When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money.
– Oscar Wilde
I have yet to meet an artist that doesn’t feel the need to do a better job organizing their finances. It’s important to keep track of your income and expenditures so you can identify issues, evaluate your product sales, and get your taxes straight. Over the last few years I’ve been putting together a set of spreadsheets to manage our studio finances.
It occurred to me that this might be useful to other people, especially those starting out, so I’m making them available for download. See below.
There are nine main spreadsheets. (In Excel, there are additional spreadsheets for the charts and some tables.) Most of the spreadsheets have some auto calculating fields to do the math for you. The formulas are very simple, so it should be easy to modify them to suit your needs.
Many of the spreadsheets have charts included so that you can get a quick visual representation of what’s going on with your business. The charts will function automatically as soon as values are entered in the spreadsheets. (They may need some editing if you add or delete fields.)
The individual convention spreadsheet is a list of all the products you have for sale at a particular convention subdivided into categories. There are subtotals for each category, and final totals listing your full sales and your profit from those sales. There is also a second table that lets you calculate your income versus your convention expenses, such as table fees, travel costs, etc. That data can be applied on the next spreadsheet. You can duplicate this spreadsheet for each event you attend.
This sheet lets you compare your conventions to each other. You can make educated decisions about which shows to continue attending and which to drop and where you need to reduce expenses.
Track your online sales and expenses.
The additional sales spreadsheet is a place to put all of your miscellaneous sales. This includes consignment sales in brick-and-mortar stores and offline commissions and requests (like when your mom’s coworker wants your book.)
The marketing spreadsheet tracks any advertising or promotional costs. (You could duplicate the spreadsheet in order to track donations, such as prize support given to conventions or charities.)
Product Cost and Pricing
The product cost and pricing spreadsheet helps to figure out what your item actually costs, how you’re going to price it, and how much profit you make on it. )This will help you fill out the convention information spreadsheet.) This will require a lot of user customization; for example, we break out the individual costs of matting a print because we use multiple sizes. Pinpointing exact costs is important to reducing our expenses. If you don’t need that level of detail, you could combine all of those costs into a matting column for less confusion. Alternately, you may need to add columns to fill in other costs. If the cost doesn’t apply for an item, just enter zero.
This is a tracking sheet to keep track of your inventory and the value of what you have on hand. This is useful if you ever have to make an insurance claim in case of disaster.
Studio expenses put together your total cost of doing business. This spreadsheet is crucial if you want to deduct your business expenses on your taxes. You track your production costs (such as print runs) and expenditures on items like computer software and hardware, art supplies, studio amenities like furniture, your rent, utilities, and insurance. Generally speaking, you can deduct reasonable business expenses on your taxes, and that can include a dedicated studio or home office space. It needs to be dedicated to qualify-it can’t be a multi-use space. (Note: I am not a tax professional and am based in and speaking of the USA.)
The year-end totals give you an overview of the entire year. This will allow you to compare how your business is doing year-to-year and help you identify where you need to make changes. It will also make your accountant very happy.
Download Art Business Spreadsheets in Numbers Format
Go ahead and use fake values if you want when ordering the spreadsheet-it’s just easier to handle the downloads through the store system. (It’s fun to know where you’re from though.)
I didn’t include a receipt tracking spreadsheet because I wasn’t sure how useful it would be. You should keep track of your receipts, but there is a lot of software out there that can do a better job of organizing for you than manually entering things into a spreadsheet.
Bare minimum, though, you should be keeping your receipts. This means saving email receipts, and keeping track of your physical receipts, even throwing them into a box if that’s what you can manage. I would suggest taking pictures of or scanning physical receipts just in case, since many are printed on paper that will degrade over time.