How to find a title for a work of art

How to find a title for a work of art
How to find a title for a work of art

It can be very complicated to come up with a title for a work of art because it gives additional meaning to the creation. It can be difficult to convey the desired meaning with the right combination of words. There is no set rule for titling a work of art, but there are methods and exercises that can help you define the best possible title to represent your effort and creativity.


Part 1 of 4: Touring Themes and Ideas

Title Your Work of Art Step 1

Step 1. Make a list of the themes at the heart of your work

Make a list of ideas that reflect the meaning of your artwork. They can be simple concrete things, like trees or a girl, but also more abstract concepts, like friendship or childhood. Think about the meaning of the work and how you can convey it through the title.

Title Your Work of Art Step 2

Step 2. Determine the motivation behind the work

What made you decide to do it? Think about how you feel about the artwork and what you want to share with the audience. What emotions does your creation arouse in you? Determine the story you want to tell.

Title Your Work of Art Step 3

Step 3. Find the key element of the work

In a work of art, there are always parts that the audience is expected to see first or to watch most carefully. Think about this part in your work. What element do you want people to focus on when looking at it? If you use the key element of your creation to find a title for it, you can help the audience understand it better.

Vermeer's famous painting The Girl with a Pearl Earring draws attention to the little gem in the subject's ear

Title Your Work of Art Step 4

Step 4. Ask yourself what the audience needs to know

Headlines often help people understand what they are seeing. They can provide them with tools to interpret the works. What do you want the public to understand about your creation?

  • Should the title lead people to a particular interpretation? For example, a painting of a dog sitting on a beach can be interpreted in different ways. If you give it the title Abandonment, people will assume the dog was abandoned on the beach. If you call it Best Friend, the presence of the dog will elicit a different reaction in the audience.
  • Some artists prefer not to indicate the meaning of their work and purposely choose an ambiguous title.
Title Your Work of Art Step 5

Step 5. Pick a title that makes sense to you

Whatever your reason for choosing a title, it must mean something to you. After all, you are the artist and you mostly did the work for yourself. Some artists like to use titles that convey particular meanings so that they can remember certain details of the creation process, their source of inspiration, etc.

Frida Kahlo titled one of her works Pertenezco a mi dueño ("I belong to my master") during a passionate affair with the communist in exile Leon Trotsky. This painting of wild flowers in a vase symbolizes his intense love for Trotsky as well as his need to end their affair

Part 2 of 4: Find inspiration

Title Your Work of Art Step 6

Step 1. Look for inspiration in poems and quotes

Parts of your favorite poem or quote can make an interesting title suitable for your work. You can also choose a passage in a book. On the other hand, do not choose a passage that is too long, but simply a short nominal sentence. Choose lyrics that contribute to the meaning of the work, not a random quote that has no meaning.

  • You shouldn't have copyright issues unless you choose a long citation. If you only take a few words out of a poem or book, that shouldn't be a problem.
  • Pam Farrell titled one of her paintings Seasick Sailor, lyrics she heard in songs by Bob Dylan and Beck.
  • David White took titles from novels and films like The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Man Who Wanted to Be King and modified them to give titles to a series of paintings. One of them is titled The Man Who Was Tired of Perpetual War, which refers to the character in his painting.
Title Your Work of Art Step 7

Step 2. Ask other people for ideas

Talk with your family, friends or other artists and ask them to suggest some good tracks. They might have some interesting or inspiring ideas that you hadn't thought of.

  • You could also organize a “title night” with friends or other artists. Have an evening where you exhibit your work. Ask each guest to come up with ideas for titles. In some of these evenings, guests are asked to stay until offers have been made and a title has been chosen.
  • Painter Jackson Pollock often assigned simple numbers to his paintings, like Number 27, 1950, but critic Clement Greenberg gave them poetic titles, like Lavender Mist (lavender mist) or Alchemy (alchemy), in order to be able to differentiate them. from each other.
Title Your Work of Art Step 8

Step 3. Honor a source of artistic influence

If the influence of a certain work or artist particularly marks your work or your style, you could use your title as a tribute. The tribute to the artists who influenced you can be a good source of inspiration for your titles.

