Assuming that most of us have read Romeo and Juliet… we know the ending of this classic tragedy. So while a rose would certainly have the same scent whether it is called a rose or a Venus flytrap, names certainly do matter. Keep reading for our take on the importance of a name, and for some inspiration to name your own artwork!
Not merely just a label, a name possesses the power to convey information, shape perception, and evoke emotions. This holds true for both individuals and their creations. A name is a vessel of meaning that allows communication between the named and those engaged with it. It can be a “complete” word, if you will, containing all of the information within a string or a few strings of letters that otherwise would require a string of a few sentences (or a multi-volume book collection). Think of a name— a person, a place, a treasured object— and then notice what comes to mind. Interestingly, we bet your answer is not exactly the same as anybody else’s! Names are personal, and they not only serve as a conduit for relaying the objective, but they also become infused with the very experiences shared by the named and the engagers. The communication isn’t one way; rather, the name communicates a message, and those engaged with it interpret and respond to it in a unique way. While the spelling might always stay the same, a name, in the truest sense of the word, certainly never does. And this all is certainly true for artwork names, too.
So what’s in a name as it applies specifically to artworks?
A name to express shareable information
Ah, the practical side of art. Need we really say more? How many “Untitled” tags does it take to make a gallerist, artist, or viewer overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated? The world may never know.
A name to guide viewers
Artists have two opportunities to influence others without needing to utter a word— one through their actual artwork itself, and the other through the title of said artwork. Indeed, take the large painting of a quiet-looking woman walking alone head-on towards the viewer carrying a baby and a field tool. Had it been named “Another Day’s Pay,” the created image might have lent a rather grim interpretation: a single mother walking home, yet again, to feed and shelter herself and her growing infant. Is she living day to day? Does her day’s pay even leave enough to cover these basic needs? What will become of her, and is there hope for the little boy or girl? While the viewer may never know the answers to these questions, the title reasonably convinces the viewer that these are the right questions to ask. But the piece, painted by artist and The Blooming Artist proprietor Cynthia Romano, is not titled this. Rather, it is called “Prosperity.” Now this title certainly convinces the viewer to ask much different questions and to see the woman and her baby through a much different lens, does it not?
A name to cause feeling
People are emotional beings. We most relate to others through experiences involving strong emotions. A name has the power to take the viewer there… wherever that may be. This may make the artist very vulnerable— a title that reflects a personal perspective towards the subject— or may be persuasive. Art leading or contributing to a cultural change certainly isn’t a novel inkling, after all. Artists, through their artwork and the titles of such, have the opportunity to connect with viewers through their emotions, and/or influence the viewers’ emotional response to a subject. The right name can make a significant impact— more than the artist may ever know.
A name to create a sense of community
Art builds. It has a twofold purpose— two sides of the same coin. Any artist will admit that the artistic process in itself is one of these; the other is sharing their creations with others. One may be distinct from the other, but they are truly inseparable. In addition to being emotional beings, we are also social beings. At our healthiest (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), we enjoy sharing with others, helping as we are able. These are innate leanings that have, quite literally, allowed us to get on this far. While sharing our art probably won’t make a difference between life or death, it certainly does have the power to bring us closer. This said, a name just may be what initiates this— serving as a much needed icebreaker, leading to a discussion-producing thought-provoking idea, providing a peacemaking common ground, etc. Again— art builds.
How to name your artwork
So— how do you name your artwork?
That, artists, is really a question only you should answer. Your artwork title is part of the work itself; like your artwork, the name is a reflection of you. The only (common sense and simply decent) rule— mind your audience. Ultimately, you are the creator and the work is your creation… name it according to your purpose in its creation.
Let us know what you think!