Michele Webber

In the Studio with Michele Webber

Naming graphic sunflowers church painting watercolour

Naming Your Artwork

A little advice...

Whilst it is true that the title will never sell the painting, a bad title can actively discourage people from buying your work. So here is a little advice about what to name your paintings:

If you can think of a catchy title for your piece or a clever play on words then go for it; otherwise keep it simple.

Just as when selling your house you should avoid filling it with personal photos and objects the same goes for some paintings. People need to imagine owning the piece and feeling a connection to it; therefore “My niece Jenny on the Beach” is sure to guarantee no sales, whereas “Girl in blue dress by the sea” is more attractive to viewers.

Imagine a picture of a couple of Jack Russells playing. Call it “Jack Russells at play” and it will appeal to numerous dog owners, but call it “Chico and Sally playing in the kitchen” and suddenly it isn’t a picture of a popular breed of dog at play, it is your dogs in your kitchen and why would someone else want a picture of that?

Being pretentious will also ensure you don’t sell. No one wants to see a painting of a church labeled “Abstraction of thought, series 3”. No one. Pretentious titles make people feel they are too stupid to understand the artwork. Either that or they will just think the artist is a bit of an idiot.

Vague titles can be a problem too, conversely to the first point, when it comes to place names, breeds of dogs species of flowers etc, people want to know the details. Therefore “The Stour at Sudbury” is better than “Sunlit River” and “Dalmatian Puppies Playing” is better than “Puppies Playing”. When people have a particular interest such as birds or churches or butterflies, you get the details wrong at your peril. However abstract the painting you should endeavour to reflect accurately the reality and the name of the item in question. I once had a chap corner me and explain how the lino print I had made of a bird had “The wrong number of tertiary feathers on the wing.” I now understand that when people love something and are interested in it, it is really important that they feel it is correctly represented.

You may think that giving a landscape a particular name will cut down the amount of people who wish to buy it but this does not seem to be the case. I think it is because a nice place, even if you have never been there is somewhere that you could or might visit whenever you wanted. For further proof I would offer the painting of a Suffolk church (above) I sold to a lady in America and a nice Cornish harbour painting that now resides in a flat in Moscow!

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