How To Label Artwork in an Exhibition

Once you’ve hung artwork for an exhibition, how are you going to pass on the details of the works to visitors? There are several different options for labeling your work in this setting, though each should let visitors know:

  • The artist’s name
  • The title of the work
  • The medium of the work
  • The size of the work
  • The price of the work (if applicable)

Here is an example:

Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night, 1889
Oil on canvas
73.7 cm × 92.1 cm (29 in × 36¼ in)

Below are some options for professionally labeling your artworks in an exhibition setting.

Vinyl

Often galleries and museums will use vinyl to display an artist’s name and / or the title of the show near the entryway. Next time you visit an institution, have a look.  Custom-cut vinyl lettering is easily removable and will not damage walls. You can see an example of what vinyl-lettering on a wall looks like here and here.

Since vinyl lettering can be cut very small, you can adhere the information for each piece directly beside each artwork.

Using a font that is 12pts or less would generally suit this purpose. You can talk to vinyl cutters to discuss options for sizing, colours, and fonts. A couple of vinyl cutters in Vancouver include:

Allegra Press

Disc Imaging

Signmaster Signs

Map

Making a map of the gallery is a good option if you want to keep the walls around your work entirely clear of other information or distractions. Using a floor plan of the gallery, number your works and provide a corresponding list.

Adhesive labels

If you do not want to go to the expense of having custom vinyl cut for labels, you can use traditional printer labels to display your information. Some people stick these directly onto the wall, but unless the wall is perfectly flat and smooth, this usually looks a bit unprofessional. You can instead stick your labels onto mat board or foamcore, then using a ruler and ex-acto knife cut the edges away so that the label is flush with the mount.

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33 thoughts on “How To Label Artwork in an Exhibition

    • Omair,
      I’m not totally sure… mine is this way by default. It might be an option you can choose when composing a post: when you are editing or writing a post, there should be a menu on the side that lists post formats. Mine defaults to “standard.” Hope that helps. Otherwise, you can try emailing the folks at WordPress. They are very helpful!

  1. Clear Shipping Labels work well. Avery supplies a template. Use a word program.
    and print it. When you stick it on the wall just the words show up. Cheap but professional looking

  2. Would one include the brand of paper used in the tag? For example, would one say “Watercolor on Watercolor Paper” or “Watercolor on Strathmore Paper” or something else? Thanks!

  3. We have a lot of art, and everyone want to know details, and I can never remember all of the names, details, etc. I don’t want to put something permanent on the walls. Does anyone have a suggestion?

  4. How would you label a piece which is a series of 4 works all of the same size? Would it be e.g. “27×27 cm x 4″ or the total surface area of the series on the wall?

  5. What does the measurement include? The drawing itself (for example) or does it also include the matte around it?

    • Usually it would be just the size of the artwork itself, not the mat or frame. You can list both the artwork size and the outer frame size if you wish… that way if someone knows their wall size, it’s easy to determine if the work will fit.

  6. Thank you for this information! I am labelling art for art homework but was confused as to how to do it.

    But I have a question: how should you label it if you’re labelling it in a single line? Should all the information be separated by commas?

    Thank you!

  7. If I have a piece that is acrylic on paper that I have used gesso on, should I specify that?

    Thank you for this helpful article!

  8. Many times when I have entered a small gallery, at the entrance there is an 8.5 x 11″ or 8.5 x 14″ piece of paper with thumbnails and brief descriptions of the artist’s work on display.
    Is there a descriptive word or term for that page of thumbnails?

  9. I have found using black foamcore cut to a 45 degree angle and then just printing the labels and spray mounting them works really well. (Makes the label appear to be floating.) Also using a light spray adhesive makes the labels reusable. Make the labels a standard size and pull off the old paper and put the new ones on.

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