Signature thoughts

Three months ago, I posted how I was looking to develop a signature to use in my art work. These were my first 2 tentative attempts:


Rachael Farrow gave me some useful feedback. Although a signature is not a logo, there are some similarities between them. Rachael shared a piece on logo design which helped me frame the development process so that, with myself as my own client, I could create a signature that suits my needs rather than just being driven by my wants.

For the design brief, I listed these needs:

  • Unique and identifiable. A name usually meets this criteria, and would be preferable over a nondescript pattern like my TH monogram above.
  • Aesthetically pleasing. I’m interested in creating beautiful art that is nice to look at. The signature should reflect this.
  • Rich and characterful. I want to inject character into my art. The signature should be fitting.
  • Personal. It’d be nice if the signature has something personal to me, more than just my name.
  • Simple in form. It has to be simple enough to paint repeatedly, without unintended variation.
  • Longevity. I’m not talking about hundreds of years, but I wouldn’t want to grow sick of it during my lifetime. Although I can easily change it any time, unlike a tattoo, it’d be a shame if I decide to.

I played with this set of criteria, and thought of doing something in line with my English/Spanish/Basque heritage. As I described in my earlier post, my Spanish surname – Hards Vicente – is identifiable. My forename is optional. So “Hards Vicente” is a good choice for the core of my signature.

lauburu As for creating a characterful signature, it occurred to me that I could use the Basque lauburu symbol, as shown here. The lauburu, which means “four heads” in Basque, is on old symbol possibly dating back to 200BC. It is frequently found on old graves and can be seen around the Basque country on buildings and in other places.

The lauburu can even be seen in this portrait by Goya – whose dad was Basque – of Joaquina Téllez-Girón, Marquise of Santa Cruz:

Francisco de Goya - Portrait of Joaquina Téllez-Girón, Marquise of Santa Cruz, circa 1805

After trying out various combinations, I found this arrangement quite pleasing:


It meets all the criteria I set out.

BUT! … and it’s a big, huge, massive, but … the lauburu is one of various forms of swastika used around the world. In the Basque country, it is instantly recognised for what it is. However, out of context in my signature, it is prone to be mistaken for the swastika appropriated by the Nazi party – a horrendous association.

So, as much as I like my lauburu signature – I’ve been living with it for the past 2 months – I think I’ll have to rule it out as an option.

I was about to publish this post, but today I’ve found something else that might be suitable. I was thinking about other things that are personal to me. In my early years growing up in Suffolk, I was surrounded by wheat fields and have always associated wheat crop with that time in my life.

For example, this is a scene typical of Suffolk, from near Stradishall, which is 20 minutes from my home town, Bury St Edmunds:

wheat field in suffolk

My gratitude to Bob Jones for the use of the photo. It is (c) Copyright Bob Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I sketched 3 examples of wheat, simplifying each time, and came up with this first attempt at a wheat-based signature.

sig wheat

The sketch was quick – the letters are shakier than intended and the wheat symbol could be refined further (made a bit skinnier perhaps) – but overall I think it isn’t bad. I’ll have to give it more time though to see how I feel about it.

I’d be interested to hear anyone’s thoughts on any of the above.



    • timhards

      Hmm. You’ve inadvertently confirmed the one doubt I had with the wheat-based logo! It could easily be the logo for a wheat-based food item, and you’ve found one for me 🙂 I will consider if there are any alternative symbols that have resonance for me. I ruled out all programming-based symbols because they are too close to my work life, but perhaps I was too quick to act. I’ll have a think.

  1. labellerire

    Hey, I didn’t know you were still working on your logo! Though if you want my opinion; I’d have to say I prefer the Lauburu. Aswell as pointing to your Basque roots, which I know is important to you, I think it ties in better with your particular artistic style. This is simply my opinion, but perhaps the wheat is a bit generic? Not in the style you’ve designed it, but it may bring up the wrong connotations too, in a different way. Although the Lauburu’s connections with the Nationalism Party are a downfall, luckily it doesn’t look similar enough to the swastika to immediately call up those connotations. But that’s just my thoughts. 😛

    • timhards

      I am indebted to you. After writing off the lauburu signature (I almost didn’t post it) you have given me permission* to seriously consider it again. I used to be bolder – with my mohican and all – and would have had no qualms using it when younger, but have mellowed a bit since then (I sound ancient!). However, as an artist I must recapture that spirit if I don’t want my art to be stale and inhibited. Another reason for sticking with the lauburu.

      * I said you gave me permission. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Previously I wouldn’t have needed that. But I needed a kick this time to remind me to stay true to my personal feelings. If you spot me falling for that again, please give me a kick!

      Even if I don’t choose the lauburu, this moment might be one of the key developments in my artist life.

  2. labellerire

    I have an idea: Maybe post some examples of your work with your different logo ideas superimposed onto them? Give us a chance to see how they’d look in situ.

    • timhards

      I’ll do this. In the next day or so I’m going to be posting a series of pictures from the latest Drawing Room I attended. I will probably post some signatures after that.

  3. Pingback: My signature: HARDS VICENTE | art fn
  4. lruthnum

    I love it with the wheat symbol – so simple but effective. Plus, as you say, it gives a wonderful reflection of your home and heritage, which is perhaps a huge part of why you are an artist 🙂

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