Someone asked if I could explain the shortcomings of labels, as described by Del Thomas. I actually agree with her, although I also agree with the art-minded people who only want to sign their work and hope someone recognizes that name in the future. So there’s two parts of the label in quilting: the name/signature and the contact info/additional info about the quilt, like who it was made for and why (wedding, birth, etc.). It’s hard to ignore the history of quilts being given as gifts for significant events, and surely the labels should give the history of the quilt in those situations. They have much more meaning if we know it was made in 2013 for the first grandchild.
So why would we need a label for an art quilt? Some would argue we don’t, that if Picasso paints a painting, he signs it, and everyone knows who it is.
That said, at the time, did his signature mean that you knew how to find him? I mean, I would recognize, say, Hockney’s signature, and I could use The Google to locate him in general, and maybe even find a gallery (or 700) that represented him, but if I wanted a commission from him or to purchase a particular piece, then I would be out of luck, unless I emailed all 700 galleries until the one that actually had access to him (or his agent) answered back.
So the label must have some purpose besides the signature. I do actually agree that we should be signing our art quilts on the front. Do I do this? No. I always forget. I would have to do it in pen, too, since I really don’t like the signed-in-stitches version unless it’s not totally obvious and detracting from the image, which is difficult, because of the texture added by the stitching. It’s difficult in the regular arts as well, though, so you just have to find a way to make it work. Maybe the key is to stitch it on the top, before it’s quilted, and then quilt over it? I may have to experiment with this. Some people have a stamp with a chop or a signature that they use. I think you might as well sign for real in that case.
The label, though…if I buy a piece of art, say a painting or a print or a photo, I want to be able to contact the artist again in case I want to buy more, right? So the artist needs to provide that information. In this day and age, it would be nice to say that all artists are online and easy to find, but all you need to do is look at my post on Quilt Visions: Brainstorms (or any other art review) to know that many artists aren’t easy to find at all. If you buy a piece of non-fiber art, usually the artist attaches their business card to the back. So you have a signature on the front and contact info on the back…if you want to have someone ever find you again. Presumably, some significantly reclusive artists want no one to find them ever. I’m not that artist.
I don’t print my own labels; I know people who do, but I’m not that organized. I just hand-write the info.
Sorry. I did block out my home address and phone numbers. Obviously I don’t care about my label being all straight lines either.
One thing I learned late in life to plan for is the odd show that requires a bottom slat…because if you don’t put the label high enough, you will have to do what I did…
I’m trying to train myself to put bottom sleeves on my bigger (wider) quilts…they do hang better. But even if I don’t, I try to remember to put the label up higher, so in case I have to add a sleeve, I won’t be making it look this lame again. I just realized I also put the date of the quilt. I’m not sure why I put the month…it’s more for me than for anyone else. I like knowing what happened when. In my personal notes, I even put the DAY I finished it. Yes. I have issues.
While I was looking for pictures for this post (I like pictures), I found this great example of a “label” on the back of the info, but also a printed card attached to the back with CARE instructions.
I would argue that the contact info is not complete, obviously, but it does list materials and specific care instructions. In fact, Fountain Street Fine Art (which is where that picture came from) wrote a great post on shipping work related to encaustics, which aren’t quilts, but do require special care. Why aren’t we supplying care instructions on the back? Fabric does have specific instructions…I know many who provide those separately, but if you’re like me, you file that stuff Never To Be Found Again. Maybe it belongs on the back (OK, a small piece just got very crowded).
So back to quilt ART labels. I say sign your quilt. On the front. Like an artist, because you are one. I’m going to make an effort to try that this year (with the next quilt). THEN put your contact info on the back and any necessary care instructions for the piece.
What do people need in order to find you? Name, website, email, phone number. I always put my home address as well, in case my quilt gets separated from its box. I’ve heard too many horror stories from users of UPS, FedEx, and the post office. I actually fuse AND hand stitch labels on the back…heard other horror stories about labels being removed and people pretending someone else’s quilt is theirs. I put both home (yes, I still have a land line…have to where I live) and cell numbers. I also sign the back, but I don’t know that it’s necessary if you sign the front? Although if you stitch your signature, someone could remove that…but I guess if you sign with pen, they could applique over it. There’s only so much paranoia your art can handle…
So. Be an artist and sign your work. Then make sure your fans can find you. If you don’t have a website, that’s a whole ‘nother issue. If you want to sell stuff, you need to have something, whether a blog or Etsy or even Flickr (but don’t expect to sell much). I hope that helps…readers, as always, your wish is my command (um. OK. That’s not true. This topic was just easy to write about and I have a fairly strong, although evolving, opinion).