Investing in the Past: What is Safe Storage in the Digital Age? What is Preservation of a Legacy?
DIY This Necklace And Copy Another Person's Idea

Protecting and Investing in Your Artistic Legacy

Gate-number.I've been traveling for a couple of weeks, including attending the American Craft Council Conference "Present Tense" in Omaha, and my momentum in discussing artist legacy issues temporarily came to a halt.   In anticipation of being "out of studio" for a while, I sent 1,000 slides to a scanning service before I left.  Now catching up with daily routines, I'm reexamining the legacy issues that all artist's and makers may want to consider.

Present Tense Kaneko Head I continue to wonder how much to invest in the past - organizing and protecting an archive of my life's work.
Perhaps this reflects a profound perspective about one's self as a professional artist or maker.  Do you see your work as important to yourself or your field?  It is interesting to note that a portion of the Kaneko Building (where the Present Tense Conference was held) is dedicated to "the core collection of two thousand works by Jun Kaneko, providing examples of works chronicling his important and varied career" and his professional archive.

Professional-guidelines-inventory-recordsInterested in establishing and applying professional standards for artists and makers -- a dedication that led to the Professional Guidelines.  But contemplating the real time and expense of creating an archive causes a swirling of ego, pride, humility, professionalism, goodwill, hassle, ennui, tedium, ....  I do expect and hope that my work will live on somehow beyond me.  In the meantime (and I hope for a very long "meantime"), these efforts should enhance my administrative productivity well into the future.

Nevertheless, who cares?  No one cares really as much as me.  Therefore, it is my responsibility to take care of my own images and documentation.  

Craig Nutt (formally at CERF) has shared with me a remarkable resource for dealing with these issues -   Joan Mitchell Foundation CALL Resources

"Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) is an initiative of the Joan Mitchell Foundation designed to provide support to older artists in the areas of studio organization, archiving, inventory management, and through this work create a comprehensive and usable documentation of their artworks and careers.

This site is a publicly available resource to assist anyone involved whether artist, artist’s assistant, Legacy Specialist, family member, or friend of an artist in the process of career documentation."

Copied from this website "The workbook includes information on many elements key to career documentation including:

  • Importance of Documenting and Archiving Your Work
  • Working with Assistants & Legacy Specialists
  • Setting Manageable Goals
  • Physical Inventory
  • Record-Keeping System
  • Databases
  • Photographing Work
  • Budgeting

There is a documentation guide and audio book.

I am going to study this resource. If you have used it and would like to share your observations, please share in the comments.


This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.