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Author Topic: Signing fine art prints  (Read 9794 times)
torger
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« on: December 19, 2011, 12:12:13 PM »
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I'm trying to get serious about fine art prints. I've made a few prints and framed them (passe-partout behind glass). I've provided no text or signature anywere on the finished product, not on the print, not on the backside of the frame, not under the passe-partout. So it could be the work of anyone :-).

My handwriting looks kind of ugly, and I don't really want a signature in the corner disturbing the fullness of the picture. But I guess somehow the print should be marked with my signature, and perhaps be numbered. Perhaps only putting a label on the backside of the frame is enough and leave the print untouched, or signing the print, and having a label on the backside of the frame with further information. I don't really know how people use to do it.

Any suggestions?
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MichaelWorley
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2011, 01:38:58 PM »
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Look here:

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/?tag=signing-prints

then sign up and get his full lesson for free.

Mike
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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2011, 02:40:13 PM »
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I was going to ask a similar question myself. After seeing how both Jeff and Micheal sign their prints, I was wondering how everyone else went about it. Should I sign the print? Front vs Back? Sign the mat? Pen/Pencil?
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mstevensphoto
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2011, 03:30:06 PM »
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"sharpee pens fade" - never mind that, they're loaded with acid.

I sign with an oil paint pen on canvases and a pigment pen on the rest. I elect to sign in a visible but not obnoxious manner, no signing the back for me. you'd want your original painting signed, I sign my original work - I firmly believe that it increases the value and it costs more to get a signed original than an unsigned reprint.
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torger
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 04:00:33 PM »
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My idea would be to sign with say my name, date, print number on the white border outside the print, and then cover the darn thing with the mat and frame it all behind glass, and then possibly sign the back of the frame too and/or add a printed label with some extra info (photo title / location etc) so you don't necessarily need to take it all apart.

That is use the signing just for authenticity but not have it displayed... but perhaps I would be the first doing that way?
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2011, 04:19:52 PM »
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Approach I've taken is to sign the front in the margin, customer can choose to frame with or without reveal to show signature. I also write the print title, print number, and print date on the back along with my signature again.

I use pigma pigment ink pens for gloss/semigloss print, and pencil for matte prints.
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framah
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 05:10:44 PM »
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Trust me... no matter HOW you decide to do it, you won't be the first!!

In reality, there is no one way, right or wrong, to do it. Look around at what's being done and say to yourself... "Yeah, I like how that looks!! I'm going to do it like THAT!"
You now a signature style. Congratulations!!
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Mary K
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2011, 05:13:42 PM »
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I, too, have poor handwriting.  My solution is to sign my prints with a Wacom tablet before submitting the image to the printer.  That way I can trash a poor signature and replace it with something a little better.  It is a bit time consuming, as I create a new signature for each and every print, including additional prints of the same image.

Another benefit is that I don't have to worry about archival issues, as my signature is laid down using the same pigment inks as the print. 
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2011, 05:16:08 PM »
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I use pigma pigment ink pens for gloss/semigloss print, and pencil for matte prints.

Why don't you use the pigma pens on matte prints?  That's what I started doing and seems to work fine.  I sign outside the image in the margin/border. I usually number the print there as well, and the title is printed on during the printing of the image (using an identity plate in LR).

I am looking at pencils for my matte printed portraits since those tend to be matted without leaving a border and I need to sign on the image area.  I've tried several, but haven't found one I'm happy with yet.  Any suggestions?
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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2011, 05:20:22 PM »
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Everyone so far has some fantastic ideas. I think my approach may be like this: Sign with a pigment ink pen on the border of the print and again on the back with print name, year, number etc. Then optional reveal. Perhaps additionally add some kind of label to the back of the frame as well. In some cases a plate on the front. I am not sure I will ever use pencil. The Wacom idea is good, although it may take a bit more time. I do wonder however, about open editions, limited editions, etc. (how I will indicate this)
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2011, 05:25:56 PM »
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I, too, have poor handwriting.  My solution is to sign my prints with a Wacom tablet before submitting the image to the printer.  That way I can trash a poor signature and replace it with something a little better.  It is a bit time consuming, as I create a new signature for each and every print, including additional prints of the same image.

Another benefit is that I don't have to worry about archival issues, as my signature is laid down using the same pigment inks as the print.  

This may be worth a separate discussion and I don't mean to hi-jack the thread, but I'll make my remarks here to start. If a moderator would like to move this, please feel free.

I have a Wacom signed signature that I saved and will use occasionally on non-edition prints. From what I understand reading this forum, the 'digital signature' is pretty much frowned upon by art collectors.  However, Mary's idea of creating a new signature for each print, although digital would be as unique as a hand-written signature is intriguing. It's then printed as archival as the image itself and is the artist's own writing AND is unique to every print.

How do you think the art community would view that?
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2011, 05:28:40 PM »
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I do wonder however, about open editions, limited editions, etc. (how I will indicate this)

Are you wondering which to use, open or limited, or simply how to indicate this on the print?

Since I number my prints right on the front (opposite side of my signature in the margin), I either indicate the print number of an open edition (I still number them, but they're not limited), or if it's a LE, then I indicate the print number 'of' the limit. ie. #12 / 50.

I also include a printed card (5.5 x 8.5") which has the image printed at the top, usually about 5x3", and then a description of the image and details including exposure, date taken, conditions, reason, etc., and then at the bottom include the printing information including treatment (B&W, Sepia, etc), paper used, printer, inks, etc., and finally the serial number (filename) of the image and when that particular print was made. 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 05:33:04 PM by Mike Guilbault » Logged

JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2011, 05:31:39 PM »
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Are you wondering which to use, open or limited, or simply how to indicate this on the print?

