provide us artist types! I started with your list years ago.
    I have tried a number of the different art databases, some I’ve downloaded, others I’ve just worked in trial mode:
    Artist Butler- I tried this when I had a PC. I had a few downloading issues with the zip files as I didn’t have a zip file reader, but tech support was great. I never did get it to download correctly and moved on. I have not tried it on my mac.
    Flickr- Nice graphics, it locked up on me a few times though in trial version.
    Eartist- I did the trial version only- too complicated for me, lots of little things to fill in. I need a simpler approach.
    Art Tracker from Xanadu Galleries- This system is great and practical and I think they’re planning an update soon. I often found getting around from one category to another and back to home was sometimes complicated. I had to close the program and reopen it to get back home. I’m sure it’s just user error.
    Responsive tech support. I don’t really like the intense red graphics. I would like to be able to incorporate my own logo in the consignment sheets.
    Bento – Bento is fun, but not as practical without lots of work. For example, I could not figure out how to print a consignment sheet with multiple paintings like you would take to a gallery. It’s set up to view one file at a time. It’s synced with your address book though if you have a mac.
    I recently came across Artwork Archive, so far this is my favorite system:
    I was able to upload artwork easily, and found it very intuitive and user friendly. Because it’s cloud based, there’s no risk of losing artwork, and you can access your work anywhere. I got a quick response from tech support.
    Once you enter your data for images, you can print consignment sheets, and even labels to put next to the paintings. You can keep track of which gallery carries your work. I’m still in trial mode, but I think I will end up sticking with this one…. There’s a yearly fee, but I think its worth it. It’s easy to move from one category to another, check it out.
    Lisa McShane’s blog called ‘1000 paintings’ has some good info on Artwork Archive:

    1. Thanks for that rundown, Matthew. Lisa’s post is linked to in that other post I wrote. I appreciate your detailed overview of these systems and will be sending people here to read it. Much gratitude!

  29. Great, I’m glad I can be of help somehow. I will plan to give Artwork Archive a long run and check back to report how it goes. I need to stick with something for a while!
    I would like to take one of your classes on organization soon Alyson, but my plate is too full currently, and I want to be a committed student 🙂

  30. I’ve been using Artist’s Butler for probably 6 years and have been very happy. I haven’t required tech support much but when I have they were very responsive. I love that I can import a batch of images at once to inventory, it’s quick to update when a piece has sold and easy to call up all things sold at one gallery to see what they need more of. I find it very intuitive. And it was inexpensive

  31. I use Filemaker. It is a database software program. Filemaker is a subsidiary of Apple computer – it works on PC or Apple. Filemaker also makes the personal database software, Bento.
    Filemaker and Bento also have “App” versions just for the iphone and ipad.
    Here is a sample art archive template:
    Filemaker Pro 12 costs less than $300, is fairly easy to learn and very flexible.

  32. I started with Flick some years ago (pretty, but too limited)
    Used eArtist for years. It worked well for my needs. Then I started having problems. It appears to create links to your images which reside elsewhere on your computer. Thus if you chance the location or folder of your original image, the picture is gone from eArtist. After reorganizing my images on my computer, I would have to redo all my images on eArtist. So I looked elsewhere.
    Now using Artwork Archive:
    The good: Love having my artwork stored on the cloud. Have found the ability to access work on an iPad or someone else’s computer to be extremely useful. Entering, accessing and viewing work all seems pretty straightforward. Has a category dedicated to competition entries.
    The bad: It seems to be designed best for artists who sell at a few galleries, not for those who display at many different galleries. The basic price covers only 100 artworks and 20 galleries, I am quickly reaching that limit. If you want more the price goes from $35/year to $65/year. I don’t like paying a yearly subscription fee.
    The future: Bento sounds like a great option – especially with apps for iPhone and iPad that sync to your computer and make your inventory viewable on those devices. Only problem is I don’t have a Mac. Saving those pennies, someday…
    For now, considering returning to eArtist as I reach my limit on Artwork Archive, but supplementing it with images stored in Dropbox. But ugh, that seems like extra work. No great solution found yet.

    1. Jill: Thank you for sharing your experience with these systems. I know it will help people out.

  33. Great info Alyson and Jill! I also keep looking for the perfect system. In the meantime, I created an Excel Spreadsheet that I can access from my Ipad with SplashTop2. Also love using InvoiceToGo as another way to look over information and keep track as to where I am. Love learning and always appreciate any help!

  34. Suggest that people buy and learn how to use the database program Filemaker Pro 12.
    It is the database program I use.
    You control everything. You customize it how you like it. No limits on art or what you can do.
    Never have to worry the web-based data base goes out of business…or you lose all your work because you didn’t make the annual payment.
    For about the cost of 3 years some web data based products you can own Filemaker Pro 12 and your own custom made art databases for life.
    Filemaker Pro works on Windows or Apple and the company is owned by Apple.
    Plus apps to use it on the road with your iPad or iPhone.

