What does your Signature mean to You?

February 23, 2008

Do you and if yes, sign your work and does this have a special significance for you? What do you think about using an artist name versus using your real name ? Or is this rather unimportant for you, something you are taught to do but you never really thought about?

When I actually started my artist career as a full time artist I wanted to make everything right. I knew that most artists sign their work and was told that a work is clearly not finished when it is not signed and so I tried to find something that would be some sort of identification. At the same time I wanted to sign with a name that was simple and easy to remember.
I thought about the pro’s and con’s of using your real name, staying in the background with your person, giving your work the emphasis not your face. At that point I decided to use a pseudonym that did not only have a very special meaning for me but was also easy to remember. It can be sometimes quite irritating if people get your name wrong because it is complicated, spell it wrong and pronounce it the wrong way. It can be embarrassing for both parties. So I thought about choosing an easy pseudonym that could be helpful. (You also can hide behind it when you are famous tagträumen - Neu!)

I am not going to bore you with the abouts why I chose a pseudonym but when I looked at my paintings lately – especially since I started the new series – I suddenly was aware of my signature which somehow did not fit any more. Did this ever happen to you?

It is not because I consider this terribly important to have the right signature but I consider it part of a painting, part of your whole work. It is the first identification. If the photo in your passport is too old you won’t be able to cross the border any more because the border patrol won’t be able to identify you. Famous paintings are checked by their signatures first and identified through that – so there seems to be a certain significance.

But what do you do if the initial purpose or original inspiration for your work has changed? Do you change the signature also?

I think my work has changed. Not only the subjects have changed but my attitude and seriousness as well. I have started to dig deeper, to look behind things much more than just being occupied by playfulness and ornamentation. So I decided to change my signature, make it simple and pure, reduce it to the essence, the initials. This is much more freedom…??

So what do you think about this?

I have found a couple of articles which touch this very subject and also give some food for thought:

Sign your Art so that People can read it – by Alan Bamberger (ArtBusiness.com)
Your Signature – What’s in it? – Interesting thread on WetCanvas
Whistler’s Signature
Signing a Painting – by Marion Boddy-Evans

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6 Responses to “What does your Signature mean to You?”

  1. Natalya Says:

    I would find it interesting to know how and why you chose you pseudonym…
    I personally always struggle on how to sign my work, in English, in Russian, just initials, initials in which language? some of my work is very small, how do I sign that or do I sign that at all? I have yet to agree with myself on the right way. I did however figure out how to do the labels, but they are in the back where hardly anyone sees them…

  2. J Alan Says:

    I’ve always been asked to sign my work.
    People appear to place a higher value to the work plus a personal association to the Artist.

    A pseudonym…….interesting.
    I guess some names just sound more interesting….

    Like Cary Grant…..John Wayne….

  3. vyala Says:

    Natalya, the inspiration for the pseudonym I chose came from my many travels to southeast Asian countries. That was also more or less the initiation for my professional art career. I wanted a name that was easier to remember and pronounce as I knew I would have problems with my real name in other than German speaking countries.

    I also was looking for some symbol, something I could identify my work with. Initially my work was deeply influenced by Asian cultures and so I chose Vyala, which is a a mythical, catlike animal that can have different faces. Symbolically it represents the struggle of life. It works also as a protective motif. That’s why I chose the name when I started.

    In the meanwhile my work has completely changed and I find that the original name does not fit into my contexts any more because it is too specific. It is the same with companies which change names when their product range changes for whatever reasons or when the image is different, other clientele etc. There could be many reasons.

    I have also realized that my work is not identified through a name but by my own personality, my own self. And as interests can change – so does the work. So it became obvious to me that the only way would be to go back to my name. For simplification I now use the intitials PV. My full name and other details go on the label which is always somewhere on my work.

    That’s the whole secret.

  4. vyala Says:

    Alan, I think for actors it is often a kind of marketing strategy or a simplification of old complicated European names and – of course – a kind of image change that lies in a name. No-one can honestly remember those long names from eastern Europe not to speak of pronouncing them etc. Same happens to Asian names. And some people just want to hide their origins – which is a sad thing but nevertheless valid even in these days – the world is still full of prejudices…

  5. Natalya Says:

    that’s an interesting story Petra, thank you for sharing… and it’s great that you have realized your art was changing and did what was needed…

  6. vyala Says:

    you are very welcome, Natalya. I just would like to add that this all does not mean that I am no longer interested in Asian cultures and the appropriate imagery – on the contrary – I am sure that will accompany me my whole future life but artwise it appeared as if all my work was solely depending on typical southeast Asian imagery and that is not the case. It was a beginning, it opened my eyes and it led to my inner self.
    But now it is time to grow up and find my own way.
    For some people it may be in their origins and roots that they discover suddenly where all their strength is coming from, for others it is their current environment that does the trick. In the end it is something different for any individual…


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