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Author Topic: Signing Prints  (Read 6740 times)
camhabib
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« on: February 13, 2009, 05:41:25 PM »
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How do you finish a print set for sale or show at gallery? Do you sign it at all? If so, front or back and with what kind of pen? Do you put any information on the print it all, such as name, reference number, etc?

I've gotten into the habit of when I make a print for a client (4x6, 8x10, etc) to use something like a Dymo LableMaker to print out a sticker with a picture reference number (allows me to look it up on my system if they would like additional prints) as well as my name, website, date, and a few other things. I have heard of a few people signing larger prints (17x22 +) but have never really seen any first hand. I'm a bit hesitant on putting anything in contact with the paper, be it ink or adhesive, as I'm not sure its impact in the long run.

I'm curious as to the methods of prints intended for both gallery and direct client sale.

Any words of wisdom are welcomed.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 05:48:56 PM by camhabib » Logged

Dan Berg
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2009, 05:58:11 PM »
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Quote from: camhabib
How do you finish a print set for sale or show at gallery? Do you sign it at all? If so, front or back and with what kind of pen? Do you put any information on the print it all, such as name, reference number, etc?

I've gotten into the habit of when I make a print for a client (4x6, 8x10, etc) to use something like a Dymo LableMaker to print out a sticker with a picture reference number (allows me to look it up on my system if they would like additional prints) as well as my name, website, date, and a few other things. I have heard of a few people signing larger prints (17x22 +) but have never really seen any first hand. I'm a bit hesitant on putting anything in contact with the paper, be it ink or adhesive, as I'm not sure its impact in the long run.

I'm curious as to the methods of prints intended for both gallery and direct client sale.

Any words of wisdom are welcomed.


If you have not seen Michael Reichmans video. The prints are signed in ink on the white border covered by the mat. The mat is then signed in pencil.
Dan Berg
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2009, 07:39:15 PM »
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I always sign my prints, in pencil if the paper is a matte rag paper and in black archival ink if on glossy media.  I sign just under the print on the right side with the signature ending at approximately the right edge of the print.  the print can be matted with or without the signature showing, but personally I like to see the prints "window" matted showing the signature on the print paper.  I personally just like the way a window matte looks. Eleanor

Quote from: camhabib
How do you finish a print set for sale or show at gallery? Do you sign it at all? If so, front or back and with what kind of pen? Do you put any information on the print it all, such as name, reference number, etc?

I've gotten into the habit of when I make a print for a client (4x6, 8x10, etc) to use something like a Dymo LableMaker to print out a sticker with a picture reference number (allows me to look it up on my system if they would like additional prints) as well as my name, website, date, and a few other things. I have heard of a few people signing larger prints (17x22 +) but have never really seen any first hand. I'm a bit hesitant on putting anything in contact with the paper, be it ink or adhesive, as I'm not sure its impact in the long run.

I'm curious as to the methods of prints intended for both gallery and direct client sale.

Any words of wisdom are welcomed.
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Arlen
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2009, 07:52:43 PM »
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I follow exactly the same procedure that Eleanor described. I also put identification and contact info on the back, using either a pencil (matte paper) or an archival pen.
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dwood
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 08:06:46 PM »
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I print out a label that I've formatted for the picture detail/print info. and adhere that to the back of the mat. I fill out the label fields in pen. On the front, I sign the mat (in pencil) below the image on the right hand side.
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JohnBrew
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2009, 08:18:03 PM »
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Quote from: camhabib
How do you finish a print set for sale or show at gallery? Do you sign it at all? If so, front or back and with what kind of pen? Do you put any information on the print it all, such as name, reference number, etc?

I've gotten into the habit of when I make a print for a client (4x6, 8x10, etc) to use something like a Dymo LableMaker to print out a sticker with a picture reference number (allows me to look it up on my system if they would like additional prints) as well as my name, website, date, and a few other things. I have heard of a few people signing larger prints (17x22 +) but have never really seen any first hand. I'm a bit hesitant on putting anything in contact with the paper, be it ink or adhesive, as I'm not sure its impact in the long run.

