Reviewed December 2014
Lori Salmon, Senior Librarian
Mid-Manhattan Library, New York Public Library

Founded in 2000 by Karen Atkinson, artist, curator, and faculty at CalArts, Get Your Sh*t Together (GYST) software is a business management system made by and for artists. Bypassing the middleperson, creative individuals can control and keep track of day-to-day administrative documents and tasks, including artist statements, exhibition checklists, sales invoices, installation forms, grants and proposals, and tracking artworks. For any arts professional or small organization handling daily activities of work to meet goals, this is a reasonable way to make the process more organized.

gyst 3The databases (Artwork, Bibliography, Contacts, Exhibitions, for example) feature customized layouts and fields that are practical and make sense to an artistic audience. Furthermore, the databases are relational; that is, when filling out an entry in Exhibitions, one can import entries from the Artwork database. (Currently, the Calendar does not autopopulate from the other databases; but an email from GYST support team said that it is an upcoming update.) Data can be imported from a variety of spreadsheet formats (Filemaker Pro, Excel, Comma Separated Values, etc.); data can also be exported, emailed, and printed.

GYST software keeps things modest when it comes to design. The consistent scheme makes the application feel as if it is all part of the same solution and not just random, heavy-handed layouts. Uniformity across the board allows users to establish an accurate mental model of the way the solution should work making this database accessible to novice users or self-starters—and leads to less training and support costs, making GYST a more sustainable tool in the long run.

GYST software comes in two versions with a one-time purchase price—GYSTbasic ($59) and GYSTpro ($129). GYSTbasic is great for a person in the early stages of his or her career with a modest inventory of artwork, such as a graduate student or someone new to this vocation. GYSTpro is more robust, and works best for artists who have created an independent body of work over a number of years and who have received recognition through publication or public presentation of their work. Those who have a significant number of exhibitions at galleries and museums would also find this robust system helpful for tracking their work through the application of descriptive metadata found in queries related to artwork, sales, proposals, and mailing lists.

Regular software updates are available through the company’s website and for those who find it necessary to upgrade after buying GYSTbasic software, one can visit the GYST product page to purchase the GYSTpro upgrade ($69) in the Mac or PC versions. Wholesale, discounts, and bulk pricing for schools, organizations, and non-profits are also available through the GYST Affiliate Program.

GYST works on Mac and PC platforms, and the GYST Ink team of friendly support staff is available by e-mail. An improvement in the works will enable mobile device access; however, one current downside is that GYST software cannot be used on multiple computers without reconfiguring user parameters and the use of third-party cloud storage, such as Dropbox.

Several other software packages are similar to GYST and are comparable in price, such as Flick!, WorkingArtist, and eArtists, as well as more costly products, such as Artbase, Masterpiece Manager, and Artsystems Studio. But GYST is the most comprehensive in terms of individual user experience. Because this product was designed specifically for artists of all ages, emerging to mid-career, GYST is always considering how to help artists achieve career objectives that reflect a wide range of artistic values. In doing so, like any efficient piece of technology, GYST looks at resources in different ways by managing detailed information for every document that you need to run a creative workspace, making it easier to access, present, and distribute.