About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Have some of your artists been successful with selling in their local areas paintings of their hometown scenery, historic homes, familiar landscapes, etc.?

    1. That depends a great deal on what your “local area” is. There’s two factors in play: how desirable/unusual the local scenery is, and the financial mentality of the people who would care to have images of the locality. In my case, it’s a generic land that could just as easily be in West Virginia or Nebraska as Wisconsin, and is inhabited primarily by a bunch of lower-middle and working class families that are just as happy with a Walmart poster as an original painting. They want cheap pictures of birds and cats. The only people buying my “local scenery” paintings are emmigrants who want a little memento of their old hometown. Given the size of my community, that’s a pretty small customer base. Can’t even cover my cost of materials and gallery space. If you’re talking about an upper-middle class area or someplace with notable features (or even better, near a tourist trap), you might sell a few.

    1. I take it you don’t submit anything to competitions. My county fair requires “sign and date,” and most judges won’t bother to look for a signature on the back–just DQ it if they can’t find a signature easily on the front. I’ve looked into a few state fairs, and a lot of them require full names on the front–no initials or Whistler butterflies. Some even specify where the signature has to be.

    2. Disagree. Most everything in competition requires a visible signature. I make mine as unobtrusive as possible to not disrupt the flow of the painting. I also use a 5 letter nickname

    3. Disagree. Though some of my work is signed on the backside, strictly due to aesthetic and size, virtually everything has a mark on the front. Simply put, a signature should be tastefully put and so not to compete with the work. Many buyers want a signature so they and others know it is original, even though I always give a certificate of authenticity with every painting.

      1. Curious, what size is the certificate? What kind of paper do you use? and how do you word it? I think this is a nice idea. Cynthia

    4. That’s a good way to make sure that anyone who sees your work completely disregards it. If I see a work that I like and want to look up the artist, it better have a clear signature on the front. There is no way that I am going to take a painting off the wall to try to find a hidden signature.

  2. I paint abstract which can be hung anyway a person chooses. How do I sign it? Most people use the signature to know how the artist meant it to be hung, I understand. Plus, how do I wire the back?

    1. Invent a circular signature.

      I’ve never actually tried it, but just giving it a thought right now:
      Take a length of wire long enough to lay a diamond on the back, plus a few inches. String four eye screws on the wire and twist the wire into a loop. Screw eyes at the centers of all four sides so that there’s a few inches of twist on each one. That should give you a diamond on the back that can hang from any of its points.

  3. As a gallery owner and art buyer I think that it is important for the artist, the gallery and the purchaser for the artist to sign their name and the name of the artwork, on the back of the painting.

    It is also good practise for the artist to sign the front of the work with a distinctive and consistent signature, as the buyers look out for this. It can be very discreet, or bold – just in sympathy with the artwork.

    We find that clients are disappointed if the artist has not signed the front of their works, and it is an impediment to sales 💟

    1. Ofcourse! Would you buy a Picasso if only signed on the back. Also any signatures on the back are not necessarily that of the artist.
      Always sign the front. Its what gives a painting its final coup de grace.

  4. I have seen beautiful artworks completely ruined by a too prominent, or over-large, or too contrasting signature. That is a common mistake many artists make. Personally, I have given up on buying artwork where the signature was too eye-catching.
    For myself, I sign my sculptures as unobtrusively as possible, you actually have to look for the signature to find it.

  5. When we had our frame shop, customers would bring in pieces that they painted without a signature. I always encouraged them to sign and be proud that they did this the same way I do to all my paintings. But don’t date them (which I do on the back) because once at an art show, a customer remarked to their companion that after seeing how old the painting was that it must not be very good because it had not sold yet. I know – it takes all kind.

  6. As an experienced artist told me when I first started painting – “you created it – so own it”! Meaning sign the painting. You cheapen/lessen the value of the piece in the eyes of the buyer. I always sign it in the lower right corner (with a few exceptions depending on the composition of the piece) with a small simple signature. I also sign the back along with the name of the piece.

