Did you know that Albrecht Dürer was one of the first artists to start signing his art? Hi. My name is Carrie and today on Artist Strong, we’re going to answer the question should you sign your art?
During the Renaissance, most artists actually did not sign their artwork. Part of that was because they were hired by patrons to create art for their homes, and their name was known well enough within an art community or by the people hiring them they didn’t feel like they need to put their name down on anything.
There is one story about Michelangelo, however, when he created his masterpiece: the sculpture that’s called La Pietà. (This work is now in the Vatican.) He had overheard people admiring it and giving credit to another artist for that sculpture. That made him kind of cranky, so he went back in and carved across Mary’s chest his name, Michelangelo, to make sure that everyone knew that it was his work. That’s one of our first stories of people signing their art.
Another Renaissance artist, a Dutch master, Jan van Eyck, was also one of the first people to start signing his art. One reason this happened, especially in the Northern Renaissance, is you had people all of a sudden in the middle class, who were now starting to collect and buy artwork.
It wasn’t just the super wealthy like the Church or other people in high places of power who wanted art for their homes. Artists created art that was a little smaller and portable. What better way to make sure people knew that you were the artist? Van Eyck started doing it so that when people saw his work, they knew it was his. In a lot of ways, that’s a branding decision being made.
I’ve seen a lot of articles out there that give you rules about whether or not you should sign your art. One of the major arguments that I see is that art historians say it’s going to help provenance. It’s going to help us prove throughout history that this is your work. If we always have your signature, we’ll know it’s yours even after you’re dead.
Some people are annoyed by this while others feel a lot of pressure that every work they create then has to be perfect because they’re putting their name to it and because it might be in the history books (the secret wish, anyway!). Well, if this is pressuring you so that you don’t make art: stop signing your art.
I mean it.
This is a silly reason for us to not be making. I know I felt that pressure myself. Sometimes we place elevated pressure on ourselves: every mark we make should be perfect, because (whisper) what if art historians could look at it?
If we have left this world, it doesn’t really matter now, does it?
I want you to be making. That’s the most important thing to me. Don’t follow arbitrary rules that people give you online. Don’t even follow my rules. Find something that speaks to your heart and if it feels good to sign your work, then go for it.
I would recommend that if you are branding or trying to promote and sell your art that you have a consistent signature. I can’t say that I do yet and I need to be better at it and take my own advice. But if you really want people to recognize your work, it’s not just the style of your art that helps do that, right? Your signature can act as a kind of logo for your work and help people who don’t know you learn about you.
If someone sees your artwork at a friend’s home and they’re like, “Oh, who’s Carrie?” for example, it could start a dialog that gets you a new collector. That being said, I want you to break those rules if they don’t fit for you. Do what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You don’t always have to put it in the bottom left corner. I’ve seen lots of artists agonize over this and lose time on their actual art making because they’re worried about how they sign their work. It certainly doesn’t matter if you don’t finish any work!
This might have not been the answer you expected today, but that’s my answer to your question: should you sign your art?
Be Creatively Courageous: share in the comments below do you sign your art and if you do, do you have a unique way that you do that? What’s your signature style of adding a signature to your art? Share it in the comments below. If you don’t sign your art, tell us about that too. Why doesn’t it feel right to you?
I’d love to hear more from you and I look forward to talking to you in the comments below this video. Have a great days, guys, and please share this video if you feel someone else will benefit from it. Bye.
I use a bind rune made from my initials 🙂 I started using that a long time ago and I’ve just continued. I usually sign my name and add the date to the back these days but only when they’re sold
Sounds like a strategy that fits well with your style of art and branding!
I do sign my pieces. Jsually on the lower right corner. Developed my signature several years Go with the year. Recently I have added a “chop” upper left corner.
Thanks for sharing Ramon!
Thank you for the information about signng art. I did not know some of the things you mentioned…!
I allways sign my art. And I never sign in the same place, like the right, for instance…what I do is to balance the painting with my name… so it can be in the right side or in the left, above or down…it is the most challenging part for me, hahaha
Thank you for sharing Maria!! I’m glad you learned something new 🙂
I use a bindrune as well! You’re the first artist I’ve met to also do this!
How cool! 🙂
Hi Carrie I liked your video very informative. I have always been signing my art work with my printed last name and then the year.
like that. what do you think?
I think that’s just fine Tony! The only reason I’ve heard some people don’t include the date is if they are promoting and selling their art, sometimes it can take a few years to sell a work and sometimes consumers think an older work means something must be wrong, when really in the art world it’s all about finding our right match. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing!
I signed my name on the bottom right of my original graphite drawing.
I have had several prints made of this drawing – so my signature shows on the print, but is a copy.
I also need to number my prints. So do I sign the prints again even tho my signature shows up on the print? If so where should I sign a second time?
Doesn’t the number of the print go on the bottom left front?
