You’ve finished your painting. There’s nothing left to add, simplify or modify. You are done, except for one last flourish…your signature.
Beginning and even more experienced artists often wonder where and how to sign their work. Should I use my initials? Last name? Where should I sign it? How should I sign it? Here are some answers to these frequently asked questions:
#1 Make your signature LEGIBLE.
Starting right now you want people to know who you are. It is better to use some part of your name then only initials – I promise there are more artists out there with your same initials. (OK, OK, I know that Diebenkorn signed RD to his paintings, but remember, he was lucky enough to be relatively famous in his mid twenties, so everyone already knew who RD was!)
If your name is unique, your last name may suffice. If your surname is common, you will want to include at least your first name’s initial, possibly a middle initial, or even your first name. You may also use only your first name especially if it is unique and if you want your work identified with you that way.
#2 Sign it on the FRONT!
Your signature is part of your art. Consider this when thinking of placement. Some artists always sign in the same color and location on every work. Others change color and placement according to the composition (I do the latter). Either way is fine, but the placement should work with the painting just like your other marks.
OK, some people prefer to sign on the back. I understand that, and sometimes a signature on the front just does not fit into your painting. There are two sides to this coin or canvas (so to speak) and to this conversation. I still feel it is best to sign on the front when you can.
#3 Your “Chop”
In parts of Asia, people would use a “seal” or “chop” to sign documents, contracts and art. Your signature is your “chop.” It should be recognizable and represent you. It should also be consistent in its form (design). Take some time to consider and possibly even “design” your signature.
#4 Brush, Pen, Ink?
Artists use all kinds of tools to sign their work. Just make certain that whatever tool you use, the signature is PERMANENT. Regular Sharpies can fade over time so they are not a good choice. There are some “Oil Paint” Sharpies which can be used, but in all truth, have not been fully tested as to their permanence since they are such a new product. It’s probably best to sign your work in the medium that you used to create it. And, of course, if your medium (oil, acrylic, etc) is thick enough you can always scratch your name back into the wet paint!
So, go forth and paint and take ownership of your endeavors. It’s time to SIGN IT!!