How to Sign an Autograph

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From a creative point of view, an autograph is more than just your name-it's an opportunity to add value for fans or distinguish your original works from reproductions or impostors. From a marketing standpoint, your signature is part of your brand-and it doesn't hurt to put a bit of thought into what it will look like. Not to mention that a bit of practice will help streamline the process and avoid hand cramps and sloppiness. Here are some tips for autograph signing.

Things You'll Need

  • Pens of various size, construction and color
  • Paper of various finishes

How to Create Your Signature

  • Write your name. Not just once or twice, do it say, 50 to 100 times. Most people will notice a loss of definition in certain letters or some interesting squiggles in a longer name when they compare the first signature to the last. These places are prime opportunities to simplify a long or complex autograph for ease of use.

  • Try out several variations of your name: include or exclude a middle name, use an initial in place of your first, middle or last name or use a nickname or pseudonym instead of your legal name. For instance, few people may know who Romain De Tirtoff was, but many recognize the name Erté; this "nickname" came from the French pronunciation of his initials.

  • Look for "signature" characters in your handwriting. Everyone recognizes the "W" and "D" in Walt Disney's signature because of the little loops he formed with each letter. Identifying letters you do exceptionally well or adding a flourish to the beginning or end of your name will make it all the more recognizable. This is especially true for the more public signatures like those of artists.

  • Practice your autograph until it becomes both second nature and speedy. Imagine you have a line of folks standing at a table, all wanting their books signed, and the store's about to close. You don't want to disappoint them, but you want to keep your autograph consistent from a brand standpoint. Speed and familiarity make both of those things possible.

How to Gather Signing Tools

  • Choose the type of pen based on the surface you'll be signing. Slick surfaces like photographs, trading cards or glossy book covers benefit from a large-tip permanent marker. Interior book pages may not be thick enough to stand up to markers, so a traditional pen is better, but make sure your ink dries quickly to prevent smudging or offsetting.

  • Test drive a number of pens to find one that works best for you. I find roller ball pens to write more smoothly than ballpoint because less pressure is involved in getting the ink to stick, and that counts when you're signing a lot of autographs. Felt tip pens also offer smooth writing, but usually the heavier ink load makes them unsuitable for more delicate objects.

  • Buy several pens, once you've settled on your preference, so you'll always have backups. Even the best brands have the occasional dud and you don't want to pull that one out of your bag and not have an extra handy.

  • Sign in color whenever possible. It used to be that colored autographs were harder to fake compared to black ink signatures. These days it's more a style issue; the colored ink just makes it stand out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Signatures don't have to be cursive. Try out printed versions or mixtures based on your own handwriting tendencies.
  • There's nothing that says an autograph has to be in a straight line. Stack your first and last names, trail the letters vertically or create a monogram effect with your initials.
  • Silver markers work great on slick objects with a dark background.

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