What is an appropriate art signature?

Lloyd Metcalf

signature Recently a client told me my signature on the illustration submitted was too understated. This has always been an issue for me. Other artists nearly dominate a piece of art with their signature and I tuck mine away. I am never sure how to approach this part of what we do.

How important is a signature?

Is a signature even needed in the illustration and publication world?

I feel a signature gets distracting to the piece of art and one should ask themselves, “How much of this is vanity? How much is this distracting from the message of what I drew or painted?”
Would I rather my recognition be the art that I used to illustrate his thing or situation or do I want to make sure that everyone sees my initials in print? My answer is the art. Perhaps some artists aren’t accustom to seeing their name in print. Early in my career as an illustrator I put my initials in some embarrassing places at embarrassing sizes.

There is no standard set on this topic and my answer is to push the image forward allowing my little LM to sneak in there somewhere so that I can tell if something has been altered or folks can identify a piece I worked on. Usually I opt for the lower right corner if possible. When the client requests that you increase the signature presence in the work though, it may be time to reassess.

Then there comes the question of a stylized signature for art works vs a long-hand signature on something. I started the LM when it was time for something more compact, it is also easier to produce consistently in paint. Does such a potentially reproducible  logo even count as a signature? In the art world – maybe. For safety sake, it is always good to sign the reverse of non-digital works with a long signature. Digital works are more difficult in that, there isn’t a reverse side to sign. Producers and art directors in the field will usually lend you credit in the printed title or credit so you will still get the ego boost of seeing your name in print.

There is no easy answer for where or how big or how contrasting to make an artists signature. It may be as subjective as the art itself. I will continue to question myself every time it comes up, and I may never get comfortable proclaiming my corner of an artwork.




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