  35. Let me preface this post by saying that I am one of the principals in Elms Publishing the maker of My Art Collection While this software is primarily designed for collectors we have many artists who use it. I just wanted to post this up and give alyson’s readers get an opportunity to check it out We developed and began selling this product in 2004 and it has been used by thousands of collectors around the world since then. While it may not be the perfect fit for all artists, we have photographers, quilters and many other paint media artists using it. It does not do your CRM or AP/AR but we have very few, if any, complaints from users. The tablet version is going to be out in the 2nd qtr this year.
    Our facebook page is here please take a look and like us if you do. You can also use the coupon code MyArt10 for a 10% discount for yourself or any of your customers on any of our systems.
    Also the system is written in filemaker so it is cross platform to Mac or PC.

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  37. In the process of trying out a few artist software, eArtist, Working Artist, and GystPro. A combination of all three in one software would be a nice improvement. Still missing much of what would include together the various venues I had hoped to find in a single software. I teach sculpture, drawing, and have open groups with life models out of my studio, as well as have my own physical gallery – though still getting setup since a relocation. A software I have used previously – Sage, ACT Premium (Swiftpage, SalesLogix, ACT are now combined together), requires quite a bit of customizing, though with third party add ons like the ones from Durkin, ASDS, QSalesData – which directly links together QuickBooks and ACT, CompanionLink, QuoteWerks by Aspire, it seems much better than the choices I have tried here. The reason I have tried out these artist software was to see if there was something I might be missing with what I customized in ACT. Which proved a definite yes, I had quite a bit left out of the stew on what I had customized for ACT for my art business. But I feel these software solutions are not able to handle much of the various aspects of my art in one synchronized software. The cost is higher with ACT as a customized software, than the less expensive options listed here. The art information is very useful in GYST, something beyond just a working software.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Thank you for sharing your experience with these program. I agree that there are much more powerful options available.
      Do you think you will be able to customize ACT to make it work for you?

  38. Yes, I have more to customize but the ACT Premium is better than anything I have found yet. With the base setup of ACT Premium there are starting template categories, – contacts, company, group, opportunity, projects, histories, reports, calendar, activity list, connections. There is full native function of Microsoft word within ACT, and imports of Excell spread sheets. Imports from Google, Outlook, as well as syncs, as well as email within ACT using Outlook within the ACT program, or native email using included ACT email. For added custom templates I was able to add Exhibitions, with sub categories; specific Sculpture and Drawing Classes, with sub categories; Invoice, with sub categories, etc… The Durkin Impact Suite add on software simplifies creating the additional custom categories, and sub menus within the categories. The base included categories in ACT can also have added custom layout fields, defined custom fields, defined custom tables, that all synch together throughout the categories, and calendar. Their are quite a number of add ons for purchase that far exceed my needs, but the ASDS add on for faxing within ACT, merge and import ASCHII data, scan and attach documents within ACT; the Durkin for creating templates for invoices, bids, inventory, billable hours, also enables working with LinkedIn, and Facebook within ACT, Google maps within ACT; QuoteWerks by Aspire, quotes to orders, invoices, and purchase orders; QSalesData for linking and to Synchronize Contact Data between Sage ACT! and Quickbooks, Create Quickbooks Customers, and invoices from Records in Sage ACT.

  39. Also pictures of the life models, the art projects at various stages, or final art projects, clients, equipment purchases, exhibition, etc…, pictures can be included within any of the categories, groups, contacts, company, … as customized templates, each independent person, project, life model, client, within a category would have it’s own customized entries.

  40. Which proved a definite yes, I had quite a bit left out of the stew on what I had customized for ACT for my art business. But I feel these software solutions are not able to handle much of the various aspects of my art in one synchronized software.

  41. I still use old Working Artist software–developed about 2010 and PC based, and not supported since 2014. I have about 2000 artworks, 1500 sales linked o those artworks, and few thousand contacts stored on the system. I switched to Macs years ago and so am running WA on an old Parallels (7), which isn’t ideal. With the amount of data I have, a conversion would be a huge task.

    To access the image for each painting, the WA software links to my Picasa database, with something like 40,000 images on it. Again, an unsupported program that I keep using and backing up because nothing else comes close to being able to store what it does for free.

    No cloud-based programs possible for me in the boonies with upload and download speeds of .05 MBPS through Verizon; it takes me almost 5 minutes to download one photo from the cloud and the system usually times out before a complete download.

    I’d love to know what people are finding for Macs in 2020 for a really good artist database and reopen this discussion.


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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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