I recently gave my friend a piece of art that I had created and she noted that I hadn’t signed it. We spoke about the fact that I am often reluctant to actually sign my work (the watermark on many of the images I post on this blog are there because Picasa helpfully has a little function to automatically add the copyright into the corner.
So with a certain Machiavellian pleasure, I present “This is not a signature”. I created the symbol some 30 years ago (10 years before Prince and his ‘love symbol’), at the time to combine my initials with my then girlfriend. However, I discovered that there are very few letters that can’t fit into the symbol, and once life had moved on a few solar cycles this was “my” symbol – combining my own initials (D, C, G… all in the lower portion) with F, R, O and G. I have tried a few variations – changing the upper part to look more like a cat for example – but generally I come back to this.
I was thinking about the whole “actual” signature thing today anyway. I put my name on all my reports that I write and when I was learning technical drawing it was a standard to put your name on your work (probably for marking). But some pieces of art are only considered “art” because of the signature on the bottom – if that wasn’t there an art critic would suggest that it was drawn by a child… but with the signature “we can see that this famous artist is allowing his childlike spirit to roam free”. Would the Mona Lisa be still as revered if the signature had said “Joe Blow”? Some art is quite technically clever – a Rothko for example isn’t just a bit of orange on a bit of yellow; there are layers of colour – so should be worthy of the title “art” irrespective of the name. And some works, such as those by Dale Chihuly or Matisse were produced in collaboration with a host of people whose names do not appear on the final result.
For myself, I hope to inspire others. If I ever get round to actually selling this stuff, I may add my little symbol as a signature. But for now, Picassa can add the watermark to most of my images* and I’ll just keep sharing.
*I find that if I’ve edited a picture in GIMP that Picasa doesn’t like to resize it, so they don’t get the magic copyright.