The Name Game: How to Name Your Art Business

One of the first steps an artist makes when turning professional is to decide on a business name.

Below are some insights about naming your art business, with links to previous posts. Be sure to read the comments, which have terrific personal insight from other artists.

Joanne Gilbert

Joanne Gilbert, Personalized Cloth Alphabet Book. Joanne uses the business name Drawn to Letters. ©The Artist

Choose a Name – Not Just Any Name

If you’re a fine artist, use your name for your art business. That’s all you need!

Read why.

There are circumstances under which you might want to use a different name for your art business. In particular, you might use a DBA name for a service business (workshops, for instance) or for a production line of work.

Read these suggestions.

Other Artists Share Their Naming Experiences

I asked artists how they decided on their professional names. Read their insights. In particular, read about what women wrote. There is solid evidence that all women should use their maiden names.

Even though you select a name by which you would like to be known, it doesn’t mean that careless people will abide by your wishes.

Sometimes, people make up their own names for you. Really.

Read about 2 artists’ dilemmas. And my suggested way of handling such situations.

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29 comments to The Name Game: How to Name Your Art Business

  • The problem I had was that my domain name was already taken. There was a Peter Ahrens out there that was using the .com address for his djing website. The .com.au was free and I took that since I’m Australian, but I hope I don’t lose traffic because I don’t have the preferred domain name.

    • What about peterahrensart.com ?

      • I didn’t think about that one, but it would be easier to describe my work as photography (even though it is fine art photography) than art. http://www.peterahrensphotography.com becomes that bit too long, though!

        • Could do ahrensphotography.com ??

          I haven’t seen the work, so I’m not sure. I don’t distinguish between art and photography and think “photography” in the name might imply a for-hire photographer.

          • Kathleen Eggert

            My husband and I started out together as Eggert Glass, pre-internet. We now have individual bodies of work which are showcased on our website: Eggertglass.com. I want to do a facebook fan page for the business and can’t decide if we should share one Eggert Glass Art fb page or have one each, i.e., Kathleen Eggert Glass Art and Dale Eggert Glass Art.

  • The Art Studio of Meltemi was an obvious choice for my art studio. Meltemi is the Greek Summer Wind. Most of my ‘Traditional/Representational art’ is based on Greek inspirations. This Meltemiart Domain name was available. Given the number of Meltemi’s in the Greek connection I was totally surprised to find even this name available. My own name was already taken by 134 UK based Phil Kendall’s alone. Also see my blog @ meltemiart.com for more on ‘Meltemi’.

    • Meltemi: Do you find Greek-lovers find your site fairly easily because of that? How popular a word is it?

      So, do people call you Phil or Meltemi? I think that would be confusing.

      • Hi Alyson,
        Meltemi? About 387,000 mentions on Google
        Meltemi art?About 49,000…
        Art Studio Meltemi? about 18,000
        Meltemi Phil Kendall? about 4,300

        Yes I agree the name is a bit of a problem that is why Phil kendall aka
        Meltemi/ Meltemi aka Phil Kendall has to be it for me. Either way it makes
        the mark on the historical record of the world. Meltemi has been my online
        nome de plume for the last five years and many simply call me Mel.
        Greek’s and their use of the internet is a slow & expensive development for
        them…but I get some traffic from them.
        The art started as a retirement activity without any commercial intent then
        the commercial bug in me cut-in. then I learned how to build a website, add
        the ecommerce, add the blog. My mornings are the business side [unless a
        commission is on-going] the afternoons are the dedicated studio time. the
        studio is a beautiful 8′ x 10′ summer house in my garden at home.
        I have the best job in the world, I am an artist.

  • When I was single, I signed only my first name, Sari…When I got married I added my new last name, Grove to the signing…I keep my banking still in my maiden last name for economic safety…Online, I use GroveCanada, which has worked well to push both name & location…I registered GroveCanada as a business, with both Joseph & I as partners…I like to include both of us, since we are both artists, & again, online, for personal safety…(also, I like the Christo & Jeanne-Claude thing)…

  • Over the years (since high school) my friends started to call me Jenny Schu when my real last name was Schumaker. It stuck through college and I had started to introduce myself to people in that manner because it was easy. In art school pretty much everyone including professors and staff knew me as that name so I stuck with it. I’m not sure who I have to thank for giving me my business name at this point!
    I got married 1.5 years ago and in the excitement I changed my social media, e-mail title, etc to Jenny “Schu” Behler. What a mistake! The first press release that went out with that on it made change everything back to Jenny Schu and the married name is just a formality. I did purchase jennybehler.com though because I meet potential clients through my husband and it seems to be working well since it goes right to jennyschu.com
    I’m glad to know that keeping the long-time known name is better than trying to change it due to getting married, thanks!

