Debate: Should You Include a Date on Your Artwork?

Debate: Should You Include a Date on Your Artwork?

Lots of of you who have been subsequent me will know that I discourage artists from like dates on their artwork. Lately, I obtained the subsequent e-mail from the curator of a museum:

Dear Jason,
As a Museum Director, I vehemently disagree with not placing the day produced on parts of get the job done in a portfolio. Why do you propose that? It seems that the artist is hiding one thing.



I responded:

Dear D,

Thank you for the e-mail and the question. I occur at the issue from a marketing and gross sales standpoint, and from my viewpoint on the front lines of helping artists market their perform, I have only found the courting of work as a detrimental.

In a nutshell, below is the challenge: It is normally the situation that a individual work of art will enter the artwork current market and not promote instantly. Often the work is proven in the completely wrong location, from time to time the industry alone is sluggish (as in excess of the very last various many years) and at times it’s just bad luck. There are a good deal of variables that have to align in buy to promote a piece of artwork. For the reason that of the complexity of the sector, an artist will commonly have to transfer a function of artwork as a result of quite a few galleries prior to it finds a residence. This process can at times get months, or even yrs. It’s not that there is nearly anything completely wrong with the artwork, it only requires time to align the artwork with the suitable person who will be ready and able to make the obtain.

If the perform of artwork features the generation date we danger prejudicing the likely customer versus the function unnecessarily. The probable consumer may well come across the artwork to be appealing in each and every way artistically and aesthetically, and I would argue that the age of the artwork shouldn’t make any difference to this purchaser. Regrettably, I have found age can have an effects on some (not all, but some) potential buyers.

“I like this piece,” they will say, “but it is dated 2012. It’s been on the market place for around 5 yrs and no a person has acquired it? What is mistaken with it?” This seed of doubt can be plenty of to dissuade some buyers. I am not talking hypothetically – I have viewed this happen on numerous situations about my 19 years in the artwork organization, and my expertise has direct me to discourage artists from including the day on their do the job or in their portfolios for this rationale. I basically don’t see a persuasive motive on the other facet of the argument that outweighs this likely threat for an artist who is trying to sell their function in the current art sector.

I would argue that it is not that we’re trying to hide a little something from opportunity buyers, but instead that we merely do not emphasize the age of the do the job by such as the date. If there is no date on the get the job done, in the vast vast majority of cases, the difficulty in no way arises.

I am an impassioned advocate of artists being arranged and cautiously cataloging all of their function. I stimulate artists to make certain that every do the job of artwork includes an inventory selection which could then be cross-referenced to the artist’s stock if and when the query of creation day occurs in the foreseeable future.

I recognize that from a curatorial standpoint it would be valuable to have straightforward entry to generation day, but the extensive majority of artists operating right now are a lot more concerned with producing a dwelling and providing their operate. From that viewpoint, I would argue that, on balance, it is superior to stay away from overtly courting the perform.

I would welcome your perspective and any counter arguments. My position surely isn’t intractable, I merely want to assistance artists make informed selections as they technique the sector.


What do you feel? Do you include a day on your get the job done? Why or why not? Share your views in the feedback below.

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