4 Must Have Apps for the Organized Artist and Small Business Owner


Things LogoPlatforms: MAC only

Price – $49.99 for the Mac (only!).

Where To Get It: Created by Cultured Code, downloadable online.

How I Use It: Things is a wonderful task management program that’s a one-time buy. I’ve been using it for over a year, and it’s been my “goto” assistant every morning. It also syncs with my iPad and iPhone so that I can update and cross things off my list while I’m on the go.

Why It Makes Me a Better Artist: The biggest usability factor I find with it is that I can enter a task into the list, date it, assign it to a project or a person on my team and then FORGET ABOUT IT. That leaves my head clear for other creative matters that need attention in the immediate time frame. Sometimes there can be a lot to remember, so having a virtual system in place for task management is an excellent way to gain more brain and physical space in the studio.

Favourite things about it: I can prioritize items by things needing to be done “Today”, “Next”, “Scheduled”, “Someday” and “Projects” and then review the list for priorities according to those categories. I love the project management aspect of it, which allows for specific assignments of the tasks required to complete a project. A+ on this for me.

I can assign team members to tasks and projects. That’s great too, because I can email my team members with their task lists…and forget about it, or as more often happens, I have them sync their iPhones with “Things”. Works wonderfully – but you have to be on the same WiFi network, if I recall.

What Would I Improve About It: I’d like to be able to program a timed reminder alarm that goes off via an email or sound cue. I can do this via iCal but I prefer using that for appointments and not task management which in my mind are totally different “things”.


Evernote LogoPlatforms: Mac and Windows

Price: There is a FREE version but I’ve got the yearly subscription. It’s $45.00 per yr.

Where To Get It: Evernote Site link takes you to the Mac App Store.

How I Use It: Electronic filing for receipts, sales and expenses. Saving links to sites that I want to revisit. Blog-writing on the go. Workshop information (for workshops I’m giving). Basically, it’s a cloud storage database and organizer of information.

Why It Makes Me a Better Artist: It makes me a better artist because I don’t have to spend as much time worrying about critical files that I need if my hard drive or computer systems go down. What’s mandatory and quickly accessible to me is available..anywhere I can get internet access.

I can e-file everything that I want to keep into “Notebooks” that are in categories and sub-categories. I’m able to share my notebooks with my team members and it all syncs with my iPhone and iPad so when we’re on the go, those resources stay with me wherever I can access the internet. I can save up to 1 gig a month online, so do save some photo references as well there.

I can email things directly into Evernote, so for instance if I get an email from a client that I want to keep, I email it into Evernote, then delete it off my hard drive or iPhone, knowing it’s there later. It keeps my hard drive and email InBox clean and I’ve “processed” and archived that information for later reference if required. Efficiency is the key…more time for me in the studio!

Favourite things about it: Emailing into Evernote. Saving and emailing photos for reference into the database. How incredibly detailed I can get with it by tagging things for further reference. It becomes my own reference library. That there are so many add-on applications that work with Evernote such as Skitch…it’s endless and developers keep adding to it. I’m happy with the updates to the product and that they are quite on top of any bugs that appear in system operations.

Shortcomings: I wish it were a one-time purchase, but I’m actually amazed at how incredible a value it is for 1 gig of cloud storage a month. Overall, I don’t have a suggestion yet as to how I’d improve the program. I’m very satisfied with it!


Bento LogoPlatforms: Mac

Price: $49.99 as a single user, $99.99 in a Family Pack (allows up to 5 computers at one time).

Where To Get It: Bento Site Bento is made by the Filemaker folks. It’s like the little sister to Filemaker. For those that require a more powerful database management system, check out Filemaker Pro.

How I Use It: Bento is a database management piece of software that allows me to  keep track of mailing lists, addresses and sort into categories of collectors. It acts as a “one stop shop” for archiving all of the information on works that are created, where they are shown, when they are sold, etc. As Bento is customizable, you can pretty much get as detailed as you want to regarding the categories in which you want to classify and sort your artwork. I also use it to keep track of investments (not a hard job, because I’m a poor artist), iPhoto catalogue, iCal Events and Tasks, User Names and Passwords – just about anything that you need to sort, classify, record or archive.

Why It Makes Me a Better Artist: Again…I’ll say it again….because it saves so much time for me so I can be in the studio. Entering all your works and contacts into a database program at the get-go can be a daunting experience. (Hire someone if you have to – I hired my son and that worked out well. He learned more about the business…we got the work done!) Once the database information is entered, you have a beautiful archived library of information on your entire career and THAT helps you become more organized, more efficient and independent. There’s no downside on any of that from a business or artistic perspective.

