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Sign your work

Jan 24, 2013

Sign your work

My friend @wendymac posted this on Twitter:

I don’t want to include my signature in my drawings, but lack of attribution is out of control. Someone please invent a new watermark.

Most artists online share her frustration: you want your work to be easily copied and blogged and tumbled, you want to get credit for your work, but you don’t want to dick up your art.

Artfully embedding some kind of identification within the image itself is the only real option. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artful watermark.) Luckily, artists have been artfully embedding an identification mark in their images for quite some time: it’s called a signature.

I particularly like Saul Steinberg’s:

Etc. Even photographers can do it — look how beautiful Allen Ginsberg’s handwriting looks underneath this photo:

You might even want to go one further and figure out how to embed your web address or your Twitter handle. I talk about that more here.

(BTW, you don’t have to sign the actual work — just Photoshop it in.)

None of this will keep people from altering the image or cropping off the signatures to actively steal your images, but in my experience, most misattribution online is the result of laziness, not malice.

You’re artists, man — make it subtle, but effective!

72 notes

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  8. wendymacnaughton said: yeah, but signatures are an aesthetic and conceptual choice, should not be a default.
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