Written by Leigh Blanckenberg
An important part of establishing yourself as an artist, as well as a form of organisation, is making an ‘archive’ of what you produce. This is something that artists unfortunately seem to neglect, however it is an important skill that can not only be used to keep record of one’s own work but professionals that are able to correctly document artworks are sought after in museums and galleries at home and abroad. Documenting or formally termed accessioning not only applies to artists and their own work but those who collect art often seek a catalogue of what they own or a system of knowing what their collection contains. Also an archive of what you hold can help promote the value of the work by organising your art pieces into a formal collection. Once you have created an archive it is often very easy to take the next step and create a catalogue of your work for commercial gallery or exhibition purposes.
You can go as far as getting an internship at a professional museum in order to establish a formal understanding of already established archival documentation rules but there is no strict manner in which you choose to document, or organise your artworks. It is dependent on what personally appeals to you. However, I can give you some basic steps due to my own experiences working in museums and with private collectors and the respective collections.
With each artwork produced you should have:
By accessioning your work, you are not only creating an easily accessible portfolio and allowing for a quick and simple way of promoting your work, you are creating the potential (when you are ready) to publish your work. It also allows you to sort out the significant pieces from that which you may or may not use. In addition if each artwork has been documented, none can fall by the wayside.
If you would like more information regarding the accessioning of your work, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact any local museum (Johannesburg Art Gallery is one example) to find out how they choose to keep record of their collections.