How to Sign a Painting

Why should you sign your artwork. Where to sign on a painting. How to develop signature style. Signature signing tool. Designing your signature.

An artist's signature on the artwork is more important than you think. When you sign a painting, it shows that you are taking ownership of the artwork. People can quickly identify you as the artist even after the painting has been sold and moved  worldwide.

Signed art pieces are fundamental for many reasons like 

  • It indicates the painting is complete and ready to hang or for sale
  • Signature tells about you as an artist
  • You receive the credit you deserve
  • If any copyright issues arise, having a signature will help
  • If the artwork hangs in someone's house, people would often ask the owner about the artist. The owner may not remember the artist name
  • When you're not around to spot your artwork(one cannot be here forever!), signature defines it for you

Ignoring the significance of your signature may result in all kinds of problems in the future work. Two major signature problems that often occur are:

1. No Signature 

Many artists nowadays don't even bother to sign their artwork. Why?  

They believe their work is so identifiable that everybody will automatically know who did it. Maybe artists think everyone will continue to understand who they are for all eternity, or perhaps they are wrong. 

So take the thumb rule - undoubtedly sign your art. It is important.

2. The Signature is not legible and clear

The signature and name must be readable without much effort. It must blend in and match with the rest of your painting without looking out of place. Legible signature is appreciated by everyone.

Rule number two is to sign your name clear enough for anybody to read it.

Tips on signing your painting

Signing your artwork

  • It is not necessary to sign in front of the art but be sure you clearly sign.  
  • Otherwise, label your artwork by attaching it to the work. 
  • It can be on the base or the sides or the edges as long as it's somewhere. 
  • Include key information like date and title at the back of the painting.
  • Artists sign their titles illegibly for various reasons, like unreadable signature includes a mystique or cache about it, and 'only particular people can read it'.  
  • Perhaps, like some artists who do not sign at all, they believe their job is recognizable, and no one could possibly forget that they are or ever question who left their own art. That is not the truth, though.
 
 

 

 

Signature Styles

Sadly if people cannot read your signature, they will not be able to know the artist. Sign in such a way that people can read the signature. An illegible signature is not an indication that you're incredibly creative. 

You're the artist, so let it be understood. Your regular signature may look good on important letters and bank cheques but is not the best signature for your artworks. 

You need your signature to become unmistakable and transparent so that viewers and collectors can instantly read your name and recognize you.

Design Signature

Experiment by signing different legible signatures on a piece of paper. If you want to use a specific style in your signature, check out fonts online. 

Compose it several times on paper with variants and then decide on the best one, the one that feels 'just right' for you. Share it with people you confide in for a genuine opinion.

Keep it consistent. Signatures should be consistent in size, coloration, place, design, and other details. So sign all your artwork in the exact same way.

This way, people who aren't necessarily familiar with all the styles of art you've produced within your career will be able to recognize your signature, and therefore recognize it as you.

The same is applicable if you use a logo or an artist's monograph, viewers will need to have some way of understanding what the marks signify.

Full title? Initials? Surname only?

Does your title sound more striking if you use just your initials plus surname? You can use your logo if you have any. You are the best person to judge which one to use for a long lasting impression that people will remember.

One must avoid signing with their initials or a monogram as people may not identify you as the artist. For now, some people will recognize your initials or monogram, but years and decades later, they will forget the name. Your painting could eventually become unidentifiable if your full or last name isn't on it.

Avoid using a catchy signature

The signature should be noticeable and straightforward  enough when people stop and looked at the painting. After looking through the complete painting, they can find it but should not be the first thing people's eyes are drawn towards.

Your signature shouldn't be so daring or overbearing that it really interferes with the composition. If your signature is eye catchy, it can take away interest from your painting.

Contrast or conflicting signature with the background will be less appealing. Instead, a signature that blends well seem like it belongs to the artwork. Choose a color that goes well with your painting.

Add a Date

Generally, adding a date you've completed a painting is helpful. When you initially start as an artist, you'll probably have the ability to remember what year you painted a particular piece.

But after you've been painting for many decades, you might be less confident as to when you created that work. You can write the date at the back of the painting or on the border.

It is a good habit to add date on work since you and others (collectors) will have the ability to see how a painter's work has developed over time. 

You can elect to write the date on the rear of your canvas or framework. Some artists choose to place only the year on the front, and add month and year on the back.

Remember, putting a date on a painting does not limit your capability to sell it. Art are not like meals. It does not have any expiry date or best before date!

If buyers want the latest works, there wouldn't be an auction market for older paintings!

Signature Location

Where to sign your artwork

Though you can choose where to sign on your painting, it usually resides bottom left or bottom right, 1-2 inches away from the border of the page or the canvas, accounting any framing and mounts that will come.

Consistency is vital, where you put your name. Next time people see your artwork, they will know exactly where to check for the signature.

Some artists hide their signatures in different places, like somewhere inside the painting, to make it a less obvious. 

Make it easy for people who look for your signature. If you decide to keep it inside the painting, ensure it blends with the painting.

Signing Tool

Sign your art in the exact same medium in which you produce it. Whether it's pastel, watercolor, acrylic, or any medium, artists often apply the same medium used from the artwork. 

You need a small, high quality round brush (liner) with a steady hand and confidence. It does require practice to accomplish the perfect sign you desire. Your brush needs to be big enough to hold enough paint to finish the stroke in one go.

Also, consider creating signatures in thick felt pen, for situations when a bolder statement is essential. Always sign your painting before applying the varnish. It will protect your signature and the painting.

Limited Edition

When you produce a limited edition printing, it is helpful to indicate the number of prints that have been created. Some buyers will be attracted to the concept that there are just a few replicas, potentially making the art more valuable.

Hope now it is clear the importance of signing an artwork! Going forward, include your legible signature somewhere in your art piece so people can identify you!