Naming Your Artwork — Tips for the Fine Artist

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Here are some helpful tips for the fine artist on how to name their oil paintings and other works of art for exhibit or sale.

Tip #1: Keep it simple and keep it short. Don’t make your titles lengthy or complicated. Keeping it simple is always best. Make them easy to remember and understand. You’ll get better results that way.

Tip #2: Make your titles descriptive but not too personal. Instead of being ambiguous, consider naming your art something that describes exactly what is going on in the artwork. For example, you just completed a still life painting of some fruit and a candle on a bedside table, you could name it “Still Life with Fruit and Candle“.

In addition, you should not get too personal with your descriptive titles. If your painting is of your sister, it would not be best to name it “My Younger Sister Liz”. No one except a family member would be interested in buying such a painting, however, if you were to name it “Girl in the Red Dress“, then you have suddenly expanded your audience to more potential buyers.

Tip # 3: Include the name of the place when naming a painting of a particular location, especially if it is of a famous place. People want to know what or where the location is especially if it is a place they are familiar with, such as a familiar mountain range, hometown or old homestead where they grew up, etc. They will also want to know the name if it is a place they have visited before or hope to visit someday. Be sure to title the painting by location name if it is a famous landmark, national monument or park. Lastly if it is place not that familiar to many, but viewers can still curious enough to want to know the name.

Tip #4: Never name your painting “Untitled”. This can be a real deal stopper and a completely turn off to a potential customer. Viewers and potential buyers will have a hard time believing your work has value if your piece is simply called “Untitled”. Titles do matter to an art buyer!

Furthermore, if you are selling online, “Untitled” won’t get you anywhere in the search engines. Try typing the keyword “untitled” in Google or some other search engine and see what the results are. You’ll have a hard time finding your masterpiece in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). It will be buried so deep your painting will never get found.

Tip #5: For specific genres, like portraits, landscapes, historic events, etc., you might try the following:

    • Portraits — Include the individual’s name, add the date, and/or occupation.
    • Landscapes  —  Start with the location, maybe include the time of day, season of the year, and perhaps the mood as well. Example: “The Garden Tomb at Sunset
    • Historic event  —  Name it by what the event is, such as “First Man on the Moon“.

Tip #6: Start with the artwork’s focal point. This will usually be most the obvious elements of the piece. Titling your artwork after the focal point will help others to understand your artwork better, especially if your piece is an abstract.

Tip #7: Get others involved in the naming process. You can ask others for help naming your artwork or get their impressions on a title you are considering. What might sound like a clever title to you, could actually be a total flop. Getting feedback from others will help you choose just the right name for your masterpiece.

Tip #8: For multiple pieces in a series of paintings, you might want to name them sequentially. For instance if you wanted to do a series of snow paintings, they could titled “Fence Post in the Snow #1”, “Fence Post in the Snow #2”, and “Fence Post in the Snow #3” etc. You get the idea. Or you can give them all similar names like I did in my Peggy’s Cove series. I simply named these “Peggy’s Cove“, “Return to Peggy’s Cove” and “Peggy’s Cove Revisited“.

Have a question?

If you have a question about this painting, please contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

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