What’s in a Name? How I Title My Artworks

 There are a couple good pieces  of information here regarding the naming of artworks.  They are


•   A good title will provide insight into your inspiration for the artwork, and may help the artwork tell its story.

•   A good title will leave room for the viewer to bring his or her own meaning and interpretation to the artwork.


I get that coming up with a name for ones artwork is a lot of work just as making the piece itself.  Like a mother who goes through months of pregnancy to have her baby and wondering what to name him or her when the child has entered the world.


What is in a name?  It is true that when an artist creates a piece of art (even written) those who see it will often feel something different about it from its maker.  I have run into that.  Regardless of the name, it’s a good thing to see a piece of art speak to the soul of the person drawn to it.  In the art I have had the privilege and opportunity to make, I take that question quite seriously....what’s in a name?


I want to share with you how I go about choosing a name for an artwork.  I have shared that my art is inspired by my faith in Christ and God’s Word, the Bible.  I spent a lot of personal time in my twenties and thirties reading and studying the scriptures and learning to listen for God’s voice through it.  So, a large part of the answer is that I draw the name from the verse or passage that is assigned.  My practice is to invite the Holy Spirit to guide me through blessing my mind and my hands as I work.  This is important as the purpose of the gift of Craftsmanship is about glorifying God and according to Ephesians 4:12 “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;...”


As an abstract artist, I like to choose titles that help the the viewer get a glimpse of understanding (apart from what it may mean to that person).  I will use three examples.


There is a 12x12 piece I call Peniel, (or Penuel) which is Hebrew for Face of God or Facing God, a reference to Jacob wrestling with an angel through the night before being given the name Israel.  Expecting the viewer to dive a little bit into the meaning and history of the word, he would discover this story.  This was a piece I did representing a time where in my own life I struggled with God and finding direction and meaning in my life.


A second example is Precious.  This is an artwork that at a glance may appear as flowers/bulbs swaying in the fields, but I explain that if you look closer, you will see the crown of thorns to the bowls holding the prayers for the martyred saints.  So the name Precious comes from the verse speaking of how precious to God is the blood of His saints. (Psalm 72:14).


Finally, a third example is a recent artwork I did called Mashach.  I have been studying the spiritual aspect of being an artist, and learning about the concept of an army of artisans taught by Matt Tommey and Christ Otto.  In my studies I came across the word Mashach and learned it meant “to anoint with oil or smear with paint.”  In essence it raises the state of the artist to one of a kind of priest or prophet.  So, I gave the piece that name. Having since studied this particular artwork, I can see in the center what looks to me as an upside down guitar.  I also left my handprint on it.  The triangle could be symbolic of the Trinity.  It’s how my mind works.


So, as you may be able to tell, as an artist, my naming method is wrapped around the expression of my faith.  Every artist is different and moved by his or her own passions in life.  What are yours? Are you an artist or artisan?  Do you name your art?  If so, what is your process?