certificates of authenticityMany 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.

Certificate of AuthenticationThe 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.

If you are here looking for free certificate of authenticity templates, there are a couple resources at the end of this post. To find many more, click the image on the right.

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


  1. 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)

  2. Add the medium. (ie artist quality oil paint)

  3. State the materials used. (ie Gesso primed stretched canvas, 200g)

  4. 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.

  5. Have the name of the artist, and the year of creation included.

  6. State the exact dimensions of the piece, and extra details if it is a limited edition.

  7. Where the artwork was created, usually a country.

  8. Whether it is an original or reproduction (print).

  9. Create a certificate numbering or code system, and include a different number for each artwork. Record the code for your own records as well.

  10. certificates proof artistsSign your full name in ink and include the date.

  11. 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.

  12. Declare that all copyrights are retained by the artist, and that the artwork cannot be reproduced without consent from you.

  13. Some artists like to rubber stamp their certificate for added authenticity.

  14. Give brief instructions on how to care for the artwork.

  15. If it is applicable, include extra information about the artwork, such as where it has been published, and where it has been exhibited.

  16. 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


certificate authenticity for artworkCreate 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

  1. free certificate authenticity templateCertificate 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.

  2. Touch People with your Art - Click Here!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!

Post a Comment Blogger

  1. Hi Graham,

    Thanks again for a article about something I would never have thought to include with my artwork! I have another stupid question. Where and how do I go about copyrighting my artwork and does this cost me anything? After all these years as an artist you'd think I would know some of these things, but as I never really looked into selling my artwork before these issues have never been considered.

  2. Hi Graham,

    Thanks again for a topic I would never have thought to consider when creating new artwork. Having never before sold anything on a more professional level, the subject has never really come up.

    I have (another) stupid question! How and where do I go to copyright my artwork? How much does this cost? After all these years as an artist you'd think I would know the answer to some of these things! As I said though, I've never looked into selling my art except to friend and family.

    Thanks for helping an ignorant artist out.

    Stephanie :-)

  3. @Stephanie Holznecht, fine artist
    Hi Stephanie,

    Copyrights are done by visiting http://www.copyright.gov/forms/

    The cost is $35 for online filing and $45 if mailed.. that sounds very costly, but multiple items can be copyrighted with one application.

    I should say that not all artists decide to do this since art is automatically copyrighted. This just makes it easier to prosecute anyone who would steal or copy art.

  4. Love the site,
    I have designed my own certificate of provenance, instead of authenticity, as 'artwork' no matter how it came about, always has some outside influences. This is formalising the (code)notion of recognised hidden outside influences.
    Even though I paint or illustrate photographic imagery, the artwork adopts memory and personal reflections, presenting a collage of thoughts brought together in a title.
    Thank you for the site.

  5. hi graham
    i am a member of the paintings group and enjoy your posts. you are tireless with your time and info that you share!

    am i a bit nuts, or did i read and comment a post of yours about things to do to prepare for a show. my next show is a month away, and i'd like to go over that list again but cannot find it!
    (I have huge problems posting to blogs other than wordpress, and i hope this will go through.. it might be an 'ecuador' problem - who knows!)
    No se han podido comprobar tus credenciales de OpenID this will happen about six or eight times, and eventually i am more hard-headed than cyberspace!

    thanks if you can help.


  6. @playamart
    The post is found in the top menu under "Art Show"...

    This is the link...


    Good luck in your exhibition!! :)


  7. Your information on certificates of authenticity is a great help, and so is your information on copywriting artwork. However, I am a bit confused on how artwork is automatically copywrited. How is this possible? I know when writing something, you can copywrite it by simply mailing the original to yourself and keeping it sealed once it has returned to you... But I do not understand how artwork can be automatically copywrited without doing anything. I am not trying to be stubborn; I am an artist who is considering selling my work and wish to know and understand all I can before starting the process. I do not want to go through all the effort, only to fail on a small technicallity. Thank you so much for your time and the information you give. You are already proving to be a great and reliable source.

    1. http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html

    2. Here is what the copyright office has to say on the subject:


  8. Hi Graham! I just searched about certificate of authenticity today. This article is what I needed to read. I have one question. Can certificate of authenticity be handwritten instead of printed?

    Hope to hear from you. Thanks a lot!

  9. @Elisa
    Hi Elisa. Thanks for your question. I would recommend a typewritten COA, as they appear much more "official" than handwritten.

  10. Graham, If I were to have another child, I would name him after you! Every time I need information and help with things as they develop in my career - ArtProMotivate has the answer! I'm so grateful for all you do!
    (your biggest fan)

    1. Thank-you Shana!! :) That's the greatest compliment I ever received here! Thank-you so much for all your support!

  11. Thank you for this breakdown on a COA.

    Since original works don't usually need one, I still wish to supply a COA with a finished piece (because it contains some pertinent information dealing with the artwork) and use it as a receipt. Will it be unethical to place the cost in which the collector bought it for?

  12. This post is really great, with guidelines and templates, found the information I was looking for, Thank you Graham for this info, Take Care and God Bless you from Rizwana! www.razarts.com

  13. hi graham!
    thank you for this. just recently i joined my first group show and they asked me to provide a COA. i think i'll be designing my own just to be more authentic. haha.

    thank you for your write up about this :3 very helpful indeed!

  14. what code systems can you recommend for original art.

  15. Anytime a certificate of authenticity does not satisfy all of the above requirements, consider yourself at risk if you buy the art.

  16. I read everything I could on artpromotivate and have to thank you for a successful FIRST EVER art show! View my "pitch" video here: http://suzystjohn.blogspot.com

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