Friday, February 5, 2021

How to Title A Quilt on Off the Wall Friday

Son Light, Nina-Marie Sayre

I don't know about you,  but I like me a good title.  I mean if the title is good, I'm more likely to pick up a  book ... buy a movie ticket... or catch a new TV show.  First impressions mean a lot and the title is the first impression of most things....except art.  (Now for this discussion let's not forget that every quilt is art!)

The thing about a piece of art is that the viewer will look at it first then look at a title.  The title is

The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893

a chance for the artist to give the viewer another insight into piece.  The title may  be an avenue of the theme of a piece, therefore contributing to the full series the piece is within.  The title can give a viewer something concrete to relate to when recalling the piece.  As an example, Edvard Munch, The Scream (or The Scream of Nature as he called it)....need I say more?

There seems to be two camps when it comes to titling art.  The one camp is happy to give very generic names to their pieces, sometimes to the point of calling them "Untitled" or just a number...#1...#2...etc  Usually the idea behind this is that the artist doesn't want to influence the viewer on what the piece means.  The viewer is suppose to take from it their own unique impression. Jackson Pollack, who used numbers to title his paintings wanted the viewer to “…look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a subject matter or preconceived idea of what they are to be looking for.”

The other camp find titles vastly important and tend to spend much time coming up with just the right one.  Titles capture the essence of piece. They are one more chance for the artist to convey their intention of a piece.  Titles may become the link between the artist to the piece to the viewer.  I mean let's face it, its all well and good for an artist to say, "This is whatever you want it to be" .  But the average Jane Public isn't really up for that.  

"Momma is That A Lady Bug", Nina-Marie Sayre 
(The quote that inspired the quilt)

Eph 4:4, Nina-Marie Sayre
(Look up the scripture)

I myself (OPINION ALERT) love titles.  I love reading them, I love making them.  Lots of times, I'll use titles to help lend continuity to a series of pieces or to convey an inner meaning.  I've found that buyers like something they can relate too and a good title can strike a cord with them as well.  For instance, during an Open Studio, I had several pieces up for sale.  A man I didn't know seem struck with my work but couldn't figure out which one to buy.  We started talking about the pieces and he asked me about my creative process which led to the titles.  I pointed to a piece from my Crosses series and I said that is called Son Light.  He loved the play on words that you could sun in working through the piece and the crosses of Christ.  He immediately settled on that piece.  

So How to Pick a Title?????

  • Articulate the theme, brainstorm words that convey it
  • Try witty, clever, ironic play on words that will once again relate back to the theme
  • Be concrete - if its a bowl of fruit - call it Bowl of Fruit
  • Pick out a small piece in the overall composition and call it that
  • Relate the piece back to series it belongs to ...ex...Log Cabin I, Log Cabin II
  • Create mystery of the piece which will leave the viewer wondering how the title relates to what is before them
  • Try one worded titles that are abstract but still point your viewer into the right direction

Urban Shadows, Nina-Marie Sayre

Some of my  Do's and Don'ts
  • Don't use 50 cent words...simpler is better
  • Do be genuine...don't  call it something it's not
  • Do think on the title as you're working on the piece
  • Don't make it too long
  • Do be original
  •  Do double check all spelling!
  • Don't be afraid to ignore all of this advice!

So what are your thoughts on titles?  Do you struggle or do they come easily?  Do you like to title things??  What are your best titles?? What are titles you like??  I love reading your comments!!

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Unknown said...

Interesting and useful post. I have a lot of trouble naming my quilts and I'm jealous of clever titles. The best title ever was my "187 Bald Mem in the Rain" quilt. BTW "Son Light" is a masterful piece.

Anonymous said...

Some titles come to me, some titles are given by others. I know if I have to work too hard it, the title will elude me for awhile, and I just hope to have one by the time the quilt is finished.


Sherrie Spangler said...

For me, coming up with a title is half the fun! I'm in the camp that thinks a good title gives the viewer one more way to relate to the piece.

DVArtist said...

Personally I don't like titles on my art. It feels like it puts people in a box and doesn't allow them to see the art for themselves. Just my opinion. Really beautiful quilts.

quiltingbydawn said...

I do title all my quilts. Some come easier than others. I kind of think of the title as an artist statement. It gives a little bit of what the quilter was seeing in the choices that were made while putting together the quilt.

Jo said...

Most of my work has a title from a early stage, usually shortly after I do the first design pass (I often design on the wall.) Often, my pieces tell me what to call them. I seem to draw from song titles a lot, possibly because I sing (badly) as I work. Occasionally the title changes, if the direction of the piece swerves.