  7. I’ve had galleries in both East and Western United States for over 40 years and have consulted with both artists and galleries for that length of time. After people buy art, they often spend more time discussing the experience they had purchasing the art than they ever do the art. They care about the artist, they care about their experience of the art purchase, and they CARE DEEPLY about seeing that signature on the front of their painting. Whether it’s a small insignia you develop like Albrecht Durer did, or something large (but in a color that interferes as little as possible – it does not have to be black) or something in between, sign on the front somewhere. Put your title and copyright notice on the back. But do not leave the signature off. Your putting your needs over those of your client when you do that, and if you wish to sell your art, that’s not a good choice. MG

  8. I am a fine art drawing media artist. Signing on the back of a piece, or notes about the work, would only be for posterity. I frame up all my for sale works and the back of the paper is unavailable unless removed from the frame. Signatures are like a water-mark. But I don’t want the signature to interfere with a collector’s enjoyment of the subject matter that I present. And, contrary to Mr. Jorejs suggestions, I place the year the piece is completed under my signature. I don’t think someone who finds my art to their liking cares when a work was created. That date is part of my chronological journey through life, and a benchmark as to my development as an artist. Someday it might matter; “It ain’t valuable until the artist dies,” and “It ain’t art until it sells.”

  9. I think it is very necessary to sign my art. I want people to know about me. I like my stylized signature and think that your work should always be signed, not dated. On the back, I sign it and code it with a code which is an art or part number, and it corresponds with my catalog of works. That way I know all about it and keep records about each one, including the date each one was done, whether it is the original or part of an edition, size, everything. I also place a Certificate of Authenticity with each on the back, which also includes copyright info and a nice story.

  10. Hey Jason – have you given any thought to making text versions of these available? I don’t often have the time for a podcast but you always have such interesting topics. Cheers – Casey

  11. I bought a small painting several years ago, that had been left at a gallery so long even the gallery didn’t know who painted it anymore. I paid, but the artist didn’t get paid. The gallery has now closed. A signature somewhere on the piece would’ve netted the artist some money, and I’d know who to look up to see the rest of their work.

    I believe in identifying your work. To me, that means signing where a viewer can see it. If not the front, then the side, or the back at least. And write your name legibly on the back, so future buyers can find out more about you! The only time I don’t sign my work on the face is if there’s no way to do so unobtrusively, like with some miniatures there’s just no room. Online, I use watermarks, despite advice not to, because it has reduced the number of incidents of infringement by about 90%. My time is worth something, and I didn’t want to be wasting it dealing with dozens of unauthorized uses every week just to keep up.

    Oh, there is one other reason I might not sign my work; I hate it! And if I hate it, I usually paint over it or even destroy it.

    1. Signatures.
      It is always up to the creator of a work to decide if he wants to sign, how he wants to sign and where he wants to sign. Contests may have rules and the Artist might not be able to enter one if he does not follow the rules but consider that contests are Craft not Art. It is important to understand that Art is not what is being judged but it is the craft itself being judged. Most major Art shows require submissions these were (Historically) attached to a card and fastened to the back of a work. There are Contests that require No visible signature just as there are contests that are strict about how a work must be signed. There have always been Artists who do sign but sign in ways that are difficult to find the signature. In Victorian times a few Artists signed portraits within the thread of clothing. Hidden signatures exist and Artists used symbols as well as pen names to conceal their identity. This is a subject where there are no rules and plenty of variation. Artists can discuss signatures and have for Centuries Signatures grew greatly with prints as most prints were signed in the plate until the 19th Century where Éditions and signatures became to norm.

  12. I sign the front of my work with my initials. And sign the back of the painting with my full name as well as repeating my initials on the back along with the title of the piece. In addition to that I staple to the frame my business card with website and email address.

  13. I paint on stretched canvases, gallery wrapped canvases, canvas boards and gesso panels.

    I sign all of my paintings on the front. I let the composition and colors determine the color and placement of my signature.

    On stretched canvases, I’ll cover the back of the frame with a thick brown craft paper, which I attach with glue. Onto that, I place a sticker with my full name, the title of the piece, the date I completed it, and another signature done the same way I painted it the front.

    On canvas boards and gesso boards, I attach a similar sticker to the one use on stretched canvas.

    On Gallery Wrapped canvases, I place my name on the wooden frame, along with the title of the piece, date I completed it, and another signature.

    I’ve seen other artists sign the back of their canvases in pencil, but I’m afraid to do that for fear of an impression showing through.

  14. On abstracts that can be hung any side up the owner wishes( I always have my own preference) I ask the new owner if they want a signature in the front and where.
    I’m beginning to change my mind about no signature on anything else. ‘Own your work’ with discretion makes a lot of sense!

  15. I try to sign my paintings in a way that it is not distracting, but I always sign the front. I put the name of the painting on the back with my signature underneath, as well.

    On another note, I wouldn’t buy a painting that wasn’t signed on the front.

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