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Alphabet Soup - What do the Letters Mean?

Updated: Oct 13, 2019

PSA signature

If you have ever looked closely at an artist’s signature on their work (including mine), you may have noticed several letters following the signature. Have you ever wondered what the letters stand for? Here is the explanation –

I spoke in my last post about state, national and even international organizations that promote artists that work in soft pastel. These types of organizations exist for artists working in a variety of mediums. Some of these organizations may be open to anyone who is willing to pay the annual member dues – sometimes called an associate membership, but the more prestigious organizations have several levels of membership which brings me to the letters following the signature. To be able to use the initials of the specific organization- in my case, PSA for Pastel Society of America - an artist must be juried and accepted for ‘signature status’. In the case of the Pastel Society of America, an artist must submit a body of work consisting of 5 pieces that demonstrate proficiency in pastel as well as “a consistency of artistry among the five images”. This means that you can’t just submit your 5 ‘best ’paintings, but that the submitted work needs to demonstrate a consistent artistic vision. The jury may look for an understanding of the principles of composition & color, drawing ability, as well as the skillful combination of “composition, color, technique and subject matter that conveys a sense of individuality”. The jury will look for an artist’s unique point of view in whatever they choose to paint. The submitted work must be original and not completed under the supervision of an instructor. Typically, the jury that reviews the work includes members of the organization who have achieved a high level of achievement in the medium being reviewed.

Pastel Society of America signature membership

So, what’s the big deal? Signature status in a major national art organization is validation that your work has been judged to be among the best in the field. It is a goal of many artists to achieve signature status in a major art organization. I know it was one of my personal and professional goals. I am sure the whoops of joy could be heard throughout my neighborhood when I received my acceptance to signature membership in the Pastel Society of America. It was a big deal! To me anyway. My years of perseverance and hard work to improve and perfect my style, technique and vision had paid off. I had been accepted into 'the' major national pastel organization. And doesn’t everyone like to have their work acknowledged by others who are also experts in the field?

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