Art Show - Computer Programs
You can use computers for:
- General office support:
- addressing envelopes
- writing letters and forms
- writing panel labels
- Specialized software:
- recording sales
- making floorplans
- Could be either specialized or general office software:
- calculating payments to artists
- reports to the convention treasurer
- assigning panels
- mailing lists
None of these need to be computerized, but computers can make all of them easier.
Most people have access to existing programs which can do general office support easily. It doesn't matter much which programs you use. If you're comfortable using computers, I'd use one for these tasks at art shows of any size. "Preparing" such programs may consist of starting a new spreadsheet, marking which artists you want to mail to, etc., but is generally simple.
You might want software for drawing floor plans (I use an old version of TurboCAD I picked up for $19). This isn't necessary for simple floor plans, but I'd hate to draw the floor plan for a 300 panel show without it. I use it for shows of any size because I already have the software and am comfortable with it. It's specialized software, but needs no particular preparation.
You absolutely must keep track of who entered what pieces, how much sold, and how much you owe each artist. Generally, I wouldn't bother with computer record keeping for shows of under about 30 panels unless I already had software written and ready. There is no show so large as to require computer record-keeping, but using them allows you to do extra things and do some things faster. If you do computerize your sales records, this is your most critical software. Some general retail software can be adapted to work at an art show, but it doesn't work as well as custom art show software [such as ArtiFacs, originally written for WorldCons]. Here, preparation takes two forms. First, any changes you want to make for the upcoming show must finished and tested well ahead of time. It's all too easy to put off changes until just before the show. Don't. You won't have time to fix problems at the show (unless you record sales after the show. See Schedules and record-keeping). Second, preparing may also include setting up a new show, starting a new database, etc.
I also use a panel assignment system written in Excel. I assign panels to artists by entering artist IDs on a drawing of the room layout. It shows artists with too few or too many panels assigned and panels which aren't assigned yet. It creates a list of all artists and what panels and tables each has been assigned, and creates panel labels with the panel number, artist ID, and artist name (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like a copy). Preparation involves importing all the artists' names and number of panels/tables and drawing and setting up the room layout.