What’s the Back Story on Your Art?

By Carolyn Edlund

Your work may be appealing on the surface, but what do you see when you flip it over?


Certificates of Authenticity

Certificates of Authenticity work well on the back of art with details about the artist and the reproduction.


Years ago in a fiber art class, my professor looked at a piece I had completed as an assignment. Then she turned it over, frowned and said, “The back of your work must be as finished as the front.”

She was right, and I learned a lesson. This applies to all art, even when the back of the work is not visible when the work is installed. The way you finish the back speaks to the quality and perceived value of your work, and can considerably enhance it.

What’s on the back of your work? If it’s two-dimensional, do you take advantage of that piece of real estate to attach a Certificate of Authenticity, information about the subject matter, yourself as the artist, or other information?

Hiding knots and stitches, nails or other signs of the construction of a piece of art is important, of course. Framers often cover evidence of their construction with brown paper. At the very least, this type of finishing should be done.

Have you considered using the back (or inside) of your work to house a hidden surprise? Perhaps a beautiful decorative lining in a pocket, or words inscribed on the bottom of a handmade ceramic pot. Many greeting card artists take the opportunity to use the space on the back of each card to share a quote, a small image or piece of humor.

Small touches in unexpected places add value to your work. Using available space on the back of your work to help tell your story can make the difference in closing the sale. Consistent use of unexpected touches can be an expression of your brand as an artist, even when used on the back or the inside.

How are you using available space on the back of your own work to finish and enhance the value of your own art?

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  1. I do put a card on the back of my work with my bio. and a description or explanation of the piece.

  2. I love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a good idea. I currently put my initials, year and a stamp of a butterfly on the back of all my canvases. But I’m going to look into certificates of authenticity. Thanks for sharing!

  4. “Surprise is the beginning of delight.”
    Roy H. Williams, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads

  5. Could someone please post a Certificate of Authority so I can see what it looks like? Thanks!


  6. Thanks, Carolyn, but I couldn’t read them, even blowing them up on my screen.


  7. thank you so much Carolyn. I am a primitive artist, and I mean PRIMITIVE. I started painting at the age of 69 and have now been painting for two years. It is complete excitement to me. I have had no lessons and actually know very little about the art world, technique, styles, etc. I am just thrilled at the honor of being in your world. And now, thanks to you, I have learned even more. Thanks once again. Marie

  8. ” I was just thinking about how you are a strong painter, and enjoy teaching, but need help with all the marketing and business stuff… I am going to start praying for a helper for you – in whatever form that takes…”
    this was from a fellow successful artist.
    I feel like this site is an answer to prayer.
    Thank You so much!!!

  9. I love the idea of an art buyer getting a little extra surprise when they finally get a chance to view the backside of a piece of art. For that reason, I always sign the backside with a big, dramatic signature complete with doodles, dots, stars, and XOXO’s. On the front of the work, I use a stencil logo for my “signature,” whereas the backside autograph is more like a graffiti tag, or an additional, secret work of art adding a personal touch that only the owner of the piece is privy to.

    • Great point, Nikolas. That secret touch that is only for the buyer is a little gift, a piece of your creative spirit and could be the icing that finalizes the sale!

  10. I use the back of my framed work to share my story by attaching a typed copy of my story, social media and website info so the customer knows exactly where to find more of my work and how to contact me.

  11. Yup.

  12. Very timely info for me! I am just about to ship out a commissioned art to a new customer and was working on a Certificate of Authenticity…. Thank you for reading my mind!

  13. Here is a link to the list of things that should be on a Cert of Auth….

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