Friday, August 18, 2017

Choosing Titles - Off the Wall Friday

Discarded Roses, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (great title!)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." 
William Shakespeare  

Really???  Does Will Shakespeare really know what he's talking about when he suggests that a name is just a label to distinguish one thing from another?  Well, maybe.  I mean the title of a piece of art doesn't make it any more worthy or successful.  In fact, some artists feel the title is so insignificant that they use "Untitled I", "Untitled II" etc etc.

But for me. . . . OPINION WARNING. . .a name is significant.  It holds great power.  Both in my Christian upbringing and in forklore, speaking the true name of someone holds mystical powers.  At the very least, not giving much thought to a title of an art piece is wasting a chance of one last expression of the piece.  

During my recent class with Cynthia Corbin, we had a discussion on how we name our pieces.  For a long while, I would pray on it and name my pieces after scriptures.  As I started working abstractly, I started choosing titles that spoke about the piece.  I've even named my titles after the nicknames I've adapted in this blog when it was a work in progress.   Really, I can't remember one time when I the name of the piece wasn't blatantly apparent by the time I finished it.

Cynthia suggested that we don't chose names that give too concrete  a label to the piece.  That way the artist can let the viewer choose her own mental name. I understand exactly what she means!  How many times have you looked at a piece and it strikes you one way but when you read the name you see it in a whole different light? Still, knowing the artist's title hasn't dampened my personal viewing experience of the piece though.  In fact, sometimes, its a "Ah-haaaaa" moment.

So are you having trouble naming your pieces?  Here are some suggestions on where to start!
  1.  What is the piece?  Give it the simple name that it actually is.
  2.  Use Adjectives that describe your piece or the feelings you were trying to evoke
  3. Use the most important thing you strikes you about the piece
  4. Ask a friend you trust
Other hints?
  1. Avoid Cliches
  2. Don't be pretentious and use words people know the meanings of
  3. Shorter is always better
Still Stuck??  There is always an online naming site!!
This all came up because I'm going to spend the next month finishing up some of these pieces I have in a stack in my studio.  Included in finishing them is labeling them and included in labeling them is NAMING them.  I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until these were completely done soup to nuts!!
So What Have Been Up to Creatively?


Jenny K. Lyon said...

I have so much trouble with names-this is a great post! I had no idea there was a online naming site!

Vera Holmgren said...

I agree with you, a name is important but I prefer to look at a picture before I read its name. It is much about the viewer's feeling.

Nina Marie said...

I'm with Vera, I like to look at a piece of art and ponder it a minute or two - THEN look at the name the artist gives it. Its like the surprise at the end. I really need to put more pictures with this post but I was so tired when I wrote it I want to research it when I have more energy!

Sylvia said...

Naming my pieces is sometimes a struggle and then other times it just names itself. My most recent piece I named "Embrace the Curve". It says it all about the struggle of making the piece and also my feelings on life.

Shannon said...

I feel like my pieces grow names as they grow- like you say, by the end they almost always have a clear, unambiguous name. Occasionally I have a piece that doesn't and in those cases I almost always want to call it "untitled" or whatever, because I hate forcing names. But that's rare.

sonja said...

On the naming of a piece, it usually comes early in the making and strengthens/or changes as we evolve. it helps me keep track of work done and is sometimes humorous as in a line or song title or verse or comment heard and absorbed than rings true to my vision. Rather than tage it with "untitled" ,i will give it a number with already used title if it has similar notes to it. I enjoyed reading all the above answers as it is always interesting to me to hear how we solve art situations!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Nina Marie, what a good post. I just don't get what Renoir was thinking about when he called the roses discarded, unless it's because they weren't still in the garden. They are too beautiful to be merely discarded.
Good luck with finishing up your quilts and naming your babies. I find that most of the time it's very obvious what they are named, but every once in a while I am totally stumped. I usually just leave it till something comes up.

Terry Aske Art Quilts said...

Great suggestions for how to name a piece! I always have a 'working title' when I begin designing/making an art quilt. Sometimes that becomes the final title, but often not. Sometimes, the title is obvious (to me), but often I struggle with finding a good title.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Yes indeed, those three listed under "other hints" are what I wrote down for myself when I moved from traditional quilting to art quilting. It suddenly felt very important to avoid cutesy names and cliches, let along lengthy titles just in case the viewer might not get what I was going for. Great post and good luck with your own naming festival.