01/10 like this?
Hi there! Numbering prints – you’ve got it right. And you could sign on top of your signature already there if you like, but you don’t need to sign it again somewhere else.
Its an honest answer which liberates the artist from personal pressures and honesty to his or herself…..i am greatly encouraged…thank you very much…
You are very welcome Rex Carlo!
Art is my hobby….Im learning art on my own… I love to try different mediums, diffrent styles … I love to sign my artwork… Although i m not an artist…. But i feel guilty to sign, since i take reference from other artists work n use my own style. I always have this question, m i supposed to sign!!!!🙄
(1) You ARE an artist Sonali if you are making art <3
(2) There is nothing wrong with copying or referencing other artists as you practice and learn techniques. The ONLY situation in which it's not ethical is to sign and sell the art as if it's entirely yours.
If you want to sign the art, go for it! But if you feel uncomfortable, you certainly don't have to, I just hope it's not guilt or shame holding you back from owning your amazing efforts towards improving your art skills.
My signature is huge on my paintings but they’re mine and i sign with a smile every time
Own it! I love it!
I sign all of artwork. I don’t always sign in the same place. It is almost always on the bottom but which side depends on which side it will be noticed and to help balance out the piece. I always include the year below my name and I only use my last name but I have a very unique last name.
Thanks for sharing Connie!
What is a bind rune?
Great Q. I found this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bind_rune since I’m not sure Linda will see your Q!
People tell me for being a talented artist you sure cant write very good!…true I have sloppy writing my signature is different every time, so I started signing GoodBaD and now I’m called GoodBaD I put it in random places….hmmm is it good or bad?
Having a signature is different than painting! Imagine if that was reversed…
Thanks for sharing your signature style. I think artists should do what feels right to them. And it sounds like you found your way!
I paint miniature abstracts and only sign my name on the back. Why? Because I do not want my signature to influence the orientation of the painting. I leave the orientain, portrait or landscape, up to the client to decide. And as I have neurological issues that prevent me from being able to actually paint my signature with a brush legibly, I simply title the painting, add my signature (my first name only, which I’ve used since I was 12, [now 53]), and the date with a permanent marker on the back. No complaints and clients seem to enjoy choosing the orientation themselves.
Hi Phyllis! There are so many ways to sign. I like the idea of letting your clients choose placement – that’s a nice way to add a touch of service for your collectors.
Phyllis – I work in large abstracts, but do the same for the same reason. I feel more free to sign when it is on the back. I also put the title and date as well. My spontaneous abstracts lend themselves to various orientations as well. Clients seem to appreciate
Thanks for sharing Ruth!
Brilliant idea… I also have neurological issues and have been trying to find away around this!
I’m glad the conversations here have helped Dee.
I do that too…
I sign my work with my first initial and last name right now. When I first started painting, I signed with my whole name, but that takes too long. I’ve played with my initials, trying to make a distinctive mark, but haven’t been happy with this. So will probably continue with my first iniyial and last name. I will pencil a date on the back. When I frame my work, then I put the title, date, location, and any backstory on the back. I do this for all my quilts, too.
I’m always interested to hear how different artists handle this. It’s really smart to put all the details you mention on the back of framed work. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I used to be timid about putting my signature on the front of my work until someone stole a copy of a painting I did of my father’s home place where he grew up. From the stolen photo copy, a number of prints were produced and sold. No signature. I now sign all work that I do in pencil, oils, watercolor and acrillacs. When I do a drawing from a book, online,etc., I make changes to the pic then sign before storing away in a portfolio. If my drawing is identical to another owner’s piece of work, I DO NOT sign.
I hope this helps someone decide what they want to do about their signature. My signature is script, first initial and last name. Date of year underneath
Nancy I’m so sorry to hear of your awful experience but I am thankful you’d share it here with us and help everyone make informed decisions about their art and signing it. <3
I sign back of painting then add identifying code for date then I emboss the painting with name
Thanks for sharing!
Art theft happens a lot from originals to online. Most people online will put a small digital name covering the work. If it’s on the work, most thieves won’t take it. Because, it means work to them. I’ve told my mother-in-law not to post on Facebook. It’s too easy to take.
People who steal images can easily remove digital watermarks. If theft is your primary concern then adding one can at least help. It’s better to make sure your images are small in scale and in resolution, because then there is no quality digital information that they can steal to make prints of, etc.
I personally think it’s a shame when artists make decisions to hold back sharing their art and their voice out of fear. I’d rather artists consciously curate where they share their art because that’s where they feel most heard.
We can’t stop theft. We can stop the idea of theft from controlling our decisions as creatives.
Thanks for sharing Amy! Glad to have you here.
I place small initials in the bottom right corner as well as the month and year for any piece that could be framed or hung. I do not sign my photographs but have been thinking about options, especially for the ones that I do color and texture manipulations to.