I'm curious as to the methods of prints intended for both gallery and direct client sale.

Any words of wisdom are welcomed.

I used to sign the border of the print and make certain the matting surrounded an amount of white area equal to the area I signed.
At the moment I am not doing that anymore and am signing the mat in pencil with no white border of the print showing.
These things seem to change with the times so it seems one needs to be flexible on this.
In the end, it probably doesn't make much difference.
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fike
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2009, 08:26:03 PM »
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I go a different way.  I have an information label that I print-up on the back of the mat with the name of the print, date and location.  On the front, I sign using a wacom tablet within the image area.  I keep it fairly small and I manipulate the color so that it is subtle and blends into the image.  People need to look closely at my images to see the signature, but when they find where I have signed, it is then obvious to read.  

I know it is somewhat non-standard an approach, but I don't really care, neither have my customers.  

Signing with pencil on the white paper surrounding the print is a fairly standard museum style finishing.  So you can't really go wrong with that.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2009, 09:15:23 PM »
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I'm not only a photographer, but a collector and have operated a gallery for almost 20 years. Signing the print on the BACK of the print is the preferred method for most collectors.


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camhabib
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2009, 11:52:35 PM »
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Thanks for all the replies. It seems that this is more of a personal preference then anything. One thing I was interested in doing that no one had mentioned, was instead of selecting the print boarder on the driver screen, generate a file with the boarder built into it, and in that at the very bottom, type in all the information that would otherwise be affixed or written. This would allow for a very fine discrete print (almost like the security print on money), and then signing on the boarder, which would be covered up by the mat.

Do most people find it more visually appealing to have the signature / title / information visible to the client or hidden away? Is it more common to have the image go right up to against the mat or to have a boarder in between the mat and the image?
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Jonathan Cross
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2009, 08:48:40 AM »
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Why do you want to sign a print?  Is it just so that people know who made the image, or is to prevent copying, or some other reason.  If it is to prevent someone copying an image and claiming it as their own, then the print must be signed on the front.  After all painters sign theirs.  There are a variety of ways of doing this, ranging from signing in ink to dropping your signature in when processing it.  In Photoshop Elements or CS this is easy to do with a scanned signature saved as a brush.  The size, colour and position are easy to alter if inserted in a separate layer.

Jonathan Cross

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atassy
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2009, 09:06:14 AM »
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i block mount most prints so there is no border of blank paper around the image area. therefore i got used to placing a sticker on the back of the mount where i put my signature and the date the print was made.

i've never considered adding a signature in the image area itself. personally, i prefer the image to look the way i envisioned it when creating the photograph and this (for me at least) doesn't include my own signature as part of the artwork.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2009, 10:07:44 AM »
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Quote from: atassy
i prefer the image to look the way i envisioned it when creating the photograph and this (for me at least) doesn't include my own signature as part of the artwork.

And a great many of us will love you for it!


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camhabib
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2009, 10:19:36 AM »
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Jonathan - I'm somewhat old school and believe that a signature on a piece of otherwise machine made art really adds the proof of human touch. It's something I would like to see on a print that I just paid good money for, and as such, I thought it would be a good idea to include it on mine (kind of like the signature at the end of a printed letter - makes it feel less automated and more personal).

I think I am with atassy on this one. I feel like it's somewhat redundant to add a showing boarder as well as a matte and would much prefer to have the print end at the mattes beginning. Since my signature isn't nearly nice enough to be considered as art (few peoples are) I definitely think it shouldn't be directly on the print, but rather hidden away (after all, they're buying the print, not your signature). I think signing on the back is however a little too informal - reminds me too much of a darkroom test print, writing all the exposure info on the back.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2009, 10:20:56 AM by camhabib » Logged

Tklimek
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2009, 10:58:28 AM »
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As mentioned before, I subscribe to the method mentioned by Bill Atkinson in LLVJ #15 (same as Michael's) for the *very few* prints that I do.  That is to make my prints with a 1 inch border (or so) around all edges and then sign that border directly on the print in ink.  When I mat the print, that signature is not visible.  Following the advice of Bill and Michael, I then sign the mat in pencil.  Using this method you have a signature which is typically NOT directly viewable but is still a part of the print proper, and a signature that is visible but is part of a detachable mat.

