Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't date your signature on your artwork!

I got this comment on my website How to sign a painting, drawing or fine art print
If you are not expecting to ever be a great artist don't date the front of your work because normal people who buy paintings just to make their room look nice prefer things that are fresh to the market.

From the shop keepers point of view knowing the date can stop you accepting works for sale that have been shopped from gallery to gallery and not sold. People who look at art can sometimes remember something the've seen in the shop up the road.
Eight signatures by Rembrandt
between 1626 and 1633

This file is licensed under the
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What's your current practice - do you date your artwork or not?



On my website you can vote in and see the results of a differenPOLL: Do you date your artwork?
Do you include a date on your artwork?
  • Yes - on the artwork and somewhere where it's obvious 
  • Yes - on the artwork but somewhere not obvious
  • Yes - on the reverse of the drawing or painting / base of the sculpture 
  • No - I rarely date my artwork 
  • No - I never date my artwork 
Plus read more advice about Pros and Cons of Dating Artwork plus TIPS

11 comments:

Angeline-Marie Martinez said...

Hmmm.
I agree with the dating the work means collectors, galleries, etc. may not want to purchase or promote.

Many juried shows limit the age of the work in the entry notes, too.

I do date my work, but on the back. I write Month/Year, like 2/14. I do it because I forget, lol.

Victoria Culbertson said...

My question to the questioner in this post is: How do they define "normal" people? What an insult to the purchaser of the painting! God forgive them!

Haidee-Jo Summers said...

I liked looking at Rembrandt's changing signature. I sign on the front, full name. It's a long name too but I think that using just my surname or initials would feel too general. I try to use a colour that doesn't stand out too much, but my name is clearly there and readable if you look for it. I never date work but I don't exhibit anything more than two years old.

Chris Dunn said...

I always date my work, including sketches. It's very useful when archiving work, you don't have to be famous for somebody to catalogue your past artwork, future generations of the family might take an interest long after you have gone. Also it's very useful when entering competitions to make sure you are keeping within the artwork age limits, I often loose track of when I painted something.

dbest said...

I have a little watercolor from an unknown British artist c. 1896. I bought it because it "spoke" to me. I would love to know exactly when and where it was painted. I have another watercolor from a moderately-successful artist who lived in New England, again purchased because it appealed to me. People always ask me when and where it was painted (sometime between 1950 and 1970).

I sign my work with my first two initials and last name. I write (in pencil) the month and year and where I painted it on the bottom border outside the painting. I also have a code that indicates whether it was painted en plein air or from a photo I took. I do this because these are things people ask when they look at my work--if I didn't do it, I would forget eventually.

I also do this because it records, for me, my growth as an artist.

Only history will tell if I will be a noted artist. In the meantime, my practice of dating and labeling really helps me and others who like to know the details and feel personally connected to an artist whose work they own.

Jen Kirby said...

I add the year, but this is for commissioned portraits. And my signature and date are as small as I can make them.

Cindy Schnackel said...

I've also heard numerous sources advise artists not to date their work on the front. I have a rather long name, so was glad to move the date to the back, it's less to fit into the painting now. My buyers buy what they like. So far I've never had anyone express much interest in when something was painted, or care how 'new' it was. By making sure I keep good records and date things on the back, I can avoid any show rules that limit work to so many years old. Otherwise as others have said, it'd be easy to forget.

Wade said...

I would never have given it any thought, truth be told. I seldom date completed work, but I do tend to date work that I'm developing, simply because it allows me to see the progress.

Billie Crain said...

I sign my work on the front but print my name, the title of the piece and the date on the back.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

That's a good one!

David J Teter said...

I always sign my last name and date on the front and like Billie Crain print my name title date on back.
I don't worry much about the idea that galleries etc. won't be interested if the date is a couple years old since I am always creating new work any way's. If it was published online it can be found anyways. I suppose the new/old idea is a matter of marketing for them.
I create new work for shows so there too I don't need to worry about dates.

I also agree with Chris Dunn, " ... you don't have to be famous..."
It would be harder to go back and make sense of it all after the fact so date it somewhere, front or back, now.

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