Use (or Drop) Another Name for Your Art Business

Last week I encouraged you to use your real name–in whatever form you choose–for your art business. This week I want to give hope to those of you already creating art under a different name or business name.

There are two primary reasons for using a name besides your own (a “Doing Business As” or “DBA” name).

The first is that you are a service business like Art Biz Coach and want the benefits of the service to be in your business name. But even with a service business, you should be front and center for your business since we hire services from people we trust and like. If you want to see how this is done, visit Art Biz Coach and notice how my picture is on my home page and on almost every inside page. Also, note how I put a personal photo in every issue of this newsletter. I don’t know about you, but when I’m buying services, I sure want to know who is behind them and why I should trust them as an expert.

Artists who also provide services include muralists, wedding and portrait photographers, instructors, and so forth. But don’t think that you need a DBA just because you provide a service. It still might be to your advantage to keep your name as your business name.

The second reason to use a name besides your own is that you have a production line or “less serious” body of work that you want to keep separate from the art you choose to be known for. Reserve your name for how you want to go down in the history books and use a DBA for the other work.

If neither of these two reasons applies and you are already known under a DBA, don’t worry about it. You’re known! If you’re still early in your career and using a DBA, I advise the following.

For your Web site, purchase not just the URL with your business name, but also your own name. Link them together so they go to a single Web site. If you have been using a URL that isn’t your name and you want to switch, keep the old URL active, but start using your new Web address on all of your marketing material and in your emails. If the two URLs are linked, you’ll wean visitors out of the habit of typing in the old one.

Make your name prominent next to your business name. Your business won’t just be “Golden Gems” but “Golden Gems by Sue Henderson” or “Sue Henderson’s Golden Gems.” Make sure your name is on everything and especially at the top of every single page on your Web site. This announces the handmade quality of your work and differentiates it from mass-produced products. It is also a good way to transition out of using a DBA name. Add your name to the DBA when you use it and eventually stop using the DBA.

Use a photo of yourself on your Web site–not necessarily on the home page (that’s for your art!), but on your “About” or “Bio” page. Read this article to guide you with your photos.

One final note. Just because you are incorporated or official under a DBA name does not mean that you have to plaster that name everywhere. In fact, no one has to know until they buy something from you. If their purchase is by credit card, they need to know your DBA because, presumably, it will show up on their statement under that name. For instance, I am incorporated under Stanfield Art Associates, so when you buy something from me, you get a receipt from Stanfield Art Associates, Inc. But my brand is Art Biz Coach.


Sometimes you need to use a name besides your own, but you can transition away from a business name that isn’t your own.

Are you using a DBA appropriately, or are you hiding behind it?

DO THIS———-~>
Use or drop another name for your art business. Decide how you want to go down in the history books and use that name for the work that will be associated with it. Use a different name for work you don’t consider to be on par with your serious art.
But if you are already using another name and probably shouldn’t be, make the transition. Start associating your name more and more with the DBA name. Begin making your name more prominent than the DBA and you will eventually be able to drop the other name.

This is a decision that many artists struggle with. How did you decide what name to use? Any regrets?

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9 comments to Use (or Drop) Another Name for Your Art Business

  • I use 2 parts of my legal name and changed my “middle name” for my art work. My grandmother was an artist and taught me much of what I know. She was known as Ada Hurd Bryant. It is more than homage, but I won’t bore you with the details.

    I don’t regret it. It has felt right from the beginning, unlike using my full real name. My signature connects me to family, to my artistic roots and to something I feel is unique. Eventually, I will probably add my artistic “middle name” to my legal name, but even if I don’t, it doesn’t matter because it will still be my “brand name.”

  • BJ Parady

    I use my childhood nickname–initials of my first and middle names–and my married last name. It keeps my artistic life a little separate from my private life. Although, it can be a little confusing when my art and personal worlds collide–being known by two different names. But not enough that I would change the way I’m doing it.

  • BJ Parady

    BTW, the link to ‘read this article’ about photos of you on website doesn’t work.

  • Quel pseudo utiliser pour promouvoir son activité artistique ? | Art Deco Online

    […] […]

  • Hmmm,

    Well I use my middle name, Terence, as my first name for my artwork. This is because I do a lot of other ‘low brow’ work with my given name Philip T. Harding, so adopted a psuedonym to separate my proper work. Same person – two brands. As Phil, I’m known for doing one type of stuff, and Terence for the other. I don’t feel I’m being dishonest, it’s just that people like to pigeon hole… so I’m hogging two!

    What do people think about this? I’d like some feedback.

    T (or P)

  • I have been advised to use a pseudonym for my commercial work which one gallery hinted to be my abstract art. Another gallery has asked to print my conceptual work on calendars and mugs there by making the work commercial (or applied arts) yet the imagery is still conceptual. I am not sure if I should go forth and sign all work off by my name there by creating more exposure as an artist or if this will bring the value of my work down in future to art investors. Your thoughts and feed back would be great, I found this site very useful but Im still not sure on way forward.

  • Jess posting again… I also give art classes as well as photography shoots and I am going to study Art therapy to obtain my degree in Art Counseling. Therefore I am not sure what name to promote for all the ventures I am involved in and where to draw the identity line between art and business or calumniate all into one if it does not jeopardize my arts value as a conceptual artist for investors.

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