Approach the making of the labels you place next to your artwork with thoughtfulness and common sense.
At a bare minimum, your wall labels should include your name, object title, and media/support/technique. A retrospective of your work should also include the dates.
In a one-person exhibit, your name need not be as prominent on labels and you might, instead, make the title larger and put it before your name. When showing with other people, distinguishing between artists is more important and names should be first.
If there are multiple rooms in the exhibit and your exhibit title text doesn’t appear anywhere near your works, you might need your name on every label.
If your work is hanging at a restaurant where a customer could stare at it for longer periods of time, your name should be on every label.
If the exhibit is small or in a single room and there’s a large sign with your name on it, you probably don’t need your name on every label.
Feel free to put more than one artwork on a label (as in the image above) as long as viewers can discern which information belongs with which piece.
Make the font size at least 14 points. Larger is better when you want the majority of your audience to be able to read the labels.
1 Label, 3 Ways
Traditionally, titles of artworks are italicized. You could, instead, make them bold, all caps or larger than the other text. Distinguishing the titles is especially important if they give clues about the content of your work, such as the location of a landscape.
“Mixed media” isn’t a medium. Using it is like saying something is a “painting” instead of “oil on linen” or “sculpture” instead of “bronze.” Spell out the various media you use within each mixed-media artwork. A curator is going to ask you that later anyway, so you might as well start treating your art like it’s in a museum now.
If the work is for sale, show the sale price on the label.
Labels can be printed on cardstock and stuck on the wall with rolled masking tape or something like Elmer’s Tack removable adhesive putty. I don’t recommend using the latter on textured walls because the adhesive gets caught in between the bumps.
For a more polished presentation print labels on regular paper, adhere the paper to mat board with spray glue, then cut out with a mat cutter.
Labels within an exhibition should all be the same size unless there is need for longer, explanatory text.
Place object labels to the right if at all possible. Large sculpture may require that you place a label on the nearest wall or floor.
Hang all labels at the same height and use a level to make sure they are parallel to the floor.
Label Cheat Sheet
- Viewers must be able to see your name when looking at your work!
- People shouldn’t have to guess what your work is made of.
- The price, if for sale, should be front and center.
- Above all, the labels should be consistent.