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Signing Art


Are we moomin, or are we dancer?
I feel this is more of a general discussion than an art one.

Do those of you who make Art sign your work, what are your reasons for your choice, and what do you think of signatures in Art in general?

I don't sign Art, because I view it as a vanity; I don't sell Art so it wouldn't serve a purpose other than a statement of ego.
In some ways I view the Artist as an impartial observer who sits back and watches the process of Art being made, rather than an active participant.


Well-Known Member
I kept meaning to start adding unobtrusive signatures, just because I'd sometimes be on the other end trying to figure out who did something and having no luck with reverse image searches, but literally every time I forgot and eventually I stopped even trying to remember.


Well-Known Member
I "sign" (place my URL on) my free lineart, because if you're getting something for free, I at least want what little exposure you using the lines can get me. Back when I did con badges, I'd put my info on the back and "sign" the front with my little logo somewhere largely unobtrusive. On my personal badge (my forum avatar) that was as a logo on her T-shirt, while on badges for others that mostly meant sticking it in a corner.

I mostly don't sign art because 1) I'm super derpy so I keep forgetting to do it anyway 2) I'm going to spend half a year writing the wrong fucking year on there anyway and ain't nobody got time for going in and fixing that.

I don't mind signatures in art, and some artists even have some really cool ways of incorporating the signature in the artwork itself, which I admire. It does, admittedly, often make it way easier to find the artist of an image you run across at random, which I think is a major argument in favor of signing art.

I will, out of principle, refuse to do work for anyone who demands artists don't sign their work or who has been known to edit artists' signatures out of images. If you're not going to respect those artists, I don't trust that you respect me any more.


Princess Bunny ♥
If the art is a commission, I send the client the piece full size without signature/watermark and another version in small size and with watermark for social media. Reasion is pretty basic, do you know about art theft? :D

Well most artists that complain about art theft, but they are the first who don't sign their art and upload the full size onlnie. It's like: oh hey, come and steal me, I will make it easy for you!
Also, there is a lot of people who don't mean any harm but don't credit the artist either (because they don't know what the artist's name is because... it's not signed!). So if there is a signature at least we can be find if someone type our name on google or something.

And last opinion, I do like seeing artists signature on the art. I found many art online: pinterest or twitter, and if it wasn't for the signature I would probably never find those artists.


aka Cutter Cat
I do believe in signing art to prevent thievery. It's also a way for someone to remember who you are later if they get some art from you. Some argue that it is vanity, but that's a weak argument for not wanting people to sign their art. It is a form of branding. Would you rather have a genuine piece of signed Picasso art, or something that is attributed to him that has no signature?


just happy to be here
I don't think it's vain at all! When I come across a piece of writing, I expect the author's name to be clearly displayed so I know who to credit it to, why not expect the same for a piece of art?

The idea that an artist is just an observer to their process is interesting, I think I get what you mean. Sometimes the process of making something can feel automatic as you tap into ideas you've picked up without even realizing it, use skills you've developed through muscle memory without entirely knowing how they work, or rely on some elements of chance to help the image take shape.

But I think this is only a part of the story- there's also a lot of agency involved on the artist's part which makes it impossible to separate them from the work entirely. The artist had to make the decision to spend countless hours developing their mechanical skills, and make a lot of conscious choices about what to include and what not to include in their practice. Even if they rely heavily on "instinct" for each individual piece, the journey that helped them learn to apply that instinct is still a very personal one. And that's not to mention works that are consciously planned down to the last detail, or made with a personal narrative in mind.


Lady of the lake
I don't sign my photos.
A lot of photographers are scared about people "stealing" their photos and sharing them online without getting any credit.
There are photographers who would rather plaster a huge signature in the middle of the photo rather than actually letting people see the image properly...

My name and email address are in the meta data. All my photos are public domain. I WANT people to see them afterall!
Also, if you upload something on the internet and give others access to it crying "copyright!!1" is pretty ridiculous... There are still photographers who block right-clicks on their websites so you can't download photos easily.

At least put a border around the image and put your watermark there. That way it might even look nice :/


Small but Mighty
As someone who loves to buy art, especially originals, I love seeing an artist's signature. I hardly ever buy prints unless they are signed (when I'm at cons I always ask if an artist is willing to sign a print I buy since it makes it that much more special). I do have a few signed and numbered prints as well. For me I like the feeling of having something less common than just having a normal print.
Originals are something else entirely, so that's another discussion.


Well-Known Member
I always sign my work, since not doing so is just asking someone to steal it imo. I try to make them unobtrusive so it doesn't get in the way of an image, but I'm also getting in the habit of putting them in places not so easy to edit out with microsoft paint.

Not only for theft, but as others have said, how am I supposed to find an artist again if I got something from them and there's no sort of signature or watermark? As someone whose bad at remembering a ton of names, it definitely helps.

