An artists asks:
Signing your work
“Where do most people sign their work? On the front or back? Clearly and boldly or somehow embedded into the painting/drawing? I have been signing mine on the front but I sometimes wonder if it detracts from the painting… All opinions appreciated!”
We received some helpful responses from other artists on our forum:
This is very pertinent to me at the moment, just about to have my first exhibition. I’m not signing at all on the front. And I’m being a bit odd in not signing the back either. I wanted to use a Japanese hanko stamp, but was worried that the ink would show through from the back. So, I’m stamping and dating the back of the mount, and then putting my sticker (with all my contact details etc) on the back of the frame….
I don’t think I could leave a work unsigned, I find the signing part very therapeutic, once signed that’s it, no more fiddling! And I often place it in a very inconspicuous spot too! Be proud! 😆
But I suppose it would depend on the style of work, I can image that it could completely spoil a very delicate / simplistic piece.
There are those group shows which request no signatures on the front because the point of the show is to buy work you like regardless of whether or not you know the artist. Pretty nice idea.
I sign my paintings on the back. I find a signature on the front of my work is always a disruption.
When I see paintings with signatures on the front it usually overwhelms the painting and it is all I see, like a dark stain on the front of a white top.
I just saw a trailer for a video of Oil Sketches by Peter Brown where at the end he scratched his name in the thick oil paint with the end of the brush handle. It looked like it might be much more “embedded” and less intrusive.
An artist friend of mine has created a small mark, which she uses instead of a signature. It’s quite fun trying to spot it in the picture and it’s not intrusive.
I always sign on the front but, as an animal portrait artist, I keep it very light and low key so as not to detract from the subject. Buyers do tend to look to see if it’s signed – and, hey, it’s your blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it, so be proud and sign it!!!!
I personally sign on the front [almost hidden] AND the back. I do this for one very important reason, and that being, to protect my work. It is an unfortunate fact but, there are people out there who do not think twice about removing/disguising an artist’s signature and re-signing as their own work! I actually know of two occasions where this has happened!
So, to #tamsinhaggis, unless you have some other way of recording/copywriting your work, you are leaving yourself open to dishonest people…. what about ‘hiding’ your signature somewhere within your actual work?
I sign my paintings at the bottom right of the painting, sometimes with the name of the painting, usually with a 4B pencil. I always leave space at the bottom of a painting for my signature. On the back of the painting I sign my name, the title of the painting, date, type of paper used and the brand of colors. I also keep a database of this information for my own future reference because it’s not always easy to remember these details after framing. Concerning online security… there are several digital watermarking companies that sell subscriptions, but it’s quite easy to make a semi-transparent copyright image to add to the painting if it is displayed online (and saved as a separate file) that doesn’t detract from the painting but allows online viewers to know that it’s your work.
I have had the same dilemma myself where the signature could detract from the subject, and after many deliberations over many pictures I have the solution, I now wright my signature in the picture one tone different in an unobtrusive place i.e. lamp black on black gesso is my favorite as it is hardly detectable in the picture but will come out in a photo
then I can sign it still if I need to
I was just delivering work to an exhibition and saw another artist delivering his work – deep edge canvases. He had signed them all on the side since they wouldn’t be framed. It looked really good.
I did it a few times a long time ago but now often paint on standard depth canvases that need framing.
I sign paintings on canvas on the back.
But work on paper I sign on the front in the border.
This was originally published on our art supplies forum.