Many artists use certificates of authenticity as a means of adding facts about an artwork, and to prove its authenticity. The certificates contain information such as title, medium, date, signature, etc., which can possibly make an art buyer more comfortable with buying an artwork.
It is a document that the art collector can hold onto, and applied as proof of an artwork’s genuineness. There is no rule that says that an artists have to have certificates of authenticity, but they do add a layer of perceived value and trust for an artist, making artworks easier to sell.
The main problem with these documents is the ease of forgery. Fake certificates with forged signatures are very easy to create these days. There have been many cases in the past of forged authenticity documents. This is why I recommend using as much factual information about the piece as possible, along with references to other places where the artwork resides. (Check out the Fine Art Registry if looking for a better option for actual art documentation – I will be writing about this amazing resource soon!)
I have listed some basic information to include in a certificate of authenticity, which will depend on the artwork, whether it is a sculpture, painting, drawing, or limited edition print.
How to Create a Certificate of Authenticity
- Include the title of the painting, drawing, sculpture, print, etc., and the artist. (ie This is to certify that this original oil painting entitled “Entwined” was painted by Graham Matthews)
- Add the medium. (ie artist quality oil paint)
- State the materials used. (ie Gesso primed stretched canvas, 200g)
- Some artists like to include a small image of the artwork on the certificate, although this is not necessary if there is a good description.
- Have the name of the artist, and the year of creation included.
- State the exact dimensions of the piece, and extra details if it is a limited edition.
- Where the artwork was created, usually a country.
- Whether it is an original or reproduction (print).
- Create a certificate numbering or code system, and include a different number for each artwork. Record the code for your own records as well.
- Sign your full name in ink and include the date.
- Include contact information (address and email), and the link for your art website. It may be a very good idea to include the link to where the artwork can be viewed online, to further authenticate that you are its creator.
- Declare that all copyrights are retained by the artist, and that the artwork cannot be reproduced without consent from you.
- Some artists like to rubber stamp their certificate for added authenticity.
- Give brief instructions on how to care for the artwork.
- If it is applicable, include extra information about the artwork, such as where it has been published, and where it has been exhibited.
- Include care instructions if it is appropriate. (ie Keep away from fluorescent lighting and direct sunlight, and from areas with high humidity, and at normal room temperature – 18-23C)
Authenticity Certificate Tips
Create the certificate of authenticity in a word processing program. Depending on the software, there may be a template available, with or without a border. Print it using fine quality printing paper.
Look for certificates of authenticity at office supply stores. Some may have packages, even containing software for creating the document.
Some artists attach a sticker to the back of a painting, which serves as a smaller version of the certificate of authenticity. The advantages of this practice are obvious – the documentation stays with the piece and will not be misplaced.
Websites with Free Certificate of Authenticity Template Downloads
*Artpromotivate is not affiliated with any of these free authenticity template websites.
- Certificate Street
This website includes many free certificate templates for download. The templates have a small watermark in the bottom-left corner, with the Certificate Street link, and require Adobe Reader 8.0 for viewing.
- Free Printable Certificates
This site incudes two versions of templates, one that is free (.PDF), and the other which is customizable (.DOC), and costs $5.
Examples of Certificate of Authenticity Templates
I have seen several sites with authenticity certificate examples, but these pale in comparison to a simple search with Google Image Search.
Take a look!