I’ve seen photographers sign their names with a sharpie across their images. Find a way that feels fun for you. 🙂
I like the new signature logos you can get for photography
I work with resin so signature goes in back
I never thought to name them all but will now
Hi Deb, I think I know what logos you speak of – yes they are nice. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your signing/naming process with us, I appreciate it. Thanks for reading/watching!
I not only sign my art on the bottom right side, I also hide my name in inconspicuous places within my art. I think I’ll start signing the back with date, and such instead of the front; but I will keep hiding my name within my work.
Angela I LOVE that you hide your name in your work! Do you tell people who collect your work? Or is it a secret surprise for the super observant?? I don’t do this with my name, but I do hide things in my larger mandala works and I love that secret sneaky surprise element in the work.
I don’t say anything, so far no one has found it. I do it in such a way it looks like part of the art. Mainly I do it so if it’s copied there is proof it is my art. I learned this the hard way.
It’s a good idea, but I love the secret play aspect of it too. Thanks again for sharing Angela!
I do the same, Angela.
I sign my first name….
Since it is unusual I go with it and the last 2 digits of the year created.
Thanks for sharing Leitha! <3
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a young girl. In my early years of adulthood I started building doll houses with children that were in my care. Each house had its own design or time period. I placed the title of the house on the foundation bricks and created collection theme of “one home at a time” and added the kids’ first name only on individual bricks to give them a sense of pride. Most doll houses were auctioned of to help the organization I worked for at the time and some were given away to children in foster care.
My individual art work I sign with my initials pulled together. Title and year on the back frame which is covered with the canvas.
Your doll houses sound so special, thank you so much for sharing Helga!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. I am of the opinion that one who creates has the right to sign and/or name the piece.
Thanks for reading Nancy! Have a great day 🙂
First of all, I do not care for the way I do my lettering in my signature which caused me more stress than the art work I just created, so, I started to limit the length of my signature by just using my initials. I’ve used my initials for most of my life time and many people refer to me as MAC, which are my initials. And I’ve always felt more comfortable by signing to the right…
Part of the reason I wrote this article is I think too many people stress over it! Find the way that works for you (or don’t at all) and run with it. Make a choice that feels good, and get back to that painting! (or drawing, or stitching, etc.) Personally, I’m more concerned that we all make a lot more art! 🙂 Thanks for sharing and watching/reading.
I use at least three signatures, my full name, my initial first name with full name, and a logo I created with initials in a circle and three point to represent water sign. On my religious icons I sign on the back of the wood piece, tell the story of the provenance which inspired me and ALWAYS glue a stamp to my work on the back with date and city where I painted it as I travel often! Like an other artist mentioned in the comments, I also like to insert initials or name within the artwork or attached my name to a trompe l’œil painted key! I enjoyed reading about the subject
Christine thank you for sharing I enjoy hearing all of the unique ways artists sign their work. 🙂 Have a great day!
As an abstract artist selling mostly online these days, I worry about signing the paintings to influence orientation, too. I’ve started signing the sides in gold pen, but would like to find a sigil or glyph of my initials to add to every painting.
Anything with gold makes me happy!
I recently began selling my artwork out of a gallery on consignment, I was new to the whole choice of whether to sign or not and if so where and how? Well i decided to put my three initals on the front right bottom corner and the year…I was sadly told by the owner of the gallery that She did not like it and I should take my work home again with me and somehow remove my initials and date…well some of these pieces were “sealed” which made it impossible to remove it without ruining the look…so she doesn’t want my pieces that are signed on the front…only new work that “I may sign on the back and date if i would like to…what a shame i have probably close to 40 pieces of art that are rendered “unsellable” at her gallery! So, I’ve come to the decision to sign my work on the back and I will now date it when sold, i also do not know whether or not i should name it…i don’t want to make the customer have to agree with the name I’ve chosen, better to leave it alone and let the customer “name it, from their vision” idk if that’s a good idea or not? So, I’ve now decided after reading this that i will sign it on the back and date it when it’s sold. I was putting my name with a “collection year” but, i realize that some people might not like a collection from “2017, 18 or 19”, not wanting to buy “old art” feeling that if it’s still hanging around after a couple of years, why? Could turn them off…idk it’s a difficult decision… Help! Laura
Hi Laura, Thank you for sharing your experience. I have NEVER heard of this happening. You are the first! I’m finding it really weird that a signature alone is why this person no longer wants your work. This sounds like a her problem, not a you problem. At the same point in time, it does suggest that visiting galleries you wish to show at and seeing how artists are presented (even in terms of how they sign their art) would be some good research to do. And now more people might think to do that, thanks to your help posting here!
From interviews I’ve done, keeping works untitled often annoys gallery people and curators arranging works. They sometimes see it as a sign of laziness. And no matter what we create, a viewer will bring their own perspective. So keep titling your work. But do it for YOU, because it’s your art and you care about it.
