Friday, 24 July 2009

Signing your works of art

This article was first published in my newsletter "Notes From My French Easel" – June 2009. Follow the link to subscribe to the newsletter.

Signing a work is like affixing your brand on it. The work becomes truly yours.

One function of the signature is to tell yourself (and others) that you judge that your work is finished. I occasionally rework paintings that have been signed, but this is the exception. To me, seeing the signature as “stop” sign is good practice. You could work again and again on a painting and try to make it perfect. At some point, it just makes it worst because the painting feels laboured. Knowing when to stop is part of the art and a difficult decision. Practically, I often wait a few weeks before signing a painting to make sure that the work is finished.

I see my signature has part of the composition. What I mean by this is that, when I am in the middle of a painting, I know where the signature will go and I treat the signature as one visual element to balance the composition. In term of size, the size of the signature should remain proportional to the scale of the work. In other word, your signature is not your work and a big signature will only detract the viewer from the actual painting.

You can sign your work in many ways:

  • Horizontally or vertically

  • Your full name or your initials

  • At the front or at the back of the work

  • Should be still visible when the work is framed (so remember to leave space for the mount or frame)

In any case, I believe a signature should be legible (so the work can be identified as yours) and somehow consistent. This is important in order to facilitate later identification of your works. In case you are using initials or a monogram, I strongly recommend that you write your full name at the back of your work.

Legibility requirement also mean that the signature should be on a quiet background, not across a busy pattern. Regarding contrast, I have tried using black as well as light colours (for dark background). Now, most of the time, I am using a light hue of red, which I found work well with most background colours in landscape and is noticeable without being too dark. This is a matter of personal taste.

Your signature may vary and evolve over several years, however you should try to be consistent and avoid signing in a different way each time. Your signature is part of your style.

Related articles

To sign or not to sign (your artwork) by Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizBlog

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1 comment:

Betsy Rogers said...

Thanks for the signing notes. I am sometimes not sure where/how my art should be signed, your article was most helpful.
Betsy Rogers