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The Art of Naming Your Art


How can I come up with a meaningful title for my artwork?

When I sit down to start a new painting, there's one thing I'm sure of—I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to call it. In fact, 99% of the time, I'm in the dark about the title. It's a blank canvas in every sense of the word. But that's where the magic begins.

Sometimes, though, that elusive title decides to show up early, taking the lead in the creative process. It's that remarkable 1% of the time when the title becomes the guiding star.

The Significance of a Title

Now, let's talk about titles. What's in a title, you ask? Well, if you ask me, there's a world of meaning behind it. We live in a world where every work of art needs a title. It's not just about giving your masterpiece an identity; it's a record-keeping necessity.

A Brief History of Art Titles

Surprisingly, titles as we know them today didn't gain prominence until the 19th century. Before that, art often existed without titles, standing solely on its visual impact. Artists seldom attached labels to their creations, leaving them untethered in the world of imagination.

But change was on the horizon. As society evolved and art appreciation deepened, the need for titles emerged. Titles began to serve as a bridge between the artist's intention and the viewer's perception. They added context, guiding the observer into the artist's creative realm.

The 19th century marked a significant turning point. It was during this period that artists and institutions began to recognize the importance of naming their works. Titles were no longer mere descriptors; they became identities, encapsulating the essence of the artwork.

As art movements like Romanticism and Symbolism gained prominence, titles took on a more symbolic and poetic nature. They were no longer just labels; they were tools to convey the deeper emotions, stories, and ideas behind the art. Titles started to function as keys, unlocking the hidden meanings within the canvas.

The Contemporary Landscape

Fast forward to today, and titles remain a vital aspect of art. They have evolved from being mere identifiers to becoming an integral part of the artistic narrative. Whether it's a play on words, a reflection of the artist's emotions, random charcters, or a clue into the intended interpretation, titles continue to be an important part of art.

In essence, the history of titles in art reflects the ever-evolving relationship between the artist and the viewer. From untitled canvases to carefully crafted titles, the journey of naming artworks has enriched our understanding of art's multifaceted nature. So, the next time you ponder a title for your creation, remember that you're participating in a tradition that has deep roots in the evolution of art itself.


Thanks for reading,

Sergio Gomez, MFA
Artist | Curator | Author | Art Biz Coach 

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