And just because this one gallery has this weird rule I’ve never heard of before doesn’t mean ALL of them do. Keep looking for that right fit for your art. There are people in this world that will be happier for having your art in their life, but that only happens if you keep putting it out there <3
I’ve recently watched a British landscape painting competition (2015 or 17) where the jurors were disparaging one painting for having a signature on the front. I had never heard of this.
I have heard of painters “branding” their work
O sign my work on the front as discreetly as possible.
No dates until it sells
Thanks for sharing Eric! Yeah. People have all kinds of rules. But everyone’s rules are different. I hope this post helps people feel more confident in their own decision.
I sign my first and last name and the last 2 digits of the of my work. I’ve been doing that since I was in highschool. I also put the title on the back, the medium and a little history or information about the art work. My highschool art teacher taught me this plus to photograph your work and keep a portfolio.
Thanks for sharing Kay!
I am beginning to produce more art since I am retired. My confusion is this. I married 20 years ago and my husband died 10 years later. I used his name and my first initial of first name and last name before my married last name.
I have also signed with first initial and maiden name and married name. it makes such a long name that I’m not totally pleased yet.
The first 50 years of my life it was my maiden name, PERIOD. Many people know me that way.. The last 29 years it has been my married name. But noe I am starting to produce art regularly and getting involved with galleries and considering a web site.
What to do?
Hi Mary! This is a great question. I’ve been wondering this myself since I married and changed my last name. So far, I’ve kept my maiden name on my work. I may change this in the future but I figured it was easier to keep the name I’ve already used in exhibitions, etc.
Since you’ve changed your name and are in a new chapter of your art life, this could be an opportunity to sign with a new signature or name! My honest opinion is: do what you want. I think it’s MUCH more important that you make your art! Let the art historians sort out the provenance of art and make the art you are called to create.
Hi I married and divorced and remarried. While in first marriage I used my initials to sign but then changed to my first and middle name. That has served me well since those names wont change and I like the sound of it. So now I sign in cursive Deanna Lynn and usually on the side or edge of the art. I like the idea of putting info on back too. At any rate, Mary, you might want to consider using your first and middle name too. Happy creating to all!
Deanna thank you for sharing your signing journey with us! What a great idea.
Hi there! I know you made this comment a couple years ago but I just had to respond. Ive been reading blogs and articles for days now about how to choose your artists signature. I recently got married and have been trying to decide if signing just my first and middle name, which is what I’d like to do going forward, was too unusual of an idea. And after not reading a single mention of anyone signing like that, I was feeling apprehensive. Then I found your comment about how not only do you do just that, but we have the same uncommon first name, and your middle name is my grandmothers. Such a crazy coincidence! I’ll take it as a sign that I should sign my art with just my first and middle name. Thanks, Deanna!
So cool Deanna! Thank you for posting <3
I have been an artist for most of my life (about 70 years). As a very young artist I signed my first and last names. But for the past 30 or more years I only sign my first name in the lower right corner and sign it in calligraphy. And I do it for my own gratification; I want viewers to know that I did it!! 😊
🙂 Sound great Leila!
I work in pencils mainly, I have a very distinctive signature and use my name Jo with the year I’ve done the piece in. i don’t ever stick to bottom left or right it will be either or I go with where it looks best and in some of my pieces I’ve had to put it just below the collar bone due detailing and at right angles also due to details within the pieces. Some of the pieces it almost becomes part of the piece.
Jo I like the idea that our signature becomes a part of the art. Thank you for sharing!
I’m not an artist so from my perspective I want your signed piece. Date and any other info you care to pAin it for me.ut on the reverse so that I have the back story (pun intended) of the piece. Please sign it for me.
Thanks Doreen for sharing! 🙂
When I started signing my pieces I used the first letyer of my first name (p) and the first letter og my last name (d). At some point I accidentally combined them, and have continued to use it because I liked it. So I use one circle with the down stroke of the p on the left side and the up stroke of the d on the right side. Wish I could show it. But just imagine a single circle with a down and up stroke on the appropriate side for each letter.
Sounds creative and fun Pegi! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
I sign with my initials, the first name initial is capital and the middle and last name are lower case. Usually somewhere on the bottom right. I liked the idea of a hidden signature. Will have to figure that one out.
I generally use my initials too. Thanks for sharing Feb!
I have always signed my works no matter how they are, good, bad, completed or not. I do not know why I do it but I feel I should. The date is important for me as I can track my progress and relate the works to the period of time and the situation I was in. I started doubting about signing my works because a university teacher once made fun of me infront of all others about an sketch I had for an idea. But I got my answer now, thanks to you! I just do it, no matter it’s wrong or right or my works are gonna be so important some day or not. I do it for myself. I just write down my first name and nickname with a fast handwriting. And like one of the commenters above I sign abstract works at the back because I think in abstract works any element and even dots can affect on the whole frame.