  • I am working on starting my own page to sell my art work on. I’ve been pondering business names for a little while and can’t seem to quite “fall in love with any.” I want something creative. The name that keeps coming back to me is ‘ A Brush Above the Rest.’ Any ideas?

  • SHONDA

    Hello! I am starting my own business as well and I’ve actually been selling my artwork like crazy. My name on my facebook page is shondaleann (my first name Shonda and middle Leann). What do you think? I have two children who were born on the same date(no not twins) Dayne is 10 and Rylee is 4 and their birthday is December 7th. was maybe calling my business something that represents that also. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Sue Dickson

    Finding this blog has been very helpful and fun (sharing some of the humorous experiences). I am in the process of deciding how to name my DBA. After reading all the posted input- I will be using my name.
    I do both art (several mediums) and photography. Concerned on the length of the name and would like feedback. Sue Dickson Art and Photography, Sue Dickson Nature Art and Photography, Sue Dickson Studio Creations. Thoughts??

  • What an interesting discussion. For over 10yrs I was one half of Tate Sisters – myself and my sister’s maiden name is Tate, we lived in London, we worked together and the name worked well especially with several famous galleries with the same name – people remembered us and we had many sales. Even if we were to google our own individual names our Tate Sister website would pop up on the 1st page.

    Unfortunately when I moved to the states in 2005 she was unable to compromise or work well as a team. In 2010 I broke free and became – Project M. My actual name is way too long and I saw this as a new “project”. Hoping perhaps we’d get back together again at some point n the future…..

    It feels like I have had to start from the beginning again as I was not allowed to share my new name with my old client list. However I’m just starting to get some recognition (some press, print sales and painting inquiries) – I feel the work in the end shines through. I’m slowly getting a new body of work together and hoping things will get better in the future. A name is important, but I think it’s up to each individual circumstance for things to work.

  • Loretta Stephenson

    A touchy subject in my house. Married for 35 years, have always been known by his last name. But it’s a long one, and I frequently paint small canvases. So, I often sign Retta, my art name for many years. He seems offended I don’t want to use “his” name. sigh.. does not understand…

    Now that I want to expand my business, I think I need to be more formal?? My blog and Facebook is “Art by Retta”. I’m wondering if I should change it all… start clean with my maiden name?? Loretta Brown, or I’d even prefer Retta Brown. Naturally (!) there is another Retta Brown “out there” already, with all versions of my name taken as domains. That’s why I grabbed up ArtByRetta while it was still available. Thanks for the discussion… food for thought.

  • [...] “What name should I use?” is among the most-asked questions I receive. [...]

  • Sandra

    I’m just getting started selling my work, and am not sure what I want to do as far as a name for my business or whatever. I won’t be using my married name, especially since it won’t be my legal name much longer. But my maiden name (Brower) doesn’t really sound right with any ideas I’ve come up with. I’ve considered using my daughter’s name, or a nickname I had as a child.

  • tarleya

    so im just starting out im !7 ( almost ) but ive sold quite a bit of my work now im thinking of advertising but i dont know what to call myself . if thought about “natarleyart”
    because that involves my first name well my fullname but it seems like a mouthful.
    i thought about “the blank canvas ” but thats taken.
    i sign my work with nktwose but it wouldnt seem right to have that as a big kinda name an you help me?

  • Larissa Cartier

    Hello, I’m trying to come up with a name to use for an online website. I’m an artist, sculpture, maker. My work is mostly horror related zombies monsters etc. the problem is that I wanted to use my name, but my last name is Cartier it’s causing issues. Any suggestions? Thanks

  • Katherine Cochensparger

    Hello. I am just beginning to go professional with my painting and have been contemplating this very issue. I have heard elsewhere as well that it is best for artists to go by their name in their branding. However, where the problem comes in is that my last name is Cochensparger. People I have known for years still misspell or mispronounce it or just avoid using it all together. On the one hand, it is memorable because people have to repeat it several times when they hear it. On the other hand, I fear that it will prove difficult in search engines or word of mouth for people to be able to find me. Any thoughts on this?

  • I would stick to your own name. Google searches these days sometimes spell check and it’s much easier to find things. I’m using a brand name now for several reasons, but it would be so much easier to have stuck with my maiden name. But after two years under Project M I’m just starting to get a small following :-)