View Full Version : Your Signature - What's in it?

10-30-2002, 12:00 PM
It may be frivolous in comparison to an overall work of art, but an element that each artist must include in every creation...Your Signature! In college I had always signed my art work with my first/middle/last initial. Odd yes, but so am I. ;) Recently returning to art (after two years), I am wondering if a signature may be better than using initials. Have you ever thought about your signature? There are a lot of elements just in an artistís signature. For example...

Did you create/design your signature?
Did you just sign the painting in your normal/natural script?
Do you Print your name?
Do you include your full name or use initials?
Does your signature differ in each painting?
Do you include signs or symbols in your signature?
Has your signature changed over time?
Is your signature always the same color?
Do you always place your signature in the same spot?
Do you disguise your signature in the painting?
Do you feel your signature is important?

These are but a few questions on the elements of your signature. I personally havenít seen any discussion on this topic and find it quite interesting. How do you sign your name?

10-30-2002, 12:05 PM
Hi liveandlearn! Good question. I have been signing my paintings on the back cause I don't want to wreck the front with my signature --always comes out yucky looking. Also sometimes people like to hang an abstract the other way and if I put my signature on the front, they wouldn't be able to do that. But I'm also thinking about taking on my Great Grandmother's maiden name for my own. It's "Lee" --nice and short and then I could sign Pat Lee. Thinking about it...


10-30-2002, 12:13 PM
Personally, I find the signature to be one of the most important parts of the painting. A poorly done signature can ruin the whole piece of artwork for me. The people that choose to write their name in huge letters, in bright orange paint, is so offensive to me that I dont even care to look at the painting anymore. The signature I have always found to be the true sign of an amatuer if done wrong. It is very very important to sign your work, but at the same time, you signature should not be the main focal point of the painting. I had always been taught you should sign your name the way you would sign a check. Usually just your last name, unless it is a common name and you need to add your first. Although I believe you can sign a painting with anything as long as it is tastefully done. It should always be done in the bottom right corner, slightly above the edge so it's not hidden by a frame. Normally in a shade lighter or darker than the color found there. The signature should be large enough to be able to be seen, but the viewer should have to look for it, it shouldnt pop out of the picture and scream at them. The only exception is when the name is part of the artwork itself, such as in a self portrait, or a contemporary piece where the name is most important.
Now this is just the system I have developed and follow. Sometimes I will wipe out my name 10 or 15 times before I get a signature I am satisfied with.
I'm not trying to impose strict guidelines on anyone, it is really just up to the artist, but please everyone in the art world, no more mile high neon pink signatures on pretty meadow landscape scenes please! haha

10-30-2002, 12:16 PM
I habitually sign in the lower right corner, if it's possible. If not, I choose a spot with no detail.

I write "Mymy", which is a diminutive for my name. And I write the month and the year, to keep track of my progress. It looks like that :

10-30-2002, 12:18 PM
Pink, what kind of brush are you using to sign your paintings? I think I've always had the wrong brush. Many people have told me I have beautiful handwriting. When I sign my paintings, I think its ugly.


10-30-2002, 12:27 PM
depends. always something very small and rounded. for watercolor and acrylics ushally a small watercolor brush. for oil, just a small round one. they make specific name signing brushes i know, but they are expensive, and for the amount you actually get to use one, i never saw the point in buying one. right now, i basically use the smallest thing i can find. i'm really low on brushes at the moment.
but dont take me all to seriously, i'm pretty anal when it comes to signatures, even my own.

10-30-2002, 12:36 PM
Thanks Pink. I may have to investigate those signature brushes anyways. I like how you do yours --like the Tinyhead right? Looks good.

10-30-2002, 12:56 PM
oh, thats not how i would sign my name on a painting. i just did that for my tinyhead. for artwork i just use script, most of the time i do just my last name. and my own little quirky thing is that i never capitalize the first letter in my name. one of my favorite artists, and good friend, does his that way, after seeing one of his favorite artists, normon rockwell, sign it that way. so i just do it out of respect for my friend. i like it that way anyway. i think everyone can sign however they like as long as it is tastefully done. but my big thing is usually just to match the color of the signature to the color in the corner i'm signing, difference being only a shade.

10-30-2002, 02:09 PM
After years of messy signatures , I finally like signing my name. I do it with a WN #3 round. It snaps back to a point as soon as it is cleaned. Plus, I always sign in acrylic over the oils. No lectures, please. I love the way it looks.

It signs just like a sharp pen, amd I really like the thin lines in script in my name now. Plus, I have a full color line of acrylics so I can blend.

"Yeah, right, like you blend"- Marisa Tomei


10-30-2002, 03:15 PM
I paint in watercolor and sign in watercolor. I once had an art teacher tell me I was supposed to sign in the lower right with the color in the upper left, but never really followed that advise.

I usually sign MMallory my first initial and last name. MM for small sketches and the like. I usually date my signature. But a painter friend of mine told me she quit dating her signature when a potential collector was getting serious about a painting of hers painted in '98 and looked up and said, "Why hasn't it sold?" :(

While I don't go overboard with this, I will try to embed the signature into the painting and make it part of the subject. For instance I painted a boat tied up to a dock and negatively painted my name in an attempt to make my signature look "carved" into the dock.