Anahita thank you for sharing! I’m so sorry a teacher mocked you: that’s terrible behavior that has nothing to do with your art and everything to do with the teacher and something it triggered inside of them. Keep doing it for you. <3
I just want to be on your mailing list. thanks
David I can’t just add you, that would be illegal and unethical. You can sign up to my list here if you are still interested: https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/59398?v=6
I use my nickname on my work which has nothing to do with my real name. Would that be okay considering it’s a male name and I’m female?
Haley you do YOU. That’s my whole point in this article. I think you should do exactly what feels right to you as an artist. And ignore anyone who tells you what you “have” to do. <3 Thanks for reading and for asking!
Hi, I never sign the front of the work, since I think it’s a distraction from the image. I sometimes sign the sides of the work, if the canvas is stretched on a gallery depth stretcher.
I also sign the back of the work, and I also glue on a stamp, and an image with the text from the poem that goes with the painting, (I’m a poet and a painter and combine the two). I also put my fingerprint into the wet glaze over the collaged bits. It’s not that I’m paranoid or anything….
We all have our own systems around our art and hats part of why I wrote this because I want us all to feel permission to be ourselves! Even when it comes to how we sign our art.
I use my signature to balance my picture. Sometimes it needs the weight of a good black splodge!
Only started after retired senior art therapy started me with gift books.in our assisted living we started a morning hour of working together . Loved it and started drawing on my own with the help of a book drawing and painting animals by Bill Tilton and basic drawing by Walter Foster. I am a realist and have enjoyed both books. I now will sign my drawings and date them for my grandchildren Signing my childhood nickname Toots.
I LOVE that you are signing them Toots. <3 I'm so glad you are enjoying art! Thanks for sharing Anne and happy creating <3
Like reading these.ideas about signing your own art work. I sign mine lower right corner using my inticals oak and the date made. on the back full name subject and what used doing the art work. Example. oak 4 16 18 Alice o inter mountain scene. Thanks aok
Thanks for sharing Alice!
I sign bottom right, my signature and sometimes just my first Initial and last full name. My last name starts with a “K” so as I sign I let the letter sweep down and I add a tiny cross. My paintings are also signed on the back with my full name, name of painting and my favorite scripture
Prov. 3: 5-6. I always add a line of poetry or scripture on the bottom. The painting is only dated after it is sold—-
Thanks for sharing Gail! I like the idea of dating it when it sells.
Hi, Great site. I got a tattoo on my 19th b’day I had designed it with my name written in Elvish from the Tolkien dictionary.
Though occasionally for things other than for-sale art I combine all three initials,the “B”s back to back with the “I” in the middle. Think of a number 8 with a vertical line through the center.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for sharing Brenda!
I don’t normally sign the front of my work partly because I feel it distracts from the work. I work in mixed media and sometimes I use many layers so have found signing with paint very difficult and also feel pressure to do so. And don’t have as much control as I’d like with the brush. So I sign the back with a pen and date it as well. If I do a print or drawing, I tend to sign in the front.
Thanks for sharing Carmen!
I’ve always signed my work but I never date it. Sometimes I see an older piece and realize that it would look so much better if I made one little change or even a big one. When it’s done, I could use it as a fresh piece and I wouldn’t want it to be dated ten years before. I just sold a big white poppy that I have shown at several festivals and shows. All it took was a little line work with a paint pen to make it pop! And it sold as soon as I hung it on the wall.
I think you are so right Rosemary. Sometimes people see older dates and make judgments and we can after time want to revisit old works. Great idea and thank you for sharing!
Thank you Carrie for the article! I started painting 2 years ago when I retired and have never known where or how to sign my work. I sign first two initials and last name either bottom rt. or lt. whichever works better with the painting. I also signature and date the back.
Hi Charlotte, I’m so glad you find this article helpful 🙂 Your strategy sounds great!
I sign with my initials I always paint in a dogs paw print somewhere in the painting. If it’s noticed then the buyer proves to me their interested in the painting and looked at it intentsly and had great interest in what they purchased
Love it! Thanks for sharing Dan.
I have always signed any project that I did with a date and I also take a picture. I use my first initial C. my maiden name initial O. and my married initial G.( C.O.G.) Also somewhere in my watercolors I will put 3 dots incorporated somewhere into the painting. My initials go in the bottom right corner.I like taking the picture to prove to myself that I CAN do it!
Thanks for sharing Chris!! 🙂 I love the idea.
I use my initials on the bottom right corner or sometimes in an inconspicuous area depending on the piece (CTS – in a looping fashion that almost forms a figure 8, to give you a visual) and also the month/year or just the year…
Thanks for sharing CT!
I came up with an easy to read and easy to paint stylized print of my nickname “Dani” and last name that I add in the bottom right corner of my drawings and paintings. I do graphic designs under a company name. Those usually aren’t signed, but are sometimes watermarked with the company name across them for protection.
