Finding The Way

Statements about the painting process of Joel Fletcher.

Each Signature Unique

Several examples of Joel Fletcher's changing signature style.

Since 1974, every one of my paintings has been signed differently, a technique that is certainly contrary to the norm. While this has been my modus operandi over the years, I had never given it much thought until recently when I started reflecting on how my unique way relates to the entire concept of artists’ signatures in general.

Around the age of 18, I was facing the artist’s dilemma of establishing a stylish signature for my artwork. As per tradition, this would be the official mark for the indefinite future. It then occurred to me that I did not have to be locked into that mindset. It would be more interesting to coordinate my signature to the concept, subject, and look of each individual painting. Therefore, each signature became an exclusive decorative element - a final touch that complements the art! The challenge was to then completely make up the lettering style or find an appropriate typeface for reference. To this very day, I continue to change my signature to suit each piece. It has become the art of signing without signing.

The custom of signing art began during the Renaissance when art shifted away from a group effort under the guild system to art created by individuals. An artist’s signature serves a different purpose than an autograph or a personal signature used for documents. It signifies completeness, finality, and as an identifier. Most artists use an intentionally designed “branding” style while others play it loose and carefree. Still, tradition expects an artist’s signature to be consistent. Some artists go through different periods and alter their signatures to reflect those changes. Other artists refrain from signing their work at all, considering it a distraction or act of vanity. Ultimately, it is a personal choice that each artist needs to make.

My choice has been to avoid a consistent signature style which, oddly enough, has become my authentic signature style, a method that is unique in the world of art.

© 2022 Joel Fletcher

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