How To Title Your Artwork

Creating a title for your artwork can be challenging! This video provides tips for artwork titles: considering how a title can help an audience understand an artwork better, or even surprised your audience.

40 min. video

Discussion with Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Deepti Menon and Mia Rozear.

Aida Muluneh
Aida Muluneh

Video Walkthrough

  • If you have a very large body of artworks, sometimes it’s simply a matter of convenience to number the titles instead of giving each artwork it’s own custom title.
  • Titles for artworks are necessary if you want to apply for grants, residencies, or work with galleries.
  • You can always use the classic Untitled if you really can’t think of anything!
  • Whether people will see the title of the artwork isn’t always guaranteed, it depends on the context where people see your artwork.
  • People often do look to plaques on museum walls for titles of artworks, whereas online they may not see it or look for it.
  • There is a long tradition of Self-Portrait, Self-Portrait as…., and Self-Portrait with… that you can follow if you want.
  • Some artwork titles are meant to be confounding to an audience.
  • Many artists scoff at writing titles, but you do have to do it to work professionally.
  • Titles can add a narrative element to the artwork, and perhaps change the way people see the piece
  • Titles can provide a clue about what the piece is, and eve guide the audience in a specific direction that aligns with the artist’s intent.
  • If you’re struggling with an artwork title, start by writing down words that come to mind when you look at your artwork.
  • Consider the positive/negative connotations that come with specific words.
  • When all else fails when giving your artwork a title, you can always go literal!
  • A lot of people enjoy artwork titles because it can change their perception and/or understanding of an artwork.
  • Some titles can be playful, for example using a play on words.
  • Consider the specifics of your title: are you including names? Locations? Are you trying to hint at or imply something?
Juan Francisco Elso
Juan Francisco Elso

Artists Mentioned

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