Signing your work is a wonky sort of thing.

Lori McNee, Silver Creek Spring, 24×36, oil

You want to “tag” your work as yours (if only so your potential collectors know who to look for when they want to collect more!). However, you don’t want to be obnoxiously self-promotional or self-aggrandizing about it. You need to be careful not to disrupt the visual harmony of the work. So you have to hit just the right tone between “subtly integrated into the painting” and “clearly visible even to the casual viewer.” Lower right corner is the standard operating procedure unless there’s a compelling design reason not to.

Signing your work shows you stand behind it; it’s like your stamp of approval for whatever leaves your studio. Also, your collectors want your work to be clearly identified as yours. Therefore, it’s probably not advisable to scribble something unreadable or to use initials or some inscrutable symbol unless you aren’t interested in selling a lot of work while you’re still around. If you want to leave decoding your signature to the PhD.s who will be poring over your work and assembling your catalogue raisonee once you’re dead, that’s going to do fine (LOL).

Spend some time looking at artist signatures and trying out a page of possible variants you might like to use for your own. You want something with a little style, I think, something readable and eye-catching enough to show you put thought and personality into every detail of your work.

Lori McNee, Downy Dream, 16×20, oil

Artist Lori McNee, whose paintings illustrate this post, some time ago published a roundup of 12 famous artist signatures on her blog. In addition to showing the interesting variety of historical artist’s signatures, each gets a short handwriting analysis speculating about what the penmanship reflects of the artist’s personality.

For the analyses of the other 10 famous artist’s signatures, check out Lori’s full blog post here.

By the way, three of Lori McNee’s best-selling videos on both making and selling art are on sale over here.

Lori McNee, Backyard Chicken, 16X20, oil


Painting from the Blue Serie: Untitled I, Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 190 cm, Aatifi, 2015 – part of the solo exhibition “Aatifi – News from Afghanistan” in the Pergamon Museum Berlin in 2015.

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