Signing your art.

How do you sign your art? Twice in the past few weeks I have had conversations with friends about a work of art they own or saw elsewhere. In both instances they were interested in seeing more of the artist’s work with an eye to a possible purchase. There was only one problem- the artiss’ signatures were completely illegible.

I had terrible handwriting in elementary school and erased holes through my papers. My parents and I spent many hours at the kitchen table practicing with adaptive grips they seemed to collect at teachers’ meetings. What finally did the trick was a calligraphy workbook I traced & copied every night for a good part of seventh grade. So my signature and handwriting are readable now, if not as beautiful as my mother’s.

My mother was a stickler for good penmanship. There was not a superfluous flowery gesture to be found, but it was graceful and textbook perfect. She was a third grade teacher and did not hesitate to discuss my college president’s silly row of loops with him, or our state representative’s scribble. She told him “I know I taught you better than that!” .

I understand why people take signature shortcuts if they are signing autographs frequently, or signing books on a book tour. I admit to rolling my eyes at artists who make their signature line particularly angst-ridden- smeared, erased, re-drawn, in some dramatic fashion. I don’t care for giant names in contrasting color that draw attention away from the work. But neither do I want to search for it. When I find it, I want to be able to read it. Most of us are not going to ever be so well known that a few coded marks are instantly recognizable (and easily forged).

For my art, I want my name to be discreet but legible. I want my viewer to know my name so they can find me again. How do you sign your art?

Here is one of the illegible signatures in question-


5 Comments Add yours

  1. I had a grade 7 teacher (Ms.Work) who told us that if we didn’t master cursive writing, we wouldn’t make it anywhere in life. Ofcourse, being 12 I totally believed her. lol. I quickly learned that few people cared. What I do find interesting and creative is when artists sign their name, not by signing their name, but by adding a creative touch that is uniquely theirs. Such an interesting thing to ponder!

  2. Susan says:

    I work mostly with photography, and most of it is to share on my Facebook page or blog, so I think about signing my art in a different way. I created a legible digital signature that I apply has an overlay. I keep it small and light but in a color that can be seen somewhere in the corner. I have been to artist fairs where I will see signatures that are not legible in any way, so I wonder how the artist is going to expect people to remember who created their work of art.

    1. Susan, I use the app Photomarkr, but am also trying to be better about renaming any image file of my art with my name.

  3. Susan Burns says:

    As someone who once got an F in grade school handwriting, I feel the pain of artists who have illegible signatures. Fortunately the kinds of art that I make include writing, but with a computer not my hands, and fiber arts, and I am not likely to hand sign those pieces, but would stitch it out by machine.

    I totally agree with you that if I find a piece of art that I like, I want to be able to read the name of the artist who made it.

  4. Cousin Brian says:

    I agree – if you don’t want to sell much art, make your signature illegible for potential patrons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s