The Importance of Archiving Artwork


Armand Cabrera

                                  The Spring House                                                                        Newell Convers Wyeth

Archiving work is an important part of an artist’s workflow. Whether you work traditionally or digitally archiving finished work helps you to keep track of the amount of work completed year to year. You see your progress or lack thereof and you have a chance to generate passive income from images that have already been sold depending on the original use and contract.

 Over time older worked can be re-purposed if you have it saved. I now derive about ten percent of my income from licensing deals from images old and new. This is passive income, it doesn’t cost me anything other than the space I need to store it. 

Archiving has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. Things have shifted from physical to digital and not always for the better but with a little effort and a reasonable expense you can save most of what you have created over the years.

There is no such thing as a permanent archive system some are better than others but all are susceptible to time and damage from external and internal accidents and decay.

I keep the highest resolution available to me at the time and I store it in a safe place that I have easy access to. It’s important to store and check your archived work from time to time making sure it hasn’t been corrupted and lost. Redundancy is important but nothing is fool proof.

I have a tiered approach to my archives I start  and end with optical media like CD or DVD. While the stuff I am using is current, I save them to magnetic media like external storage drives when I am working. I keep nothing on my computer; everything is stored on some form of media. This way if I do get a virus or I’m hacked I have at least a raw original version of the work. I do not yet use cloud services for storage although I do use them for transferring work to clients and other artists.

Next week I’ll talk about what is available, the issues with permanence for each type of media for you to archive work and the relative costs associated with the different methods of archiving.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Archiving Artwork

  1. Armand, this is important information for artists, and I appreciate you taking time to post what you have learned. I'll be looking forward to reading them all. I also have several places that I store the original images, and I have stored the "print" version that has been adjusted for lighting and size. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks so much for beginning this series Armand! This is a topic I have been wanted to explore further for some time. Looking forward to your series!

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