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How To Label Artwork in an Exhibition

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 how to label artworks in a professional exhibition setting.


Skip the hassle of formatting! Print and mount your own gallery and museum quality art labels using our Canva Art Label Templates.


Custom vinyl lettering for artwork labels

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.

Since vinyl lettering can be cut very small, you can adhere the information for each piece directly beside each artwork. Check with a vinyl cutting professional to see what size the text could be. They may also have specifics about what is available in terms of colours and fonts. Two vinyl cutters in Vancouver include:

Allegra Press

Signmaster Signs

Creating a map for artwork info

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.

Making adhesive labels for artwork 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.


Need more info about labelling artwork in an exhibition? Check out Examples of Artwork Labels


81 responses to “How To Label Artwork in an Exhibition”

  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. 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

    • y.e.jarrett says:

      Thanx Tim!! Brilliant idea!!

  6. Natalia guimaraes says:

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

  7. 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!

    • Hi Charlie,
      It’s up to you… most people would just say “watercolour on paper,” though you can always specify the brand if you would like to let your clients know that you have used archival materials.

      • Thanks for your quick reply! You just made my job easier 🙂

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

    • Hi Vikki,

      It’s your choice, but in the interest of clarity, you could say:

      each 27 x 27 cm

      and / or something like:

      installation 27 x 112 cm

  10. 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.

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

    • It’s totally up to you. I would lean towards YES- it can’t hurt and it will reinforce your authorship. (PS, sorry for the delayed reply… have been away from the computer all summer.)

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. Alan Leader says:

    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?

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

  16. jcarterjones says:

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

    • Normally you would just put the actual paper size. If the frame was “part of the work” you could list the entire frame size as part of the piece.

  17. swapnil shingare says:

    thank you 4 this information

  18. 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.

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

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

  21. Is the order of the dimensions important?

  22. Does this system apply to Prehistoric and Ancient Near East works? There are usually no attirbuted artists?

  23. Should the work have where it was excavated (pertaining to my previous question)? I’ve seen several labels that include the excavation location, and neglect to include the dimensions, as well.

    And what of diameter if there is a diameter? How would you address that on a label?

  24. Where do you put the year it was made?

  25. Thankfulness to my father who told mme regarding this website, this blog
    is genuinely awesome.

  26. This post has been so helpful. I have two follow u questions – 1. what average size do you recommend for a single wall plaque? 2. should the wall plaque be in a specific location and a specific distance from the painting?

  27. Hi! I work at an art gallery and we will be having an exhibit this coming Thursday (It will be Friday on your place since I’m in the other art of the world) and was wondering if I can do the labels by using Word? We’re planning to put a thumbnail photo of each artwork in their corresponding label and I find it kinda difficult to do it via Word. Hope you get what I mean and this question isn’t that confusing at all. Haha Thanks!

  28. laura demme says:

    where can you get precut matboard cards to put printed labels on, or do you have to cut your own?

    • I’ve been getting my labels printed directly on 8-ply beveled matboard from gallerytags.com . They look much more professional than labels or business cards.

  29. Marian Scott says:

    I got invited for a local art show and they say to provide info cards for my artwork. What does that mean? An info about my works or infor about me, like a business card? Am confused. Also this will be my first time, so am at loss and nervous. Please help!

  30. I’m all very new at this, so have several questions:
    – For a collaborative artwork, do you just list the artists alphabetically? Write ‘Collaborative work:’ and then list the names? Are there any conventions around this?
    – For a triptych, do you write ‘Triptych’ after the title? Or not include that anywhere?
    – When providing dimensions of a triptych, do you write the total dimensions of the panels when squished together? Or the dimensions including desired spacing (if you even have a desire about spacing!)? Or the dimensions of just one panel followed by ‘triptych’? I want it to make sense but have no idea what is normally done. Thanks in advance. Claire

    • Hi Claire,

      There are no straight rules for listing names in a collaborative art project, but alphabetical (by last name) might be a fair way to do it. For example, “Jane Doe and John Smith”.

      Many people indicate that a work is a triptych, so that viewers recognize it as one piece. You could put it in brackets after the title, for example, “Sunset” (triptych)

      The total dimensions of a triptych depend on your preference. Does it have to be installed exactly the same each time? Then I would put the total dimensions, for example, “90 x 20”. If there are three parts that can be hung in different ways, you could put “30 x 20 (each panel)” or something similar.