I also include a card on the back of the foamboard with the following info (once again borrowing....ok...stealing....from LLVJ #15):


C E R T I F I C A T E  O F  A U T H E N T I C I T Y


Thank you for purchasing a fine art print from Todd Klimek Photography.  

This is an original photograph by Todd Klimek and is from an open edition of signed and matted prints.  
This print was made in 2009 using an Epson Stylus Pro 4880 printer with Epson UltraChrome K3 inks with Vivid Magenta.

These facts pertain to your print and may also be important to conservation efforts for your art.

Edition:  Open      Image Number:  ________

Actual Image Size:  ________________________________

Mat size/ Standard Frame size:  _____________________________

Type:   Color      B&W

Photo Location:  __________________________________________

Year printed:  2009

Printer:  Epson Stylus Pro 4880

Inkset:  Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta

Paper:  _______________________________________________

Mat quality:   Standard    Archival

Foamboard quality:   Standard       Archival

Thank you!


And although this is most likely non-standard and a bit amateurish......it is what it is I suppose!  Also I guess that since I actually haven't actually SOLD a single print yet (I've given several away)....my opinion is kinda immaterial.  ;-)

Cheers....

Todd in Chicago

Quote from: camhabib
Jonathan - I'm somewhat old school and believe that a signature on a piece of otherwise machine made art really adds the proof of human touch. It's something I would like to see on a print that I just paid good money for, and as such, I thought it would be a good idea to include it on mine (kind of like the signature at the end of a printed letter - makes it feel less automated and more personal).

I think I am with atassy on this one. I feel like it's somewhat redundant to add a showing boarder as well as a matte and would much prefer to have the print end at the mattes beginning. Since my signature isn't nearly nice enough to be considered as art (few peoples are) I definitely think it shouldn't be directly on the print, but rather hidden away (after all, they're buying the print, not your signature). I think signing on the back is however a little too informal - reminds me too much of a darkroom test print, writing all the exposure info on the back.
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PierreVandevenne
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2009, 02:32:23 PM »
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Quote from: Tklimek
And although this is most likely non-standard and a bit amateurish......it is what it is I suppose!  Also I guess that since I actually haven't actually SOLD a single print yet (I've given several away)....my opinion is kinda immaterial.  ;-)

While I am ahead of you in number of prints sold - not that much, you can count them on two fingers - I have decided not to sign them in the hope of homeric disputes over attribution in the next centuries ;-). But I would drop the "Vivid Magenta" bit.
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2009, 03:55:26 PM »
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I've often wondered why this is the case (signing on the back and no sig. on the front.)  Can you explain why collectors like this?   When I sign prints, as I mentioned, I always sign beneath the print at the right hand lower edge of the print so it can be matted with or without the sig. showing.  Many times (but not always) I also put the Location and date under the left side of the print also at the lower left border.  When personally viewing prints I not only enjoy seeing who the artist is but the location the print was made in.  What i do hate, absolutely hate, is the giving of "cute-sie" or "clever" titles to photographs/artwork.  Just my preferences. Eleanor


Quote from: Roscolo
I'm not only a photographer, but a collector and have operated a gallery for almost 20 years. Signing the print on the BACK of the print is the preferred method for most collectors.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2009, 07:42:35 PM »
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Quote from: eleanorbrown
I've often wondered why this is the case (signing on the back and no sig. on the front.)  Can you explain why collectors like this?

