Naming Art is Tricky, Bambi

Ever wonder how artists come up with names for their art?

I do too, sometimes. Many of my images remain untitled for a while; the colors and shapes in the photograph entice me, but the overall impact isn't always something I can articulate. Names elude me. 

These days, nearly all of my art has one-word titles, which was a convention that stuck a few years back. Many are states to which you might aspire: Calm, Enlightenment, and Peace.


Or qualities that you might seek or desire, such as Trust, Latitude, Clarity, Brave. The grammar nerds among you may notice they aren't all quite the same part of speech; to which I say, art doesn't care.

Other names are more literal places or seasons; Coast and Seaside and Summer, for example.


I love jumping around an playing with multiple meanings and connotations words hold. Bloom, for example, is both super descriptive of the image, and a nudge to go forth and flourish and thrive.


Reflect is a fun one: it was a very literal description of this photo, but also a suggestion

Most of the time I create names by gathering the feelings or sense or place or season that an image evokes. For example, these two spectacular sunsets aren't going to shy away from a challenge, and their names encompass this:


Naming art, for me, is usually a very unsexy process of looking up synonyms and related words to find the right cadence and feeling for the photograph. Usually they call to me once I find them, as the photograph nearly jumps up and down in excitement telling me that's her name. It takes time. Sometimes images will languish around for a while, waiting for a name before I release them into the world.

But you can't rush it.


Every so often, I misname an image and she gets renamed later. Most infamously (to me), I once called this poor baby Flow, which feels a bit like naming your child Bambi or Delilah. Just don't. (Side note: I've now googled variations of "baby names for strippers" and the internet ad machines now think I'm pregnant. Swell.)


I mean, sure, Flow is a good state to achieve in life or yoga, but it's a little too reminiscent of a woman's least favorite days and even my male friends were making jokes. She screamed at me nonstop for weeks. Finally, I renamed her Breathe, mirroring what we were all able to do once that awful name was scratched off her birth certificate. 




Kelly O'NealComment