“What name should I use?” is among the most-asked questions I receive.
“It’s easy!” I say. “Use your name for your art business.” It never would have occurred to me in a million years that artists would use any name other than their own for their work.
Well, apparently it’s not always that easy.
The arguments against using your given name are 1) that it’s difficult to spell or pronounce or 2) that it’s too common. Do you see how these two problems are exact opposites: one is too hard and the other too easy.
If you identify with one of these problems, there’s another artist wishing she had your problem.
Still, I understand that, to you, it’s still a problem. Let’s consider how using a different name might fix things.
Pros and Cons of Using a Different Name
Alice Norman has the “too easy” problem. She asks:
What are the Pros and Cons of having a different artist’s name? I’m considering using a variant of my first name because the Internet shows over 200 results for Alice Norman.
There are only two reasons I can think of to use a different name in Alice’s situation:
- We’d all like, at some point, to reinvent ourselves. It could be kinda fun! To me, this is the biggest pro of all: a bold new beginning.
- I can’t argue that you’d be easier to find on the Internet with a less common name. (Just double check to make sure there isn’t a porn star with your name of choice.)
On the other hand, here are three reasons why it’s a bad idea to use a different name:
- It’s your name. How would you like to go down in the history books with a name you weren’t born with? I wonder how many men were named “John Adams” back in the day.
- Will those closest to you call you by your new name? Will they recognize your marketing message when it reaches them? Will they call you by your given name in front of other people at your opening?
- Will you get confused as to when you have to be Alice and when you have to be your new name? How will it feel for you to be called by a different name?
If you’re going to use a different name, my sense is that you’d be best served by legally changing your name so that there is no confusion.
The alternative to using a different name is to use a variant of your name for your art. Let’s say your middle name is Joan. You could be Alice Joan Norman, Alice J. Norman, A. Joan Norman, A.J. Norman, or Ali Norman.