I need HELP finding an artist of a particular painting

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Have you seen a painting that you just can't get over? Is it haunting you? Sometimes, it can be hard to find the artist that did a specific painting. I have this problem a lot with thrifted artwork.

It is like finding a photograph of someone who is lost and trying to remember the name of their loved ones. I am constantly trying to look through old books or Google documents until I find that person who painted it!

It can be really hard though, especially if the painting isn't signed. I think that some artists do this on purpose, or in the very least, they don't think about it as they're finishing up their piece.

Anyway – if you've got a painting that you need to find the artist of, we've got some tips and tricks to help you. Let's figure this out together.

Orange abstract painting

One: Do your research.

The easiest way to find an artist is to determine from what specific time period the piece was painted. Many paintings share a similar appearance through time. Paintings from the 1800s generally look like they're from that time in history.

So, search galleries and art museums for similar styles and works. Maybe you found a print of a piece in a thrift store – search for similar prints to find the time period.

If it is clearly digital, you can probably just use Google Image Search. More on that below.

The best tool on the internet to find an artist is a reverse image search. Reverse image searches allow you to upload an image and search for similar images online.

Let's say that I found a piece of art – but it wasn't framed, so all I had was a photograph. I can upload that photograph into Google and Google will show me similar images. This search engine is very powerful for finding an artist's name and information, especially if they're famous.

Even if it doesn't find the exact artwork, researching similar art that pops up in the database might help you find the artist. Your browser will save your search history, so you can access information later on that you didn't think was important.

Four paintings on wall

Three: use your social network.

Just ask. You'd be surprised what people know: an art history website, maybe they saw something similar in a catalogue or museum once. You never know!

You can even ask a museum curator or librarian if they have any ideas. There are many collections that are not shared publicly in a museum, but the curators know. They might be able to identify a similar background, style, or signature from surprisingly few details.

Also: people who work at museums LOVE this stuff. So don't be afraid to ask. It's a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives if they're able to help you find the artist.

Grayscale photo of statues

Four: Be patient.

Like I said, sometimes this search takes time – but don't give up hope. Keep looking for similar artworks and you'll eventually find the artist's name.

Remember that artists are people too! They usually have their names written on their prints or paintings somewhere. If you can't find any signature, just keep asking around. The curator at your local gallery might know the painter. They might know the time it was created.

Five: Bring your example wherever you go.

Print out a little business card, or keep a picture on your phone of the art you're looking for. It's much easier for someone to look at your photos than it is to listen to a description.

Visit all of the galleries in your town. Talk to other artists. Keep getting that artwork out there, and eventually, you'll find an answer.

Want even more intel?

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