I've attached a painting I did called "Night Raid". I put my signature in the upper left corner so that it looks like a signature or label of some refrigerator art. I enjoy trying to find a way to put my signature "into" the painting.

I seem to remember that a couple of the old masters did this sometimes. It seems at least one was Dutch, but I can't quite recall the painter or the paintings in question.


10-30-2002, 10:32 PM
i sign only my last name on my plein air works....printed, all in lower case.

on historical replicated works, i sign both first and last names, printed, with upper and lower case. i also use a period before and after the name (almost as one would place a hyphen before and after the name.)

on plein air pieces i do include a single sheet with information about the particular scene - date painted, location, conditions, and any additional information to help the new owner know the painting's significance to me during my encounter with the subject.

i sign in an appropriate lower location, though i would not be opposed to an upper location signature if that seemed appropriate. it hasn't yet.

i use an oil signature for oil works, acrylic paint for water-based works.

i always attach a business card to the back of the painting support.


10-31-2002, 07:30 AM
Mike, You devil, you! I have to go for my weight watchers weigh-in tomorrow. Just one more day. Have to be good, have to be good! :) :angel:

I love that simple, everyday kind of subject matter with beautiful colors. Clever, with your signature on the door.

Ted, On the back of every commissioned painting, I paste a large white envelope, and inside I put two news article on me, and my resume. I glue my biz card to the outside of the envelope and throw a couple extra ones inside the envelope for their friends.

I saw this done on the back of a painting my sis in law bought and it looked so classy, I adopted it.


Ron van den Boogaard
10-31-2002, 08:36 AM
My signature on paintings, drawings and the lot was specifically designed for that purpose, I only sign with my last name and the year. In paint on paintings, in pencil or pastel on pencil drawings or pastels. I do not have a specific location, but always at the bottom, the painting determines that as it also determines the colour as it should fit the colour of the piece as well.

that's all there is to it

Ron vdB

10-31-2002, 09:49 AM
I have a very long last name......thought it was unusual but many more in the world.....so first name goes w/it and the year. Choice of corner is determined by 'where my long sig will be subtle'. though about some sort of logo design signature.......but too late as already a large body of work. so sign on.:cool:

10-31-2002, 10:54 AM
I have seen so many different opinions on signatures.... still confused... but have settled on bottom of painting depending on what's where... try for right hand side most of the time and usually small not too obtrusive in color or size.....

An artist friend told me once that it is a sure sign of an amateur to sign along the stem of a flower or piece of the painting but I don't necessarily agree... I think that can look cool too.... still confused but doing it anyway.... I consider my signature the stamp that says "this work is done" and try never to mess with it after the sig. First and last name (Brown is very common!!) and the year sometimes.... was told the date "dated" duh the work and galleries sometimes don't like it in case it doesn't sell right away... who knows???


Colleen :D:D

Wayne Gaudon
10-31-2002, 01:35 PM
Here comes Wayne
.. I sign mine with the back end of a #2 that I sharpened further with blade .. I scratch my signature into the paint .. it's a signature so no one would ever be able to know who painted the piece by looking at the signature .. used to use a nail punch but I've misplaced it .. I try to put it where it is least visible. If you look you cannot help but see it but you will never see it when viewing a painting from a normal distance.
I also sign the painting on the back of the board if I am dealing with canvas glued on masonite or on the back canvas if dealing with stretched canvas. I figure if anyone wants to find the artist of a piece, they will.
As I have paintings in the different areas of the USA, Germany, and Canada, I am thinking of having an address label printed up and sticking it to the back of each painting.

Rose Queen
10-31-2002, 02:05 PM
Not a frivolous question at all; in fact, it regularly gets hashed over here and everytime it does, we all learn something. Here are some older posts that might help:












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Beach Baby
11-10-2002, 10:12 PM
One of my favorite artist , Minerva Tiechert once stated that one of her goals in life was to get to the point mentally and emotionally that she didn't feel compelled to sign her name a painting.

She felt that since her gift was from God , it was pretenious to sign her name accross something that she felt she was merely a spectator at. She simple held the brush. All the work she created in the latter part of her life bore no signature.

I actually like this idea . I spent a lot of time writing out different examples of my name. When my husband caught me practicing, I felt a little embarrassed. I thought if some one only loves my art because it was done by me, that is wrong. They should love the piece or not, regardless of who painted.

Would we love the Mona Lisa or Starry Night if we knew some chimmney sweep painted them instead of master???

Food for thought

11-12-2002, 12:12 AM
I think of signature as utilititarian step in the process. I sign my name in the most subtle hue - or value - that can still be seen, albeit barely. Usually the lower left - block letters, all caps (but's thats only because thats the way I write).

To me, the painting is nothing, compared to the beauty that existed in life, so I think of myself as nearly irrelevant.

