Signing Your Artwork and Protecting Your CreationsMar 08, 2023
It is a most unfortunate thing that we have to worry about other people claiming our art as their own. If you have ever had this happen, you know that it leaves you a mixture of angry, saddened and disgusted that someone would be so slimy.
Proof It's Your Art
I learned from one of my mentors, IAMPETH Certified Master Penman Harvest Crittenden, to find a hidden place within the art of the piece to add my initials. The goal is to tuck the initials into the art somewhere, not off to the side. This has three purposes:
- Your initials cannot be cropped (if it's an image) or cut (if it's the original) off of the piece without the slimeball who is steeling from you losing part of the art. Yes, I'm aware that they could be digitally removed in Photoshop very easily, but there's only so much we can do.
- We want to keep them from being a distraction. We don't want eyes to be drawn away from our beautiful artwork. The goal is not to have the initials stand out boldly but rather blend into and become part of the piece.
- It's less likely someone will notice them to bother digitally altering them out. If you know where to look for your initials but they are so small that our slimeball didn't notice them, you will be able to point them out as proof of your ownership.
On the below example, I also put the year. Inside the vine, in very small letters, is KDM 22. These initials and date are about 1/16" tall (that's half an 1/18" or about 1.5mm). They are tiny! I had to keep my hand super steady and I may have even used a magnifying glass. I used a 003 micron. Comically, it may have been the most difficult part of the whole piece!
The above image is taken with a macro lens on my iPhone. To give better perspective of just how tiny the initials are and how little they stand out, they are in the middle of the circled area on the below scan.
On the waterlily piece, I feel like I could have found a better place to hide the initials more. If I were to go back in time, I would put them on one of those big lily pads between the little vein lines. However, it is still located in a place to accomplish most of the goal.
When there is a lot of whitespace like the below flower, it can seem a little tricky to find a spot where they won't stand out like a sore thumb. I decided to put them right on the stem.
Promoting Client Contact
While my hidden initials on the front of my work give me some sense of assurance, that my work is protected to the best of my ability, I also want to make sure that people know what KDM stands for. I want my client to be able to come back to find me a year or two or eight from now. I want the recipient of the gift to be able to contact me to contract my services for gifting themselves. If my piece ends up in a pile of broken frames in a second hand store, I want the admiring treasure hunter to know who created it.
To ensure that anyone in possession of my art knows my full name and how to contact me, I have now also started stamping the back of each piece with a small stamp that includes my signature, full name, year, and website. This stamp gives me a quick, clean, and professional looking way to ensure people know how to contact me that is permanent and legible. The stamp is only about 3/8" tall and has oil-based, indelible, archival quality ink.
Similar to my logic with my initials, I always place my signature stamp on the back directly behind the artwork itself. This way, it cannot be trimmed off, be it on purpose or unintentionally during framing.
If you want to get a stamp for yourself, here's the link to have one made: INKMETHIS Custom Artist Signature Stamp
Keeping Track of Supplies Used
The most recent revelation I had was to make some notes on the back indicating the supplies I used. Most importantly, the paper. I always think I'll remember, but it becomes fuzzy later for sure. These notes are more for my own reference should they ever be needed.