Nice Dani, thanks for sharing 🙂
Just for fun, as my surname is Hart I sign my watercolours Heidi Hart’ist
The video was the only part of this I watched I didn’t read the text so that is all I ca comment on you asked if we sign our art amid we do do we sign it the same every time I don’t sign everything and I’m kinda new and just trying to get involved in the art world but when I do sign it it lookes kinda like this DREA and underneath 2K18 or what ever year it happens to be so far I’m the only one that really see’s my art so I don’t find it necessary all the time….
Thanks for sharing Andrea! There is no right or wrong answer. That’s the point. 🙂
I’ve signed my earlier works with my initials MSR with the R stylized in the middle like a monogram. Then I started signing with my full name Melissa Suzanne Ryan, but not sure I want to continue. Melissa means bee, Suzanne means lily so I considered a stylized bee and lily graphic. I usually paste an info slip on the back containing my contact info, my bee lily logo or colorful art logo, and information about the painting. I will also sign my name on the back, the year, and the title directly on the surface.
Thanks for sharing Suzy! Like your idea of the stylized graphic 🙂
I do not like the pornography that surrounds my art images when I search for my name online, and press the images button at the top. I have also lost faith at the moment in believing that an art site will sell art, my passion is there and people see that, but it should not take me an eternity to get the imagery sold. I do not know how an Artist can get ahead having rude images around them and it is controlled by the internet. Women have rights.
Also, I put the copyright symbol on my artworks to give it some protection at least as it is a fact that art is copied from the internet. Intellectual property protection is up to the individual, and websites I think need to take more care of our imagery, somehow. A signature looks like peanuts one could say! Take care all.
If someone else has your name or a similar one and has connected it to content you do not like, I suggest rebranding your art and name in a way that would let people complete a different google search. What about Rachel Fitz art for example? The other strategy is to study SEO and take SEO measures to reclaim your name on the internet. That would be a long game strategy but it could work.
An art site will never sell your art. I wrote about this in an article for Abundant Artist here: https://theabundantartist.com/perfect-platform-sell-art/ Unfortunately many artists think once they have a website to share their art somehow people will find them, or if they put their art up on Etsy or Society 6 that just putting up the art means they will be found. We should put in as much effort marketing (if not more) than the time we put in making our art. That is, of course, if artists wish to sell their art. I don’t think we should have to do that either unless we really want to.
I also have an article about artwork being stolen. I know this is a concern many artists face and I discuss that here: https://www.artiststrong.com/digital-theft-and-art/
Thanks for sharing Rachel, good luck to you.
I’ve always signed my art work even as a 5 yr old, though it’s changed as my hand writing improved. In recent years I’ve added a stylized crown to represent my maiden name.
I love how some people incorporate a graphic element to their signature. Thank you for sharing Nancy!
I sign my artist signature the exact same way, first and last name, on the front of every piece I create. It looks nothing like my real signature but I changed the style of each letter to make it legible and elegant at the same time. I try to stick to bottom right or left side, and even as I’m developing an abstract piece often try to keep that in mind. However, when I’m using resin it doesn’t always work out that way. In those rare cases, In addition, I always sign each piece with the same signature, the date & my web site address on the back of each piece I sell.
Thanks for sharing Jana!
I use all 4 initials- first name, middle name, maiden name, married name- in connected cursive (lowercase) as if it were a name in itself. lsme, front lower corner.
Thanks for sharing Susan! I use my initials too 🙂
I use my thumbprint and a <3 for my signature. Have been doing that since I was a little girl and it just kind of stuck. I also sign the back along with a sticker of a non profit organization that gets my donation everytime a piece sells.
I love all of it!
My art instructor advises each of us to sign our art on the bottom front along with the date it was finished. I sign on the bottom right corner. I my you paint it and like it why not let people know that the art is yours. If your proud of your art Sign it!! If not fix it then sign it. After all God blesses you with your talent!
Thanks for sharing Bertha!
I do sign the front of the painting with my full name in a location that that will “hide” it and in a colour maybe two shades darker or lighter than the painting. I also write my name and year on the back.
I do have a question that has garnered debate within my circle of art friends…….does the signing have to be of the same medium as the painting or say one uses an an architectural pen on a watercolour, is the painting now considered mixed media?
Hi MaryAnn! Great Q. Some people like to stick to the same medium but really there is no hard and fast rule. That’s the point of this article – do what aligns with your goals and what makes you feel good. For some, that means signing in ink on their painting, others it means getting a super small paintbrush and sticking to the same medium.
I enjoy working with all mediums. That being said, I sign my work with an M and an S sideways below the M. It looks rather like a little cowboy hat.