It is a visual distraction. Many people matte over the sig on the border, but that print may find it's way out of a frame and out of its matte and into a gallery's print drawers. Then when we view the print we get to see the photog's ego proudly displayed on the print, distracting from the image. I often liken a signature on the front to a dog urinating on a hydrant...marking one's territory. I think it's aesthetically more pleasing to check that ego and put that signature and any other info. on the back, where it will still clearly identify the maker and any other details you wish to include. You put a lof of work into making a great image. Don't spoil it in the end with a scribbly, squiggly line at the bottom when you're done.

Ironically, I used to write creative text at the bottom of some of my images (I do some writing). It was and still is popular, but I dont' do it so much anymore. But, that becomes part of the artwork at that point.

Bottom line: it's your work, so it's your choice what you do. I just encourage people to get over that ego thing and mark it on the back. To my eye, it looks better.

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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2009, 09:02:39 PM »
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Quote from: camhabib
How do you finish a print set for sale or show at gallery? Do you sign it at all? If so, front or back and with what kind of pen? Do you put any information on the print it all, such as name, reference number, etc?

I've gotten into the habit of when I make a print for a client (4x6, 8x10, etc) to use something like a Dymo LableMaker to print out a sticker with a picture reference number (allows me to look it up on my system if they would like additional prints) as well as my name, website, date, and a few other things. I have heard of a few people signing larger prints (17x22 +) but have never really seen any first hand. I'm a bit hesitant on putting anything in contact with the paper, be it ink or adhesive, as I'm not sure its impact in the long run.

I'm curious as to the methods of prints intended for both gallery and direct client sale.

Any words of wisdom are welcomed.

I sell prints in modest numbers, including a few institutional sales. I don't have a 'name' to speak of. So it actually surprised me to find out that folks buying my prints wanted me to sign them; one customer specifically asked me to sign her print because she was sure this would increase its value. Well, who was I to disagree?  

I do what many others do. I sign prints on cotton rag paper using a pencil, and on baryta/satin paper using a pigment ink pen, well outside the image area. This is generally hidden under the mat for framed/matted images, so it won't detract from the presentation. I include with the print a small certificate of authenticity on card stock which has the image title, the paper & inkset used, basic handling/preservation instructions and my signature with contact information.

I have tried 'signing' images with a wacom tablet, using an unobtrusive color that blends into the image so you really have to look to see it. I'm still not sure if there's a way to do it without it looking cheesy.
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2009, 09:50:38 PM »
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The back of a print is not always available.  With others prints I like to be able to see who made the print for any number of reasons and the owner of the print is not always available for me to ask.  I respectfully disagree that's it an "ego thing" and certainly not equivalent to a dog lifting his leg either.  (yes I love dogs).......Eleanor

Quote from: Roscolo
Then when we view the print we get to see the photog's ego proudly displayed on the print, distracting from the image. I often liken a signature on the front to a dog urinating on a hydrant...marking one's territory. You put a lof of work into making a great image. Don't spoil it in the end with a scribbly, squiggly line at the bottom when you're done.



Bottom line: it's your work, so it's your choice what you do. I just encourage people to get over that ego thing and mark it on the back. To my eye, it looks better.
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2009, 03:00:21 PM »
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It is funny the variety of strong opinions on this (likening it to a dog urinating to mark territory...haha).  The photograph is your piece of artwork. In determining how you sign it, there are two considerations:  what you like and what your customers like.  Depending on who you are and how desperately you want to  sell work, these considerations are weighted differently.  Fundamentally, this is a matter of personal preference for you and your customer.  There is no right or wrong, even if Michael tells us how he does it.  

Depending on your intentions, there may be standards you should consider.  If you seriously think your work is going into the Smithsonian sometime soon, you may consider pencil on the whitespace outside the image area.  Documentary and journalistic photographers are more likely to apply this standard.  On the other hand highly stylized composite digital art is likely to be completely free-form.  

Pick what works for you.  Stop depending on authority to tell you what is right.
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