How to Title Your Work

Written as advice to visual artists (painters, sculptors, etc.), How to title your art is half rallying cry half tutorial on why and how you should give your art a title.

As Claudia Dawson said in Recommendo, the guidance is useful for anyone who writes titles or headlines. Some points that stuck out for me:

  • Stand up for your art. Tell it like it is. Strong titles reflect what inspires you to make it, what personal beliefs it represents, what messages it is meant to communicate, and why we should look at and think about it.
  • Good titles help people to recognize and appreciate aspects of your art that may not be immediately obvious. […] Titles help viewers see what you want them to see.
  • [Cryptic] titles that do not obviously or immediately relate to the compositions or subject matters of your art can sometimes work in your favor. But they have to be well-thought-out. Good ones can intrigue viewers to the point where they spend time trying to figure out their meanings, like captivating mysteries or riddles.
  • Use titles that seduce viewers into taking longer looks, and maybe even ask questions. Unexpected or uncommon titles engage viewers in ways that ordinary or common titles don’t.
  • Unusual words or word combinations tend to attract more interest and attention than ordinary ones. At the very least, they slow people down. […] Be careful though. You want to use these kinds of words only when they relate directly to something about your art, and not use them gratuitously or to try and game the system.