Artists' Signatures: The Good, The Bad...and the Ugly

'Recording Donna Lee Lullaby' pastel by Minaz Jantz

It's important to consider what's GOOD, Bad, or plain ugly about artists' signatures... It can speak volumes about who you are in the relationship between painting and your personal style.

Where do you put the signature without ruining the artwork’s visual flow? What kind of signature such as; full name, made up artist name, first name, last name, just initials, printed, written, vertical, symbol, hidden within the artworks, HUGE, small, and many more ideas???? 

'Meow-Merized", Pastel on Sandpaper 9"x11" By Minaz Jantz

'Meow-Merized', Pastel on Sandpaper 9"x11"
By Minaz Jantz

'Rob Montgomery', Chinese brush & ink by Minaz Jantz

'Rob Montgomery', Chinese brush & ink by Minaz Jantz

Printed in capitals but the I and
 MiNAZ added the ink drawing.

In my process of stylizing a signature, I toss back and forth ideas that may or may not include my last name Jantz or at times I just want to be MiNAZ. I like to play with the letter 'i' for some paintings by adding hearts, flowers, stars, etc... as seen in my examples.

close-up of pastel Printed MiNAZ within the art and added flower to the 'i'

close-up of pastel
Printed MiNAZ within the art and added a flower to the 'i'

Where I put the signature is always free for all stewing for days where I will stalk my painting, wondering about the room, shifting my eyes suspiciously over the composition, letting the right spot speak for itself... Could end up horizontal, vertical, or somehow placed within the art??? 

The Boyz in the Band by Minaz Jantz

'The Boyz in the Band', pastel by Minaz Jantz

I started a block printing style
with just 'MiNAZ' making all CAPITOLS except for the i

I rarely sign the artwork until I have reached some sort of satisfaction, that the painting has come to completion. Artist Marion Boddy-Evans has shared some insights on 'must-do for signatures'...I don't follow all her practices but do know it's all good advice for artists. 

Here is a method I use to resolve the placement of the signature before commitment. I will write out the signature how I see it, onto some scrap paper, the size estimated, then cut it out as my template. I am able to move it around the painting, finding the best placement before making the 'DRAW'.  

Working in an art gallery years ago, art patrons were very interested in the artist signatures and liked to know the background of the artist and their relationship to the painting. From my experience, no matter the sophistication of the art patrons, art collectors, artist signatures are very important to them. Here are a couple of famous artist signature examples: Vincent Van Gogh, and Claude Monet

'Boogie Blues Night', multi-media by Minaz Jantz

'Boogie Blues Night', multi-media by Minaz Jantz

The little burgundy folded paper,
sitting in the lower right corner of the table,
is handwritten inside showing the date and names
of the guys in the band Joe Mavety & The Blood Poets.

In my Blues Music series as noted above, I made a tiny card stuck on the image of the table and inside the card, I have the date and name of the band members…no one will see it other than my signature but inside and only when it comes out of the frame will this information be exposed...It is my secret!!! 

Paintings stripped of their framing can give another level of authentication, for art collectors. The artist can at times, add a personal connection to the painting by adding notes, keepsakes, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. adding to the framing process, these will be added for prosperity's sake. These items are placed within an envelope and can either be stuck to the back of the brown dust paper for 'show & tell' or can be secretly stashed, where only another framer ripping off the dusted paper will discover these nuggets of authentication. 

You can also stash your own keepsakes, notes, photos, newspaper clippings, artists' opening cards, etc. for yourself by putting the items into an acid-free envelope with a date then stick it to the back of framed art making sure to use acid-free tape. 


Symbol signature representing birth name Donna

and keeping my X-husbands name Jantz.

 I changed my birth name from Donna to Minaz 
and so I changed the symbol signature.

One of my first paintings that were sold to an art collector had a symbol instead of a written-out signature. Probably showing me up in psychoanalysis, as being a bit sheepishly shy say this is my creation… the signature started as unreadable, tiny, and secretive. Years later, this same art collector bought a few more paintings, and he brought back this first painting wanting me to sign it…EEKKS it was like a class reunion seeing that first painting! I smiled fondly and appreciated where I came from and found my signature symbol…he didn’t know it was a signature…so I re-signed that painting also leaving the symbol, then wrote out a note saying so and the dates of changes to my signature…this painting is the only one with two of my signatures…the art collector was honored and very pleased!

A very funny video of Salvador Dali on a game show
...his DALI signature is most famous and his personality 
as an artist and a man is most infamous!

A guy came by my studio one eventful day and drove home a message to change my signature. I was clearly fearful of owning my artworks. He pointed out flamboyantly expressed, to think of Picasso, Matisse, Salvador Dali…there is no doubt they are bigger than life, not afraid to break rules and changed art forever! 

I changed my painting signature several times to also dramatically change my birth name from Donna to Minaz…this was a HUGE commitment, to not only change my first name but to accept the life of the artist MINAZ!

Since I started to sign my artworks, back in the late 1990s,

my name, style, and placement have changed often.  
Above are examples of various signatures. 

 John Castagno has collected and researched 55,000 artists' signatures both historically and for current artists. It has been noted that many famous artists such as Kandinsky, Matisse, etc. have many styles of signatures developed over the years with many changes. John Castagno, has an extensive collection to offer to the public writing a book on signatures for anyone to do their own research. 

Possibly, you might want to find out about that old painting sitting under your bed, at the back of a closet, or the painting in your hallway that's been passed down from family, or discover your Great Grandma, turns out to be a prolific known painter from the 'old' country...who knew? 

Here's signing off...Minaz Jantz

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