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The Art of Identification

An Artist's Mark: Dive into the world of artists’ monograms at’s database. Notice how letters are used to form unique yet recognizable designs. Then design your own monogram for signing works of art that you create. Choose a letter or letters from your first, middle, and last names. Try different letter styles and play with the arrangement. Add your own touches to make your monogram distinctive.  

Rolling It Out: With some clay and a dowel you can create your own cylinder seal. Begin by rolling the clay into a cylindrical shape. Press a small dowel through it lengthwise. This will make a hole so your seal can be strung onto a string. Use small pointed tools to carve a design and perhaps your name into the clay. You must carve your design in reverse; otherwise, the prints made with your seal will be backwards. Fire the clay in a kiln. Then roll it over a rectangle of fresh clay to see what the seal has to say.  

Art Collector: Use the Art Collector feature of ArtsConnectEd to see other artworks with unique signatures and identifying marks. Can you spot the signatures? Add to the collection by finding other works that have artists’ signatures, symbols, and monograms on them.
Click here to access the collection. Click here to learn more about Art Collector.  

An Eye for Advertising: Like the artists whose signatures are highlighted here, businesses and other organizations use designs that quickly convey their identity without the use of words. Such designs are called logos. Think of stores you visit or products you see on television that advertise with logos. List the names of these companies or products and draw their logos. What makes a logo successful? Why do you think logos are so widely used?  

Exploration Station: Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online learning sites to learn more about Chinese painting and seal stamps at A Look at Chinese Painting.
Take a closer look at Mesopotamian and other early civilizations on the Met’s Art of the First Cities Web site.  

Your Own Coat of Arms: Design your own coat of arms at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s interactive Web site, Design a Coat of Arms. Learn about the symbols, colors, and other features used in coats of arms.  

November 2009