How the Hell Did You Come Up With That Title?

I am often asked by people, “How the hell did you come up with that title?”  I was thinking about this question the other day as I wrote down a new idea on my never–ending list of prospects. If you have ever visited my studio you will notice many title lists tacked to the wall. I feel the reason I choose to title my work is from my years as a cartoonist.  The words of the comic, the jokes, were the focal point when I had a syndicated strip, while the artwork was shrunk down to the size of a postage stamp. Now that my medium is painting, the focus is (mostly) on a larger, grander scale.  However, word play is still important to me.  There are many artists who do not title their work, and that is their personal choice, but I get pleasure out of playing with words. It is another extension of my creativity.

The news junkie that I am also parlays into this process. A headline might grab my attention or a journalist’s particular word choice may inspire me. That’s when my mind begins to play with sounds and meanings.  That “inner-dictionary” within my brain starts to mix and match words creating a caption I cannot shake out of my head.  Questions ensue.  I ask myself, “Will this title grab people’s attention like it did mine?”  I experiment with the mixology of my chosen words and find the cadence that slowly transforms into a melodic flow. Is it a rhythmic beat? Does it sound physical, emoting primal images like my paintings? Is the combination funny?  An unwavering prerequisite for me. If yes, then my list grows longer.

My titles can inspire my paintings creating a relationship between the two, but not always.  Sometimes there is not a connection at all, which is fine.  It’s not a necessary component.  What is necessary is for the title not to overshadow the artwork and the completed result, title and painting, be humorous and commanding.