6 Categories for Your List of Artworks

When you show your art at any venue, you will be asked to provide a detailed list of works included. Here are 6 categories to include on that list.

Teresa Cox

Teresa Cox, Night Sphere. Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60 inches. ©The Artist

1. Title of the Work
Want to make a gallerist, arts writer, and curator happy? Title your art!

2. Medium
Be specific here. List the medium and the support. Is it oil on canvas? Oil on panel? Oil on linen? And, don’t just call it “mixed media,” but list the various media involved. If applicable, identify the techniques you used.

3. Edition
If you make multiples, include the edition numbers.

4. Size
The size of works of art are listed as height x width x depth in inches or centimeters. If the image is framed, you will also provide the frame size: Image size: 12 x 16 inches; Frame: 18 x 22 inches.

5. Year
The year you completed the work.

6. Price
For most venues, you will provide a retail price – the price at which it is offered for sale. Museums will ask for an “insurance value” rather than a price.

You may be asked by some venues to provide a wholesale price instead of a retail price. I caution against that if you want to remain in control of your pricing.

If you provide only a wholesale price, the venue can sell it at whatever price they choose. A compromise would be providing both wholesale and retail prices.

Providing venues with objects lists is much easier when you have your inventory database in place. Just check of the works to include and run a printout.

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15 comments to 6 Categories for Your List of Artworks

  • I wanted to add one more thought, and that is to include an image of the work if at all possible, since it is fairly easy to mix up text about a work. This way, there will be no confusion and they will hang it or reproduce it right side up.

    In addition, you might want to consider a few other elements for each work, especially upon delivery.

    List of components in the work, esp. for installation etc.
    Condition report
    Installation instructions
    Whether it is for sale or not
    A tag on the artwork with a tracking number if possible

    • So you create a table in Word with a cell for a .jpg for each piece in the list, and then shrink your images down to that size?

      • Hi Arthur,

        That is one way, or you can use software that is made for artists which will print out a selection list for you. The GYST software is fixing a broken link that connects to a selection of reports on your artwork that should be out around April 1.

    • I’ve always thought that artists’ name tags at group shows would be much more useful if each one had an image of the artist’s work on it. You could do this with big printable labels.

  • When venues ask for Medium and the answer is “Assemblage,” does your answer for “Mixed Media” apply? In other words, do you think most places will be happier if you say “Assemblage,” followed by a short list of the principal components? I’m fine with that, but I don’t want to overload someone who was just asking for a nod in some direction. And Assemblage is already a subset of Sculpture . . .

    • I think the best answer is to talk to the venue in which you are showing, but otherwise, it is best to keep your own system of notation that is clear to you. I have seen both, but assemblage is not really a medium it is a technique (technically).

      • Maybe so, but following that logic I’d have to say “Sculpture” when they ask for medium, which would get us farther away from useful details, not closer. So I guess it’s preferable to say, “Assemblage: blitz, blotz, blatz.” Some places really want to know, and it probably won’t bother the rest. Unless there’s one tiny field on the application that won’t hold more than one word . . .

        • Neither Sculpture nor Assemblage is a medium. They’re both categories of art – like Painting, Photography, Fiber.

          A medium is something you use to make the assemblage or sculpture.

          A sculpture would be bronze, marble, aluminum, wood (the more specific the type of wood, the better), etc.

          So, to answer your question, Arthur, you wouldn’t even put “assemblage” in the medium. We can see that it’s assemblage. You would just list the components you used.

          • That makes sense, Alyson, by the dictionary definition of “medium,” and it might work — with painters, instead of putting down “painting” when an application asks for medium, saying, “oil” or “watercolor” or “mixed mediums,” and sculptors saying “marble” or “clay,” or “mixed mediums,” but in practice artist calls often list mediums (or “media”) as the old familiar painting, sculpture, fiber arts, film, etc, and I think it’s too late to change the word that they use. And when a particular show says that the only mediums that it accepts are painting and sculpture, a painter shouldn’t give up because they didn’t list oils or watercolor.

            I think we’re stuck with the misuse of the word, but l kinda like the idea of someone, when asked what sort of work they’re entering in a show, saying “Brazilian Rosewood.”

          • Actually, I see the problem: One of us is talking about broad categories that you might watch for in an artist call or enter on an application, and the other may be thinking mostly about descriptive text that could go on a title card next to a work in a gallery. In the latter case a viewer could easily see that something was a painting, or whatever, and would appreciate any available detail. In the former, someone reading a printed application probably couldn’t readily see the work at all, and might never need to — while the juror for the show would be scrutinizing the work but would probably (in my experience, at least) never see the application. No doubt, though: the word “medium” is widely misused.

  • Arthur: Medium is medium. I really don’t see any confusion. Medium is what something is made of. That’s what I want to be clear in this article that I wrote. When someone (an art professional) asks for the medium, they’re not asking for the category. They’re asking what it’s made of.

    If you apply to a show and you have to list a work under a Category (painting, sculpture, photography), that’s a whole other discussion.

  • Thanks for the info. I like Karen’s comment about adding an image when appropriate.

  • Here’s a question related to the size category.

    When you have a matted painting (in my case a watercolor) there are three sizes that apply to the framed painting – the size of the image (or painted area), the matted size, and the external measurements of the frame (for example, the frame may hold a matted size of 24″ x 18″ but if the frame is 2″ wide it’s external measurements are 28″ x 22″). In this case, does image size mean the actual size of the painted area? And does frame size mean the external measurements of the frame?

    In retrospect, I’m realizing that I’ve been providing the size of the matted image because that is how I think of the painting and also because if a customer wants to switch out the frame that is the size they will need to know.

    Thanks in advance for any insight on this.

  • Peter Worsley

    Why year? What is so important about my very recent paintings over those from last year?