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27.9.09

To sign or not to sign your two-dimensional work, where and how?

Renee Phillips, "The Artrepreneur Coach" (Author, Artist, and Director: Manhattan Arts International, and The Healing Power of ART,) just opened up a discussion on the LinkedIn group of the Manhattan Arts International about this theme.

I find her questions very thought provoking as I'm sure many of you artists out there, like me, have thought about them many times. In this way, I want to share my response to her questions with you, so you know a little more about me.

Renee Phillips asked:
"Artists who create original two-dimensional art, where do you sign your art work, on the front, back or both? What is the general consensus? Assuming there is a current trend regarding signature placement, do you follow it? Is it important to you to have your name visible on your art work? Do you place the date of your piece on the back of the painting? What material or medium do you use to sign?

My response:
I'm always debating on what suits best with the piece I'm working on. But as a general rule, I like to have my signature visible and no date. I sign and date the back as well, just as an added bonus. In this way, the buyer is certain that's buying an original piece of art.

In any case, if I feel the signature is going to be in the way, especially when working on mixed media, in a more abstract way, I try using a color that will blend with the rest so it does not take away from the message I want to convey. Sort of inconspicuous. Even sometimes I have no other option, but to limit my signature just to the back of the piece.

Now, when I’ve done landscapes and other realistic themes I would sign in a diagonal, somewhere in the lower portion of the canvas, preferably on the right, but some times on the left (depending on where it fits best). In this cases, I like to use a solid color (blue, gray, or brown) depending on what matches better with the particular piece, and sign it, using a very fine brush, so it's not too bold ("in your eye".) 

However, this practice, which I don't regret, caused me an entry to an exhibition. The juror just couldn't get over my signature, as I was told. He would’ve wanted me to sign discretely at the bottom of the canvas instead, as old masters used to do it. Well, it was a Plein Aire exhibition, what would you expect?

My thought is that your signature is one of your assets, that can set you apart from the rest of the artists out there, is what identifies you as you. So unless you have a very distinctive and unique style that speaks for itself and tells the world it's yours, your signature is your second best tool. 

Imagine if someone would have told Picasso not to sign big and bold and anywhere he pleased?  
Bull with Bullfighter
Picture use to probe a point
from http://www.squidoo.com


I feel that, when you make your signature recognizable, you're then freer to experiment with new ideas and techniques, to try different mediums and approaches, and your creativity will have no limits. It is your signature what, at the end, will tie everything together as your body of work…your legacy.
Just like Picasso did!

Going back to my Plein Aire exhibition incident, I guess I was just starting to get bored of seeing everyone in the field painting the same "scapes", that my signature became my "escape", what made me  ME, identifying my little seascape as MINE. Besides, it kind of balanced that piece ;)

Regarding Renee's question on the material or medium one uses to sign with; it all depends on the media I'm working on. I use oils if the painting was done in oils, acrylics if it was done in acrylics, and sometimes archival ink markers (very fine) when working on paper collages. Now, when making hand pulled prints (printmaking), I sign those the traditional way, at the bottom right, below the printed area, with a sharp clean pencil. The signature on the back of the painting also depends on the material used as substrate to hold the painting: Paper = pencil; Canvas = fine ink markers; Wood = Sharpie... What I cannot stress enough is the importance of being consistent with how I sign.


I would love to hear your comments, please feel free to post them here!

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