After you’ve put the finishing touches on your masterpiece, figuring out how to market it with a compelling artwork title might be the last thing on your mind. We get it: sometimes, taking care of the nitty-gritty can feel cumbersome. You’re an artist! You’re interested in creating something expressive and impressive.
But the reality is, engaging artwork titles, descriptions, and keywords not only help people find your work, they help people connect with it in a more profound way — which means bettering your chances of landing that new collector or client.
Every day, we ooh and aah at the scope of creativity splashed across Artrepreneur’s profile pages, but there’s one thing that consistently surprises us: the lack of important descriptors. And while it’s true that great work speaks for itself, reinforcing your vision with words is a powerful way to deepen your connection with the viewer. Peruse these practical tips for how to choose an artwork title that is memorable and meaningful.
Think of an artwork title that resonates
Don’t make the mistake of being another “Untitled”! Strong titles are memorable and pithy: they cement your work in the viewer’s mind and help them find their way back to it. So what’s the best way to land on a title that sings? Let’s take a look at the best practices to help you get started.
Let’s imagine you’re a realistic painter and that you’re about to share your latest still life. A straightforward, descriptive title is not only direct and to the point, but it can help your piece come up in searches, connecting it with a targeted audience.
Landscape paintings also benefit from simple titles that describe the geographic location and elements in the composition. Consider using time (morning, evening, after dark, etc.) and seasons to evoke the mood and lighting in the work. People who are unfamiliar with the scene will discover a new location that they may love, while other clients who have an emotional connection with the landscape will be able to find your work via search and, potentially, decide to hang it on their walls at home.
Or, perhaps you create contemporary abstract works that are up for interpretation. A clever title gives you a unique opportunity to tell the viewer exactly what your art is trying to say. Think about how you’d describe your artwork or style: is there a way you can parlay that into a clever and engaging title?
Another approach is to conjure up unique turns of phrase. Something strange, witty, or even “punny” grabs the audience’s attention and invites them in for a closer look. It’s also a fun opportunity to get expressive and show another facet of your personality while encouraging the viewer to engage on a deeper level.
Descriptors make the difference
Thoughtful descriptions can shed light on important details a viewer may have missed, which makes the difference between establishing an interpersonal connection—and perhaps even a sale. And, of course, smart keywords help art lovers find the work that resonates with them while fostering a like-minded community.
Having a strong statement about each of your works is also an opportunity to elevate it and garner attention. Interestingly, thoughtful descriptors not only help the viewer understand where you’re coming from—they can facilitate a profound connection. Fun fact: there have been Artrepreneur Open Call winners that have been selected in part because their thoughtful descriptions made all the difference to our jurors. Don’t underestimate the power of an articulate description of your work!
Abstract landscape painter Gill Bustamante uses evocative titles to draw viewers into her work, and takes advantage of descriptions to help them interpret the scene. She also gives behind-the-scenes details about process and technique — especially important for online viewers of the work, who can get a tactile sense of her paintings by reading her description instead of seeing it in person.
Generate smart keywords and hashtags
This is so important: there is a wealth of talent out there, and you don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Look at your artwork and ask yourself why someone might seek it out. Is it a landscape? A portrait? What is your medium? Are you trying to send a specific message? Think deeply about specific words that are both broad (“painter”) and precise (“Black painter”), and lean into both to capture a broader audience. The trick here is to look at your work from multiple angles to generate as many keywords as possible.
If you’re feeling stumped (or want additional support), use free keyword generators online for inspiration. These generators help indicate other terms you may have overlooked while referencing the words that are more popular search terms. One word of advice: it may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes it’s better not to lean into the most popular terms. “Art” generates millions of hits, for example, which means it’s nearly impossible to rise to the top. So try to get specific: let’s imagine you paint portraits of hip hop musicians. “Hip hop painter” or “hip hop art” will connect you with your target audience while narrowing your pool of competition, which is the best of both worlds.
Creative professionals looking to building a following and sell their work should consider developing a list of targeted keywords or search terms. Explore this SEO for artists guide by Artrepreneur for more smart tips on how to brainstorm potential keywords and enhance your online presence.
Why should you title your artwork? As an artist, you are always seeking to make a connection with your audience — and artwork titles, keywords, and descriptions are just another way to do that. The devil is in the details! It may require a little thought, but you’ve already come this far. You pour your heart and soul into creating, and the goal is to share your vision with the world. So give your art a leg up. After you finish your next work, take a breath and take that extra step: it really could lead to your big break!
Do you have any tips for picking titles that resonate? How are you going to change your approach to titles and keywords? Let us know in the comments.
Kate Kelly attended Syracuse University and majored in French Literature, which inspired her to start her first blog, FauxFrench. She has worked as an illustration agent at Morgan Gaynin Inc., a premiere boutique agency in New York, as well as written for commercial and marketing assignments, conducted historical and academic research, journalism, and education