Database software for artists

As I mention in today’s Art Marketing Action newsletter, building your own mailing list beats purchasing one any day. To do so–to do it right so that it can grow with your needs–you need good software.

The software below was designed specifically for artists' special needs. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend one of these over the others. Artists seem to be all over the map as to their preferences. However, I can tell you that not all are available for Macs, so Mac users will have fewer choices.

Art & Craft Business Organizer
Marketing Artist (11/26/07–no longer available)

You want software that can store all of your inventory as well as your buyers and network. Think about what else you need for it to do, like print mailing labels and export data and . . .

Amazingly, most of these are unattractive. I don’t know who they thought they were making them for, but they’re not visually appealing. I have used FileMaker since my early days in the museum. You can make it look however you like, but it requires a lot of setting up whereas the others come ready to use.

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15 thoughts on “Database software for artists”

  1. I share your pain Alyson. I’ve been looking for something decent for some time but I haven’t found a program that is exactly what I want. I find myself reverting to setting up Excel documents for for my needs. I hope to find the perfect program one day….thanks for the list I’ll definitely take a look. -Justin

  2. I have a Mac and I just bought AppleWorks which has a database program (as well as several others, including spreadsheet and presentation programs, all for about $90 from the Apple Store) that looks like it’s going to meet most, if not all of my needs. I just received it, so I haven’t had a chance to play with it all that much yet, but it looks very promising, and easy to use. I also downloaded Flick! a while ago, a shareware program for inventorying my artwork and clients (which I found on your blog, actually). It’s easy to use, but I don’t think it’s set up for mailing labels and such.

  3. I too am frustrated at how visually unattractive these programs AND their websites are! I have been trying to find one for some time. I need something that’s simple, intuative and easy on the eyes. I’m an artist, not an accountant! I don’t want tons of features I don’t need and definitely not busy words and lines and such to confuse me. I have been trying to get my bank to clean up their statements for years and they just don’t get it either. You would think that a company trying to sell to artists would hire one to help them with their products! If you or anyone out there finds or knows one that works, let me know. The Artworks program had the best website with an easy demo, and the program looks like it might not be too bad. I tried to do the Flick program demo and it loaded to my computer, but I can’t find it anywhere! One of the other ones makes you sign up first before you can view the demo! I don’t want more spam.

  4. This is very timely, because I’ve been wanting to purchase such software. However, since I also travel to teach art workshops, I also need to track that info, as well. Anyone have recommendations for that???

  5. I love my e-artist program. I use myob for all my financial records so I didn’t need something that records sales. E-artist gives you a mailing list database, inventory recording with images and lets you record details about each work, it allows you to build an exhibition list (or two) from your inventory and you can print out price lists and exhibition records straight from the program. You can also print reciepts and invoices which is handy.

  6. For workshops, I track a lot of stuff: correspondance regarding setting up the class, contracts, samples required and mailing deadlines, supply lists & class descriptions sent, travel details, my contact person’s cell phone number, and sometimes overnight hostess info. And that’s before I even start packing supplies, printing handouts, etc. Right now, I’m using a combination of notes on my calendar and a Word document that I fill in, as things materialize.

  7. Thanks for the useful summary Alyson – I’ll highlight it in my blog. Couple of other issues – most of the software is set up for the American market and I’m not aware of one which lets you choose which currency you operate in. I’ve seen one some UK software called Artlook which works on a similar basis ( ) but have not tried it. It would be great to see a full blown analysis of the pros and cons of different software sometime.

  8. Software recommendation: I’ve been researching this, via 2 of my email lists. Artworks, has been consistently recommended. (See the link from the blog page.) This software is only $39! (Note, this addresses art/exhibit info, but not teaching, which I was seeking. Guess I’m gonna stick with paper a while longer on that one.)

  9. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Ellen, re workshop software. I, too, use a Word doc. I print out a form and put it in the front of my file folder for that workshop. It works for me better than an e-doc would do. I just haven’t heard of workshop software, but you gotta believe it exists!

  10. It’s not for everyone, but I use the open source database program MySQL. It’s the same database that is often used as a backend for websites. There’s no program to run or interface per se — it’s pure data. But if you are handy with website programming, it is very powerful. And free.

  11. Hi Alyson, One of the art mailing list database websites on your list is giving this message: We’re sorry, but Marketing Artist is no longer accepting new accounts. Please contact for questions. I thought you’d want to know. Too bad, it was one of the ones for Mac!

  12. Hi, I just want to let people know about my extremely bad experience with Flick.
    I am not able to use it, because it is not functioning. After probably 10 emails there is still no solution and no help to fix this properly.
    To the question to get my money back instead I simply get no answer.
    This was for me the worst customer service ever.
    One big dissapointment and a waste of money….

  13. Chris Wachsmuth

    ArtWorks [artist software from Australia] is no longer for sale – website states that efc 3/1/11 it is now in “retirement phase”

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