Fun! Thanks for sharing Melissa 🙂
I use my 3 initials all placed in a certain way where 2 of them form the 3rd. However, I have an issue on figuring out what the best way to sign my prints is. I have looked through many other websites to try and get some information about signing prints when the original work has already been signed. But I haven’t really found a specific answer. Only the general rule of thumb on signing a print. I want to start selling limited edition prints of my work. And like I have said they are signed. I was wondering if I should still sign the print on the outer white frame or not? If yes, do I still use the same “signature” I use or my regular everyday signature? And if not, besides the number of the edition, is there any other information I should write on the print? Any information/thoughts you could provide would be greatly appreciated! Thank you
Hi Karen! Traditionally you sign on the white border of a print immediately under the artwork, in pencil. Today lots of people use ink though. So. If I recall correctly the numbering is done on the left side, the middle is the title with quotation marks around them and your signature is on the right. You can sign it any way you want. I find a lot of artists sign the same way they do on their artworks.
Hi Carrie I print my last name only lower right and the year ’19’.Im doing a series which I also number.
Nice, thanks for sharing!
Yes I do sign my paintings some times. I do not have any specific signature, but rather try to mark it with initials as insignificant as possible. The idea is not to draw any attention away from the picture. Often someone in the family wants a painting and they ask me to sign and date it. I have sold a few painting through a local art studio and these I did sign with initials. In general I paint for the enjoyment I get out of it and at present love landscape painting.
Thanks for sharing Brian!
As an iconographer, I follow the rule of not adding signature to front of icons. But, then, traditional icon “writing” (not usually referred to as “painting”) doesn’t fall into art category. Iconographers do sign and name the icon on the back of the panel with usual inscription of naming the icon, followed by “For the Glory of God by the hand of ………(iconographer’s name – small print.). Just commenting here because some people have asked about signature. I do sign my secular artworks on front right, but like some here, I have not found a set style yet (after 7 decades!) Much appreciate the article and posts.
Thanks for sharing Patricia! Great perspective to share in here.
I do a small signature that doesn’t take over the painting. I try to find a spot down the bottom where it will only be noticed a bit.
Sounds great Paula thank you for sharing!
I need to sign all my work, they go back to 2001, but don’t remember day or month as didn’t sign or date any of them after finishing them, only remember the year approximately.
Also I’m a street artist but mainly work on canvas now, I’m not sure whether to sign the street art inspired paintings with my street art name, and the other ones with my name??? Can I do this???
I’d be grateful for advice on this xx
Hi Tanya! You can add year, or not. I’ve stopped putting the year on the front of the work, I only use my initials now. And you can sign ANYWAY you want to. That sounds appropriate to me!
HI: For forty years I’ve signed both my first and last name in script usually on the front right side, but sometimes I make my signature part of the art or somewhat hidden in the art. I NEVER put the year on a piece. I don’t want potential buyers to think it hadn’t sold in years prior. I also work in many medium and the type or style usually tells me where to put my signature. I don’t want observers to wonder who painted the piece. On pieces sold I will sometimes put the year and title on the back with an inscription to the buyer.
To each his own!
Hi Joan! Thanks for being here! (I approve comments before they post, for first timers).
I’ve heard that advice before too: to not include the dates if you are selling your work. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’m a nurse and sign my initials with the year just as I did when we signed on paper.
Thanks for sharing Monica!
Thank you for this article ! Have been working with many different mediums over the years but have never put any items on exhibit until now ( next week ! ) so have appreciated all the comments above. I have occocasionally signed some items as gifts for friends but also struggle now with how to sign (which combination of initials,maiden name, current name, etc.) On pieces that traditionally are not signed in the front ( Felted Needle Art anyone ? 😉 Lots of ideas for notation. I also have “hid” my name in a work on occasion due to having some works go missing in college. Now I tell others to do the same since our technical society makes it too easy to have something copied off the internet. My heart goes out to those who have already had this happen. Watermarks are easy to create using a translucent font in your Paintbrush program if you use Windows and or any other basic paint program that is out there. Can take photo of your piece then email or to home computer so you can then add a watermark to it in paint program. Thanks for all the ideas !
So glad to have your contributions too MJ. Thanks for being here!
Hello I sign the pieces I am happy with 😁. Others I leave unsigned. That’s how I deal with it. 🤗
ah! That’s an idea. Thanks for sharing Mary!
I think signing my work is a distraction from the painting. If I sign any of my works, it is on the edges which are wrapped around the wood frame on which the canvas is stretched. That way the my initials are not distracting from the work.
Thanks for your perspective Mary!
I own a boutique and hold art exhibits there. Recently an artist stated in her bio that her Grandfather is artist, Pasquale DeMariano and that she was signing his name to her work in his honor. I’m not an artist, I’m in advertising/marketing and this sounds like a huge copyright issue… or some issue… I’m not well-versed in art law. But it just seems wrong. Do you have any info on this issue (you’re name came up when I googled my question).
