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.

 

Update:
There is now a new post on The Practical Art World that explores Artist Labels in depth, including examples. Check out Examples of Artwork Labels!

 

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36 comments

  1. Thank you. This was very helpful and timely as I am having an exhibition in June.

  2. how ur posts are showing continue reading feature in home page ?? my doent shws tht way?

    • 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!

  3. Thanks a lot.
    This was very helpful. My students are having an exhibition tomorrow and we used your website as a reference.

    Congrats from a fellow Vancouverite.

  4. Aweome! This took me way too long to find. I couldn’t figure out what the labels were called! I kept searching for Art ID cards.

  5. tim

    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

  6. Natalia guimaraes

    Help! But what do you call it?
    Technical specifications?

  7. Magnificent site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to several pals ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

  8. Superb post and the information given in this blog is really good.

  9. Charlie

    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!

  10. Barbara

    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?

  11. Vikki

    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?

  12. Nola

    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.

  13. what if you are having a solo show? should your name still be on every label?

  14. 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!

  15. Cherrie

    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!

  16. Alan Leader

    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?

  17. Thank you for this info, I’ve got the foamcore now I’ll go get the labels.

  18. jcarterjones

    When labeling tags for framed prints, should I use the frame dimension or the actual paper print dimension?

  19. swapnil shingare

    thank you 4 this information

  20. 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.

  21. It’s enormous that you are getting ideas from this
    post as well as from our argument made here.

  22. What if there is no wall and your art is on an easel? How do you attach a label?

  23. Jenny

    Is the order of the dimensions important?

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