      Cheers

  31. I’ve been getting my artwork information printed directly on beveled 8-ply matboard at gallerytags.com . Looks real professional with no sticker edges or cutting required. They’re not the cheapest option, but their definitely the nicest looking labels I’ve seen.

  32. Robert Giberson says:

    Hi, I use 1/8 ” balsa wood strips in the handcrafted picture frames that I make. These frames are rather nice and apealing to the eye in that the designes that are crafted with a single edge razor blade is awesome.I would like to have a lable that I could include all of the information. Example Handcrafted by name date, month and year when constructed. Where can I purchase these labels? I want the type that Artists use with a glue on back.

    THANK YOU !

    • Robert,
      What size label are you looking for? That amount of info could fit on a 2.5×4″ label easily. gallerytags.com can make you custom sizes also. They will take your info and print it directly on 8-ply matboard up to 12″x24″. Very professional looking. Give them a try.

  33. karenalways says:

    This is very helpful. Would you do anything differently if labeling the back of a printed copy that will be handed out (vs. art displayed on wall)? Bonus question: on back of artwork, would you place information at top, bottom, in a corner? Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I want to get this just right.

    • Hello,
      As far as I know, the information would be the same regardless of where it is posted (although, if you are including price, you probably don’t want that on the work.) As for placing the information on the back of the work, I’ve seen it on any four corners, but I don’t think there is a “right” place. Cheers!

  34. What if the piece is part of a series?
    Is this correct:

    From the series: Los siete enanos, Champion

    From the series: Los siete enanos, Fly Little Bird

    What do you think about punctuation?

  35. Hello!
    How does one label a 4 part series displayed together. The work has one title, but each piece is then labeled No. 1, 2, 3 and 4. Is that relevant info to place on the label? Where would it go and how would it be worded?

    • Hi Maci, you could just make one label instead of four, with the title listed like:
      “Title” (No. 1, 2, 3, and 4)
      That should make it clear to the viewer that it is a four part series.
      Cheers!

  36. Hi the size of the art work is it measured from frame boarder to frame boarder or from the paintings work prior framing?
    Also, what is the correct procedure to acknowledge the art work in the stile of another artist work?

    • Hi Renato – usually the size of a work does not include the frame, unless the frame is part of the artwork. There is no correct procedure for acknowledging the style of another artist in your own work – use your best judgement!

  37. Do you list size of frame as width by depth or depth by width?

  38. Hi, Ive been searching, But what is the standard size? 5×7? or larger? Im doing several showcases this year and I want them to look perfect! Thanks!

  39. Barbara Cohen says:

    I’m doing a show and the venue will not permit the info card to be hung on the wall. My work is acrylic on canvas. Any suggestions?

  40. See my Facebook page
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  41. Dennis Kemmerer says:

    How does one label artwork where the title is unknown? I have two pieces from a larger series by a now-deceased artist. The artist named the *series*, but no one knows if the individual pieces were named. I’ve been told that “Untitled” is to be used only when the artist has specified that as a title, and should not be used when the title of the piece is not known.

  42. […] more into labeling artwork in exhibitions as i felt out sign was of poor quality. I visited this page where i learnt that small fonts, often around 12pt are most popular and keeping the label as […]

  43. How would one create a label for artwork of a deceased artist where the medium is unknown?

  44. Hy thanks for precious info, i m having a corner exhibit at caroussel du Louvre this we in Paris, could you tell me where to put the info of numbered as a photo for exemple is numbered 4/8 next to the size ? Next to the price ? As it s an international fair art show would u recomend i put sizes both in centimetres and inches ? Merciiiii

  45. Thank you for your information! I have 2 querstions.

    #1. For pieces where the imageis17x24 and you have a 1inch border, making the paper size 18 x24. What size do you use in the description?

    #2. When you jury or apply for a show and you are labeling your piece.. Do use image size, paper size or frame size?

    Thanks,
    Robin

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  47. Debra Weiss says:

    Great Piece. I have been searching for some guidance for the venture (https://isellpackaging.com/custom-label-printing/) and from the beginning of this article, it is equally influential and relatable to my thoughts over label designs. Keep up the great work.

  48. […] How To Label Artwork in an Exhibition […]

  49. Krista Santacroce says:

    This has been very helpful. I’m making labels for artwork that will be hung in a corporate headquarters. The CEO has several originals but also numbered prints as well as framed postcards and posters. How do you notate that?

  50. Well worth a read. Got great insights and information from your blog. Thanks.

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