Andy Warhol created a series of paintings in the pop-art style in which he reinterpreted The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, of which he retained the title

Title Your Work of Art Step 9

Step 4. Look at the titles of other works of art

Observe how other artists title their creations. Read the stories explaining how certain works received their title. Look for titles of different types of artwork, ranging from classic paintings to contemporary drawings, sculptures to videos.

Part 3 of 4: choose the title words

Title Your Work of Art Step 10

Step 1. Look for synonyms

Your title may refer to a particular theme or concept, but the words don't appeal to you. Look up the keywords in a dictionary to find synonyms.

Title Your Work of Art Step 11

Step 2. Add descriptive words

You might have a few keywords referring to the central theme. Descriptive words can help give an extra dimension to the work. Look for adjectives or adverbs that can make your title more interesting.

  • Georgia O'Keeffe titled one of her paintings Calla Lily Turned Away to add an extra dimension to the floral subject matter of the painting.
  • Mary Cassatt titled a painting Lydia in a Lodge, wearing a pearl necklace, thus expanding the obvious subject matter to include other elements of the painting.
Title Your Work of Art Step 12

Step 3. Try different combinations

Change the order of the chosen words to test their rhythm. Changing the word order may slightly change the meaning of the title or make it easier to pronounce.

Say the title out loud to hear the way it sounds

Title Your Work of Art Step 13

Step 4. Choose a title that is purely descriptive

Rather than going through a complicated process of choosing a title, you could choose a very simple title that describes exactly what the work represents. It could be something like Wooden Table with Fruit Basket, Red Balloon, or Girl on a Swing.

  • Many paintings by Vincent Van Gogh have simple titles such as Les Semeurs or Les Tournesols.
  • Claude Monet's painting entitled Still life with apples and grapes is indeed a still life representing a table on which are apples and grapes.
Title Your Work of Art Step 14

Step 5. Translate a title to another language

Some keywords that illustrate the subject or theme of your work may sound better in another language. Pick a few words and try to translate them.

  • Be sure to spell the words correctly in the translation language. Be sure to check the accents or other diacritics needed in the other language. If you omit them, you could change the meaning of the word altogether.
  • Try to find someone who speaks this language. Show him your title to make sure it doesn't have any accidental connotations.

Part 4 of 4: finalize the title

Title Your Work of Art Step 15

Step 1. Try to see if there are other works with this title

The purpose of the title is to make your work stand out among others. If it has the same title as another creation (especially if it is a famous work), this can create an unwanted link between the two works, which can be a source of confusion or misinterpretation or just give the impression that you lack originality.

Search your title online to see what you find

Title Your Work of Art Step 16

Step 2. Ask other people what they think of your title

It's possible that it means something to you, but means something completely different to someone else. First impressions and other people's opinions of your title can help you know how it will be received.

Consider whether the title is ambiguous or could give rise to several interpretations

Title Your Work of Art Step 17

Step 3. Check the spelling

Unless you want to, don't reveal your work to the public with a misspelled title. One mistake can give the impression that you are lacking in seriousness or professionalism as an artist. Also check grammar, especially if your title is longer than just a nominal group.

Title Your Work of Art Step 18

Step 4. Choose a practical title

You can title a work to add meaning to it, but you can also choose a title that allows you to stand out as an artist. Never call a work Untitled, but try to find a title that makes it stand out. It is even possible that it adds value to your creation.

  • If you are doing a series of paintings, you might title them in the order of the sequence (e.g. Blue Fence 1, Blue Fence 2, etc.), but then it might be difficult to know which number corresponds to which painting. Choose different titles to help you distinguish individual works.
  • Critics and collectors will be able to refer to your works more easily if they have unique titles. If you title all of your works Untitled, it will be very difficult to know which work it is.
  • A unique title will make your work easier for people to find online.
Title Your Work of Art Step 19

Step 5. Make sure the title accompanies your work

If you are going to show your creation to the public, make sure it comes with its title. Write this on the back of the artwork.

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