Thanks for any guidance you can give, Carrie!
Hi Karen. I wish I could help. I have no clue. Personally, I would see that as a question of ethics. If you are uncomfortable with that choice, I would approach it from that standpoint since it also impacts your brand trust. Otherwise I’d encourage you to seek the advice of an IP lawyer.
Hey Carrie 🙂 I just bought illustrations from my employee. They were paid projects, meaning she drew them specifically for my business. I bought all rights to use except resale. I was surprised when I received the drawings and they have her business name on them like a signature. I don’t want to put the illustrations up now because it may confuse people about what my business actually is. Are there standards around this?
I wish I could help. I’m not a lawyer and this sounds like a question for an IP lawyer!
I would encourage you to review the contract you agreed upon one more time with a fine-tooth comb. Generally, I’ve not heard of people leaving their signature on brand items. I certainly wouldn’t be thrilled if the logos I purchased to be part of the Artist Strong brand were signed with someone else’s name.
It sounds like a difficult conversation coming your way.
I find it hard to believe that Michael Angelo craved his name on Our Lady’s chest.
Then I suggest you visit Rome someday and go to the Vatican where you can see La Pieta.
I have signed my art work since third grade. I have always used my three initials in lower case “dbg. It has a sort of logo look with three circles with extending straight lines . This is probably considered improper in some circles. However, I came up with this as a child and have used it for more than fifty years so, no turning back now. Besides (and I would recommend this mindset for other artists) it’s my art and i will sign it as I wish.
I hope you read the article, because that was entirely my point. Do what you want!
Yes I did read it and was encouraged by what was written . Thanks
Hi Carrie, Thank you for this article and putting things into perspective. I have a question about signing open edition prints made from original art work. What year should be put on the print? The year it was printed or the year the original was made?
Angela, great question! I don’t usually date my open editions when I offer them. When you date limited edition prints, it’s the date of the print run of that specific edition, not the date of the original work. I’m not sure how it would look to have a unique date for each print of an open edition. I hope this helps!
I sign my paintings only if i find a sufficient space to do. Otherwise, not. I sign my paintings in cursive writing or calligraphy. It really looks very beautiful.
I’m sure it does Sushant
I love all of the different perspectives in signing artwork, and how many of these decisions were made when we were kids/teenagers. I started signing my paintings with my initials when I was a kid because that is how my great great grandfather signed his work. I guess I grew up admiring his work, and was influenced by the style. I’m in my forties, and certainly not changing now. The only decision I do make when signing it, is to mix a color that fits in tonally with the painting, and is not too far away in value from the spot I am signing. From a certain distance, the initials are not that easy to see, so as not to distract from the work.
Hal I think it’s awesome your signature is part of your family lineage! Too cool. Great idea to keep the signature in tonal harmony. Thanks so much for sharing, I too enjoy all the many ways we choose to sign our art. 🙂
I love this article, life and SIGNATURES are always a struggle. I read through all the comments and their great imput. I (previously) went back and signed my name to sketches I made figuring once I was gone my family might enjoy them and my signature “anchors “ them or adds historical significance. Still working on my signature style. Thanks everyone.
Thanks for reading Jo! I do love the conversation that has continued here in the comments. So many great ideas.
I just purchased some Giclee prints off Etsy from a very prolific and talented artist. I was extremely dismayed to get my prints and not find the artist’s signature anywhere on them. I honestly couldn’t believe that the original artwork that the prints were made from was not signed and thought that maybe they had been accidentally cropped off during the reprinting process, but according to the artist, she purposefully did not sign them.
I did frame the pieces and put them up in my home, but I took care to print off the artist’s biography and tape it to the back of each print. However, I will not be purchasing more pieces from this artist, even though I love her work, it’s that big of a deal to me. I feel that an unsigned piece of artwork is unfinished and holds a lot less value, even as a print. As a further note, the famous Bob Ross talked about this on almost all of his shows and made a point to sign all his paintings while on air. Tens of thousands of his paintings contained his signature. (Unfortunately the TV network threw away almost all of them, but that is besides the point.) My point is that as a consumer of artwork, I will not purchase a reprint of a painting that has never been signed and will do better due diligence to purchase only ones that are. It’s just not worth it to me, no matter how beautiful the artwork is, to buy an unsigned piece – again, even if it is a cheap print! I hope artists keep that in mind. I can’t be the only one to feel this way.
Hi Monica, thanks for taking the time to share your story and perspective! There are two kinds of prints: limited edition and unlimited edition prints. Generally speaking limited edition prints are numbered and signed (means only there are only so many printed at all, ever) to increase their value and these can be high priced. Unlimited edition prints are sometimes signed because the painting printed had a signature in it, but they are generally not signed by the artist. Unlimited edition prints means they will never be limited by a certain number of prints and thus are more affordable. I hope this also offers you some insight as a consumer!