What distinguishes a work of art from any old Instagram photo? The line can be fuzzy, but there’s one important difference. Instagram photos have hashtags. Artworks have cutlines. And the cutline goes like this:

[name of the artist], [title of the work], [year it was made], |medium and materials used in the work|, [dimensions of the work]

Let’s look at a real-life cutline. You might remember this still life painting from the presentation I gave. The cutline for it would be something like:

stilllifeSo answer a few easy questions: what is my name? What is my artwork called? When did I make it? What’s it made out of? How big is it?

And if your photograph is an inkjet print, there’s no need to try and dress it up. Don’t say “Ink on paper.” It’s okay to just say “inkjet print”.

Sometimes, if you’ve made a wonky sculpture, or a video work that can play on a screen of any size, you don’t have to give the dimensions. You can get away with saying “dimensions variable.”

All your artworks should have cutlines. And any time you put an image of your artwork online, make sure to include its cutline. It’s like a signature or stamp: your way of saying, “This is my creative work. My creativity.” Even if you decide to upload an image of an artwork to social media, you should always include its cutline. Put it before all the hashtags!

By including a cutline, you give people a way to credit you if they want to use your image. It gives information about you as an artist: what you do, and how you work. These are facts that you might want to share with other artists or curators who you’re interested in working with.

Best of all: figuring out the cutline is a good way to assure yourself that your artwork is complete. Use the cutline as a kind of checklist. Does your work have a title? (And if it doesn’t, is that because you want it to remain untitled, or have you just been too lazy to think of one?) Do you know the size of your work?

Even if you haven’t printed your photograph yet, figuring out your cutline will encourage you to think through every last detail.

So now that you’re experts on the cutline, make sure you include one with your submission!