Video – Ask a Gallery Owner: The Pitfalls of Dating Your Artwork

In this video, I discuss the pros and cons of dating your artwork. I argue that for artists who are seeking to promote and sell their work, dates don‘t offer any benefits and potentially cause some problems. I suggest that artists keep track of the age of their artwork using a sound inventory system and that they omit dates from their artwork when displaying it for sale.

Do you date your artwork? Are there other factors I should consider regarding dates on artwork? Have questions you would like me to answer in future sessions? Leave a comment below!

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.

16 Comments

    1. While copyright law is above my pay grade (always consult the appropriate IP law professional when seeking legal advice), my research has shown that artwork is protected by copyright law whether the symbol and date are included or not. There are benefits to including some formal notice of copyright on your work and even more significant benefits to formally registering your copyright with the Copyright Office.

  1. Art has been a hobby of mine for quite some time and I’ve only recently tried turning it into a career. When I first started producing art I would always date my pieces — until a professional artist/instructor suggested I NOT include a date on the front of the piece. His reasons were exactly the same ones you talked about in your video. Well, I took it to heart and have not dated my artwork ever since.

  2. I do put a date on my artwork. On the back of my work are my name, title of artwork, media and date. Also an inventory number.
    I ask that a date not appear on anything else. By doing this, and I haven’t had any customer, on having it wrapped up, say “oh…I don’t want it because it isn’t current . ” If a person is genuinely in love with a piece, they don’t care.
    Usually if a patron was interested in a piece of art, and were interested in my speculation on a potential increase in value, I told them that when I buy art, personally, I have to love it. If it increases in value, then it’s a bonus.

  3. As a rule I don’t date my paintings as I don’t see the benefit of doing so, however the exception is a series of paintings I have been commissioned to paint for the collection of a renowned Sydney Museum. They have asked me to put the date on the back of the canvases and of course I have done so.

    1. Hi Camille,

      When you put a date on the back of the canvas, are you putting it on the canvas or on the stretcher bar? And if on the canvas, what’s the best way to do this? What medium do you use?

      Thank you,
      Beth

  4. My paintings are my diary and I would make an observation and comment by painting every day I am able. Obviously many disagree, but I always date my work as I wholeheartedly approve of ”seizing the date” without fear or reproach. It is indeed fear that leads us not to date that our works, and I refuse to buy into this perpetration of belief that if it is not sold it’s no good.
    What good in the scheme of a life is a diary without a date. When you hopefully get to be an old forgetful lady its always a delight to see the date and have it sit easily into the diary of your life. Fear not.

  5. There are merits for all the above comments. However, if you are an artist entering national or international shows, there are usually time requirements which prevents some individuals from resubmitting work over, riding on previous success, rather than producing new, current artwork.

  6. This question has been debated with multiple artist friends. Given the past few years, I have been out of actively connecting and trying to sell my work. I am now starting up again and upon submitting recent paintings, found the request for 2 yr or less art. My paintings have had limited viewing. Unfortunately, I did date some of what I considered my best work and had dated them. I will be painting out these dates and removing years from my website.

    I also noted, jurors are asking for Social Media accounts. If you post recent works, the posts dates the work for you.

    Thank you for the information!

  7. I never date any of my pieces as it might be misconstrued as incestious.

    For shame, those who record such dates.

    Sorry folks. I couldn’t help myself.

    🤪

  8. I have always dated my work. I sort of learned this from my studies at art school. It chronicles my progression and changes as an artist over time. Over the years I have entered quite a few juried shows and been accepted to exhibit in them by some prestigious curators and jurors. I have always adhered honestly to only submitting work created within the past three years, which seems to be an almost universal requirement for juried shows and grant applications. Sometimes this even resulted in my not being able to submit older, larger and flashier pieces for a show. Imagine my frustration when I attended openings for prestigious shows that accepted me and spoke with other accepted artists only to find out that they never date their work and the accepted work was much older than those requirements. Kind of dishonest, if you ask me!

    1. I agree with Grace Paleg, our art is our diary. And if someone is in love with your work, it should be irrelevant. I date mine but on the back.
      But I do have a question unrelated. What is your opinion on discounts? And I’m strictly referring to a person buying multiple pieces, whether in a gallery or in my case when I’m set up at a festival or fair, I’ve been approached by people wanting more then one piece. Now I will admit, at the time, it took me by surprise and honestly I was slightly annoyed. I went ahead and discounted and sold several to one person. It bothered me that it bothered me(I guess because I donate sometimes up to 50% to horse rescues) and I gradually got over it because I said to myself, I sold more pieces then had I not discounted.
      Anyways thoughts on that, do or don’t. And if you do, is there a rule of thumb?

      1. Amy:
        I solved the discount problem. I calculate my costs in materials, double or triple that for my time & talent & then I add 15% onto that. The 15% is my bartering margin. Some people will not buy unless they get some sort of discount first. When I run into that type of buyer & they ask for a discount or better offer, I tell them I have a low margin of profit, bit want them to have the piece, so I offer them 10% off. Most of the time that is sufficient and the customer is happy with a little discount and I am happy with the sale. On the odd occasion you get someone who just wants to “ low ball” you & wants a deep discount. More than the first 10% offer. I then act very reluctant, tell them if I lower it more it starting to eat into my profits. Then I give the the ultimatum offer, I will give them an additional 5% off, but they have to purchase it now. Be firm on them buying it now. Do not relent. Tell them a total of 15%, then you immediately get out your calculator & subtract 15% off your retail price, then show it to them, say that a total savings of $——. So they can see the amount. They will either agree & you made the sale or they will try to bargain with you more, if they try to keep bargaining, let them walk, at that point they are just trying to screw you out of money.
        So, adding the extra 15% guarantees you will always get the paid what you wanted, if they don’t haggle you make an additional 15%! If they haggle & are happy with the first discounted offer of 10%, you still make an additional 5%! Don’t feel guilty about adding the extra 15% for It all works out over time. The occasional extra 15% makes up for inflation, extra unexpected costs our of your pocket, accidental damages, expensive packing & mailing increases etc. just automatically add it into your prices, make sure all pricing on your website Includes it consistently. It makes facing those issues easier cause you have a built in buffer.

  9. When I’m looking at an artist’s work on their website I specifically want to see their work grouped by year because I want to see what kind of progress or change in style has happened over the years. All my work is dated on the back but not you wouldn’t know the date if seen online. I have to know when I did something from years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.