Since I number my prints right on the front (opposite side of my signature in the margin), I either indicate the print number of an open edition (I still number them, but they're not limited), or if it's a LE, then I indicate the print number 'of' the limit. ie. #12 / 50.

Thank you, I was trying to just figure out how to indicate it on a print. I think most of my prints will be open editions with a few exceptions.
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2011, 05:34:23 PM »
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If they're open editions, I don't think it really matters if they're numbered or not.  I like doing so just so I know how many have been sold.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2011, 10:24:05 PM »
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FWIW - I sign on the back in pencil and include the print date. I also sign the matt on the front. I offer my prints matted (in most cases) for protection and presentation purposes. Buyers also receive a "certificate" card as shown.

Below the printed image in the white paper margin, I use Lightroom's Identity Plate in the Page palette of the Print Module to print "An original photograph by Terry A. McDonald www.luxBorealis.com" as well as the "Photo Info" (also in the Page palette) to print the "Title" from my metadata. If the photograph is ever removed from the mat, it can still be identified.

I do not number and have issues with the artificiality of limited editions, so avoid those (you know, make it appear more valuable than it is because it's "limited" - that is until another run is done at a slightly different size which is totally acceptable from a marketing point of view, albeit deceitful - but that's another forum post altogether!).

Really, photographers should be signing their work in the same way watercolourists do - on the front within the work itself - but for some reason it is frowned upon (perhaps it makes us look like we are trying to be painters, I dunno Huh)

I also market each matted/framed work as an original photograph, trying never to use the word "print". Although we call them prints, to me each one is a finished and original photograph. I think it is important that photographers push this concept. After all, these are not lithographs run off a hundred or a thousand at a time (although they could be). Nor are they simply knock-offs of an original work - they are photographs!
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Terry McDonald
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torger
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2011, 03:13:22 AM »
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I, too, have poor handwriting.  My solution is to sign my prints with a Wacom tablet before submitting the image to the printer.  That way I can trash a poor signature and replace it with something a little better.  It is a bit time consuming, as I create a new signature for each and every print, including additional prints of the same image.

Another benefit is that I don't have to worry about archival issues, as my signature is laid down using the same pigment inks as the print. 

Isn't it a problem from authenticity standpoint? I mean you cannot sign a check by putting into the printer and have your signature printed on it, even if you made it unique. Wouldn't it be better for future authenticity checks if the signature is made with a pen of some sort?
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torger
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2011, 03:32:05 AM »
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Thanks for all the feedback on how you experienced guys do.

I don't think a signature adds to the visual part of the photograph, especially not mine since it looks like sh*te :-) so I don't want it visible, but that's only my personal taste, I can understand if one wants it visible like the tradition to sign a painting.

What I find valuable is that the print is authorized by the photographer personally (many artistic decisions is made from raw file to finished printed product), and signed to indicate that.

I don't really like the concept of limited editions, but customers seem to like it, and it seems to work as a trick to be able to charge more money. I have not yet decided if I will adopt it, I don't think I will, but numbering the prints can be good anyway to be able to identify in which order they were made. I may for example change the post-processing slightly to new prints as I evolve as printmaker.
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Mary K
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2011, 07:11:49 AM »
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Isn't it a problem from authenticity standpoint? I mean you cannot sign a check by putting into the printer and have your signature printed on it, even if you made it unique. Wouldn't it be better for future authenticity checks if the signature is made with a pen of some sort?

I don't know.  I have received checks with the signature printed or stamped on them, and the signature was not even unique.  I never had a problem cashing one. How would my signing on a print make it more authentic than signing in a print?   
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luxborealis
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2011, 07:27:55 AM »
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Signing "on" a print with a pencil/pigment pen or "in" a print digitally probably does not matter at this stage. It all depends on how famous you plan to become. Grin

Authenticity becomes paramount when a price is being determined for an artist's work (perhaps posthumously!!) A digital signature can be copied and pasted quite easily using scanning technology so a work with a digital signature can't carry the same value due to some small doubt about its authenticity. A digital signature can also be copied well after the artist leaves this world which creates further doubt ("Is it real or is it Memorex"?)

A work with the artist's real signature on it is potentially worth more because it is "more real" and after the artist passes on it is no longer possible to have a real signature. It's not unlike autographs: if you were collecting celebrity autographs, would you prefer (pay more for) a real pen and ink autograph or one that is digitally produced?

I realise this probably has little bearing on the vast majority of photographers who sell locally and do not become "collected". But if you do, then your works with real signatures will automatically be worth more, which will make all of your patrons, friends and relatives who own your work that much happier about it!
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Terry McDonald
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Have a read of my PhotoBlog and subscribe!
torger
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 08:04:44 AM »
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I don't know.  I have received checks with the signature printed or stamped on them, and the signature was not even unique.  I never had a problem cashing one. How would my signing on a print make it more authentic than signing in a print?   

I thought that it may be a pedagogical problem. That the customer sees it is a printed signature and then thinks it is a mass-produced print with signature and all, because she/he does not know that you do prepare a new digital file with a new signature for each print. I realize that there may be a difference in culture though, here in Sweden we are quite often reminded in legal papers etc that it must be a real signature made with a pen, and you need to mail the papers instead of faxing them etc. That is the "hand-written signature by pen" has a quite strong status as authenticity mark here, while a printed signature is associated with mass-distributed material.
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