Favourite things about it: There are numerous ready-made Bento templates available for free on the Bento website, including one for art inventory. These are super as starters, and allow you to then sort through and add fields for classification as you require. It’s super easy to use and quite visual and user-friendly. There’s a version for my iPhone and iPad that allows me to carry them “on the go”. It’s customizable, expandable AND…if you need to “grow it up”, you can upsize the data into Filemaker Pro.

Shortcomings: Bento doesn’t sink over the internet, so you have to sync only when you’re on wifi. I’d love it if there was a remote feature that updated remotely, but it’s a picky thing with me.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact LogoPlatforms: Mac, PC, Linux – it works over the web so any platform will do.

Price: Monthly fee depending on the size of your contact list.

Where To Get It: Constant Contact Site

How I Use It: Newsletter, Email Communications, Facebook Page Site Integration

Why It Makes Me a Better Artist: Constant Contact does a bunch of html email programming in a WYSIWG editor, allowing me to create great graphic design on my newsletters. I don’t have to think about how “beautiful” it is. Professional looking email communications are de rigeur these days if you are wishing to stay in contact with your collector base. It’s “expected”, I believe.

Favourite things about it: The interface is super easy to use, and you can try it out for free for awhile to see if it’s for you. What I absolutely LOVE is that they have amazing support people who are there to help you out and are really organized and proactive. They call….they help…they send tips and there seems to be a personal connection with the company. THIS….I love about ANY company. If you take the time out to call me and check in, see how I’m doing and really know how I’m using the product without me having to complete a silly “5 minute” survey, you’ve got my vote.

I can import my mailing database from Feedblitz or Bento, categorize lists and send out specific communications to certain client lists as required. This is a huge timesaver. VIP collectors may get different communications from me than blog subscribers, so being able to categorize and send to specific lists within the program is a bonus.

It’s all online. I can design a newsletter from my local coffeehouse if I feel like it. This is good…gets me out of the studio and office.

They always seem to be improving their services. I’ve seen two major improvements in the past month alone that allow a campaign management through Facebook.

I get notices when someone joins my mailing lists…or leaves. This is great because I can be more proactive and know who is interested in my work and develop a relationship with my clients and followers. I LOVE this!

They just “get it”. I feel the love from them.

Shortcomings: As a visual artist, I want LOTS of images in my emails. They only allow for five at a time unless you purchase an upgrade to allow you to upload more images. I don’t mind – it’s a small  amount, but I’d rather have that included in the package somehow. Just seems to be a bit “nickel and dimey” for such a powerful program.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Cathleen

    Love all your comments about Constant Contact. The main downside I am finding is that so many go into the spam folder due to email filtering systems like Gmail. Even when recipients add you to their address book, the emails sometimes go to the spam folder. Last time I sent out a newsletter, my own copy went into the spam folder!

    1. Janice Tanton

      Wow Cathleen, that’s great to know. I haven’t noticed it so much, but I have heard that from others. A good thing to watch out for! Thank you!

  2. ArtsBiz Institute

    I’ve heard that MailChimp is more suitable for artists. Apparently there is isn’t the limitation on images. Plus, it’s free for up to a 2K mailing list!

    1. Janice Tanton

      Thanks for that info, Carolyn. I started out at first looking at MailChimp, but then moved over to Constant Contact. I found the service was really helpful.

  3. Cameron James Cope

    Great post Janice, It’s been on my mind to start managing my task lists, subscriber/buyer lists and doing electronic filing more efficiently. I shall be exploring these programs soon =D …on another note I just discovered a handy little program called CleanMyMac that just helped me clear over 30GB of space from my hard drive. If your like me and are constantly searching for more space I’d recommend it 🙂

    1. Janice Tanton

      That’s great information, Cam! I’ll have a look at the CleanMyMac program. I’d love to find one to clear duplicate files off my hard drive. When you’re editing photos and film, space is at a premium on your drive, no matter how many TB’s you have.

  4. Candace

    thanks for the article! These all sound interesting. But on Things: there is actually a totally free web-based app that you can use called Workflowy. From the way you describe Things, it sounds like the exact same thing. If you have a phone with a data plan, you can view it from there, make changes etc, all for free.

    1. Janice Tanton

      Thanks so much for your input, Candace. So great to hear about other apps that will work for artists in so many different ways. Merci beaucoup!

  5. Joshua Vegas

    Great info! I’ll definitely have a look into these. Thanks! 🙂

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