It's like writing a book, but there's no author. Hard to appreciate it and find more from said artist if there is no way to track them.


Siamese Weeb
Honestly I don't sign my art, mostly because I have to use a background removal tool to make my images transparent and because I always forget to--the exception is my reference sheets, as those will be posted a lot. I do however disable downloads on my DA, so if someone saves the image they just get a cruddy jpeg--and I have the original files to back it up.

I'm not really worried about art theft because people who steal art usually do a horrible job making it look credible. I have an upload date on my submissions anyway. Nobody's gonna believe them.

I do encourage signing anyway though, because I know I'm probably too chill about it.


I sign my art just to keep track when I drew it. I put my name on it and the date so I can look back and say "wow my art has improved since March 2017!". I don't expect people to really steal my art, or use it in any way but I still like to at least late things. I have things that I didn't put a date on from like 2015-17 that I really wish I did. I never put the signature over the art because I think that goes too far, I just put my name and the date on one of the corners so it doesn't take up much room, but still shows if I or another person uses it as a profile picture of something. I also always put a signature/date on things so I can give to people and they can look back at the date as well!



I only sign traditional art (with initials), because all my digital art I don't really sign, instead put a very small, non-obtrusive watermark in the corner that reads the year I did the art and "THAX-39" (my general username online) just so that if someone tries to share my art without crediting, people can still know who the artist is from the signature. I have found that there are many pieces of art that get the credit lost, especially with people selling characters/designs around.

My traditional art just has "AW" though as the signature, so it's not very specific anyway. I add the small watermark with my username though if I upload it, for the same reason as the digital art. I used to initial my digital art, but I came to the conclusion that there wasn't much of a purpose for that.

If I don't even post the art online, or it's a kind of small picture or sketch, I don't bother to sign or watermark it.

Sir Thaikard

I've always insisted on getting artists to sign their art before I get it from them because I have absolutely shit memory and I get embarrassed when I can't remember who I got stuff from.


"I say we forget this business and run."
The way I've generally seen it done (that I most agree with) is the artist uploads a signed copy, but gives an unsigned copy to their commissioner / saves an unsigned copy for themselves. This way they reduce the frequency of piracy / re-uploads / character theft, but also retain access to the "base" image / can have a good idea for where a leak might have came from if it does happen. For example: Artist doesn't release unsigned copy, commissioner doesn't release unsigned copy, but the latter sent the unsigned copy to two friends.

Personally, whenever I do post content (predominantly elsewhere), I tend not to sign or watermark it since it's either already covered under other people's legalese (Have fun trying to claim those Chaos Marines are totally your own creation: I'm sure GW's Lawyers will have a field day), or I'm well aware that somebody might use it and... frankly don't care, so long as it's not being used by certain crowds (which tends to be a fairly easy thing to sidestep in the first place, at least for me).


Reet Mazer
Heeey, I made a thread like this a while back. I've actually been thinking on this topic again lately too, since I've been seeing a large increase of my art popping up in various places without credit. I'm not too prideful in my art and I'm flattered when people share it at all, but since I do commissions, I do at least want people to be able to find me if they like it. I now sign and date my art and add my @ handle that works for most websites. The only thing I'm really against is obtrusive watermarks. The whole point of my art is for people to see it, there's nothing to "steal" in my mind.

But before all that, the original reason I sign my art is Bob Ross. He will forever be a big inspiration for me. He always made it a point to sign each of his paintings, and it's something that's always stuck with me.


Pirate Fox Mom
I always sign mine.
Partially to track when I drew it (just my initials and the year)
Mostly because each picture represents a significant investment of my time and effort, so why not take a little pride in my work.


want taco
I sign everything. And not just to prevent thievery, I sign it because it's mine. I want everyone who sees it to know I did it because, well, I did. Commissions included. I wouldn't buy a shirt and be offended by the tag. So I'm not that concerned with signatures whether I'm buying or selling.

Deleted member 132067

I don't care if people sign their art. Sure, as a commissioner I'd be happy to have a file if my picture that doesn't have a sign on the picture. But generally, especially when they upload it to their pages, go for it! I always viewed it like the finishing touch to add to a nice piece of work. So if it gives the artist any satisfaction, sweet, go ahead. (And art theft I guess, but that the more boring and pragmatic reason, duh.)


The Real Wheels of Steel
I place my artists' logo in the corner, overlaid with my nick, plus the date of completion.

Recently, I started adding the logo of the application I used next to my logo, with icons indicating whether it was a scanned pencil/marker pic or fully digital. Underneath the logos is the URL of my FA presence (as it's the only place I post). In some cases I also insert identifying info into the JPG metadata, though it hasn't become a habit yet so it's application is inconsistent.

For commissions, the commissioner gets the full-size and the reduced-size "web" version for uploading to their own accounts if they choose. Both versions include the signature, but it's placed/sized as to be unobtrusive, and is semi-transparent.