Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Marking My Territory

Blue Hill, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x12

Besides framing, the other aspect of finishing my work in preparation to sell or send off to a gallery or show is signing the painting and putting a label on the back. On the front of the painting on the bottom right hand corner, in a coordinating color, I sign my name. Actually, I use my initials. I used to sign my whole name but my last name is kind of long and I felt it was kind of distraction, not to mention that it was rather difficult to paint it legibly and I've never been able to paint it with any kind of flourish. I also include the date.

On the back of the panel, I write, with a sharpie, the title, the year and my full name. Then I print up a label on my computer and use glue tape to adhere it to the back of the panel after the piece is framed up. The label can be removed with some effort, but the written info is still on the panel as a back-up. I used to put my contact information on the label, but a couple of gallery directors mentioned that they'd rather my personal info wasn't on the work as it could be a conflict with their sales efforts. Since I normally encourage people who contact me to go the galleries who show my work anyway, I was fine with eliminating the contact info. However, if I WERE selling directly to buyers, without going through a gallery, I would totally include all my information, including a map to my studio and hot glue it to the back and maybe to the front and sides too. Anyway, if anyone does wants to contact me, (I do get the occasional fan email) I am easily found by doing a google search. So the label now just includes my name, the title of the painting and the year it was completed. Since Doug and I both have a graphic design background, we couldn't resist putting together a nifty logo for my name on the label.

I have seen a number of ways that artists mark their work (including incorporating it into the image), and after looking at the art that we own, it seems that everyone does something different. Most of the pieces that we bought from a gallery have a typed label on the back which includes the gallery's info, the artist's name, the title, year, and sometimes the price and/or size. Some artists just scribble their name and maybe the year on the back. One uses a rubber stamp with her name and info and stamps it on the stretcher. We have a few pieces with no identifying information whatsoever, and a couple of pieces simply have a somewhat illegible signature on the painting.

To me, it's important to have my full name, somewhere, on the actual painting, and as a courtesy to the galleries, I apply the typed label that includes the title of the piece. It makes it so much easier for them to identify the work when preparing for a show or for their records. I used to work with a non-profit arts organization and artists showing in the gallery would actually drop off 25 pieces with no identifying information whatsoever attached to them. This created an unbelievable amount of extra work for us, so I was mindful of that when I developed the typed labels.

Again, more stuff that I didn't learn in art school, but picked up along the way.

I'd love to hear what you do to identify your work.

PS. Another bit of information regarding frames. Some of my favorite frames on art that I own have come from Glaser Frames. They are fairly expensive, and they look terrible on my work, but I love their frames and have seriously considered developing a painting style that coordinates with their frames....


Stacey Peterson said...

Hehe... my gallery just recommended Glaser Frames to me the other day. Apparently they're only 20 min from my house!

Anyhow, just found your blog and I love reading about your work processes, etc.

I always struggle with how to mark my paintings. My signature on the painting is my first initial/last name. It's not completely legible, so I usually write the name of the painting, canvas size, and my full name on the back of the panel or stretchers. When I'm not in a hurry (and the stretchers are wide enough) I like to print this info out on a label, but sometimes I don't have time or space so I mark it with black permanent marker. Not too fancy!

Tracy Helgeson said...

Ahhh.... Now YOUR work would look perfect in Glaser frames! And no shipping charges either.

Glad you are enjoying the blog and I've bookmarked yours and look forward to reading through it.

Ed Maskevich said...

My process is pretty similar to the way you do it. I only use my initials, EM. I put it in either the lower left or right corner, depending on where I think it will look best. the color will vary, sometimes complementary, sometimes just a different shade of the area where the initials are going. On the back, also using a sharpie, I will put the title, next the copyright symbol with my name and the date of the piece, and last I will sign my name. I take one of my business cards, which has a nifty EM logo that I created, and use double stick tape to adhere it to the back. If the piece has been matted and has glass, all of this will go on the paper seal. If the painting is on a panel then there is no paper seal and all goes directly on the panel back.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills said...

This entry is so helpful to me as I was just pondering the best way to label my paintings. I put my initials BGM on a bottom corner.My name is jsut toooooo long.
On the back I sign it with the title. I think that I will start attaching a label like you do. That is a great idea. Thanks!

You have a great blog and I will be returning often-thanks for commenting in mine.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Ed, all I can say is that clearly, great artists think alike. Heh.

Hi Bridgette, So glad that you visited and that anything I said was helpful to you-normally I just chatter foolishly!

tlwest said...

If the painting is big enough I will put my signature on the fron smaller I have my intitials on the front. Usually I try to always sign and name the painting on the back and almost always paste my business card I love your blog!

Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi TL, glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for the comment. The business card is a good idea to include.