Beach Baby
11-12-2002, 12:17 AM
I still personally like the idea of no signature but I tooka class and the instructor signed his name early in the painting during one og the first washes. He simple scored his signature with the tail of his brush into the wet paint and ended up with a perfect shade to match the background. I think the instructor was Zolton Szabo

Frank Webb usually signs his workin cad red.

11-14-2002, 11:22 AM
Lets see, it took me ages to find the right one and to find me. The Hateley was an ex married name. I became uncomfortable using it.
I was:
3.Terri. H
5. TeAnne
The last one as most of you know became my legal name by deed poll.

11-25-2002, 09:55 AM
This is an interesting thread, but I think I'll keep my sig as is (I've thought about changing it) I sign with a K3 usually in the lower right corner (depends on what is there) in a darker/lighter shade of the same color if possible. I don't think the sig should stand out, if someone thinks the painting is that good, they will look for it. However, I always sign the back with my regular signature K.T.Lynne, the title of the painting (this can be very important!) the original size, medium, and date. That way if the work changes hands someday the new owner will have all the information they need right there.

11-25-2002, 06:11 PM
Originally posted by Wingnut
, I always sign the back with my regular signature K.T.Lynne, the title of the painting (this can be very important!) the original size, medium, and date. That way if the work changes hands someday the new owner will have all the information they need right there.

Thats a very good point. :D

12-03-2002, 11:58 AM
I have often found that a carefully worded question is not the important part of a post/thread; on the contrary, it is the responses that grant the question as seemingly important.

Such wonderful feedback on the signatures, more than I had expected...and much to ponder upon.

Thank you all for taking the time to respond...and thanks Rose for the added links.
Much Appreciated! :D

12-03-2002, 08:15 PM
I sign all of mine Leaflin with whatever medium I am working in.
Where it looks balanced but not overly obvious.

12-03-2002, 09:53 PM
I sign mine bottom right and for me its the last thing doing
an act of completion, the end

12-04-2002, 09:14 PM
I try to sign most of mine with name and year. Sometimes, though, it really would stand out, so then I might sign on the back. I have a hard time with a consistent looking signature, though! Just like my handwriting looks different day to day, sometimes neat, sometimes sloppppy.

C. Swan
12-04-2002, 09:57 PM
Hi All,

This is actually my first posting...I just joined yesterday.

Being a very detail-oriented oil painter (read: anal), here's my method of signing....

Using a gel-type pen (opaque) I sign my name, first initial and last name (I'm anal, but lazy) just as small as I can in my own normal handwriting in the lower right corner.

When dry, I select a color from the upper left corner that is of a contrasting value compared to the color/value behind the signature (i.e., if it is a very dark background...say a 1 or 2, I use a color from the upper left that is around a 5). Using the smallest liner brush that I have, I go over what I have written with the gel-pen.

This way, the signature LOOKS natural, but neat. Whenever I've tried to skip the gel-pen step and just sign with the brush, it looks kinda 'choppy', not freeflowing like a handwritten signature.

No date...I agree with some of you...patrons & galleries & competitions seem to frown on older paintings, even if they are just a good (or better) as the newer ones.

Ahhh, now that I have my first posting, I can do the 'Tinyhead' thingy!

Nice talkin' at ya....You'll probably hear more from me. I REALLY love this website :D !!!!!!!

-Carolyn Swan

12-05-2002, 08:01 AM
When I started diggin' into drawing and the like again, back in 2000, I came up with this signature for the first time.


It's composed of the Initials of my name David Auner and the year, short 2k2 for 2002, although it started as DA2K. Most poeple don't read it correctly, but heck, who cares anyway. It's hard to mistake it for some other artists sig, I think that should be the main concern, and it's kinda hard to fake :D jst kidding....

Just my 2 cents, Dave

12-07-2002, 12:00 PM
I always sign my paintings in the lower right hand corner, and mix up some paint that is darker than the painted area. I thin the paint to an ink like consistency and use a very fine pointed brush to paint my first name Gina. I figure that in 200 years when the public have discovered what a brilliant artist I am (LOL)...they will know it's me.:)

C. Swan
12-08-2002, 11:51 AM

I'll bet you ARE a brilliant artist! Can I see some of your art? Where do I go?

Are you a photographer, too (i.e., your 'tinyhead')?


12-08-2002, 04:01 PM
Hi C.
The only person that thinks I am a brilliant artist is my Mom...and she will take any painting that catches her eye. LOL. If you want to see my paintings you will have to travel to Spain next Sunday, cos I have a one day exhibition (sharing costs with two painting pals) or you could look back through the archieves in the critique forum...and they did not think I was any good either!! LOL :crying:

cobalt fingers
12-08-2002, 10:53 PM
Hi-there are a couple of similar threads in oil painting on this subject right now.

12-09-2002, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by ginatec
Hi C.
The only person that thinks I am a brilliant artist is my Mom...and she will take any painting that catches her eye. LOL. If you want to see my paintings you will have to travel to Spain next Sunday, cos I have a one day exhibition (sharing costs with two painting pals) or you could look back through the archieves in the critique forum...and they did not think I was any good either!! LOL :crying:

That was a joke...what I should have said is that I have been given a great deal of help and information from people who have given me a critique. I have learned a lot from them.