Branding: Artists, Build your Brand Around Your Name

I’ve written and spoken extensively about branding. I don’t consider myself to be a branding expert by any stretch, but as I’ve worked to build branding for Xanadu Gallery and RedDotBlog.com, I’ve learned quite a bit about the branding process. I’ve also learned how important branding can be when you are creating a relationship with art buyers.

In today’s post, I would like to address a branding question that comes up quite frequently in relationship to branding for artists:

Should an artist use his or her own name when building a brand, or is it a good idea to create a business name and brand around that name instead?

The most common form of the question I hear is whether it’s okay to use the artist’s studio name instead of just using the artist’s name.

How we Named our Gallery “Xanadu”

I can understand where the question is coming from. There is something very alluring about creating a business name and using it for branding purposes. I remember the excitement my wife and I felt when, in 2001, we decided to open a gallery. It was a lot of fun thinking about how the gallery would be organized and how we would try to make it different from other galleries. We thought about the type of artwork we would carry, the location, the layout of the gallery and about a million other things you have to think about when you are opening a new business. We distilled all of these thoughts into a business plan and began working toward getting the gallery off the ground.

At some point, we decided it was time to come up with a name for the gallery, and, surprisingly, the naming process turned out to be one of the most agonizing parts of the whole launch process. A name is so important, and once you select a name and have signs and letterhead made, you are pretty much stuck with it. Naming is something you definitely want to get right.

GallerySquareI remember spending days brainstorming about names. We first thought about what we didn’t want use. We decided using our name or last name, as some galleries do, wasn’t going to work. My last name, Horejs, is both unpronounceable if read, and unspellable if heard. With that out of the way, we started thinking about everything else we might call the gallery. We must have come up with hundreds of names, and sorting through all of them was a real chore. Finally we landed on one that we thought was perfect. It distilled into a single word exactly what we wanted to convey through our gallery name: “Quintessence”. “Quintessence Gallery.” It had, we thought, a nice ring to it.

We asked our attorney to register the name with the state corporation commission. By some cosmic coincidence,  someone had registered the exact name several weeks earlier. What are the chances that we would have thought of the same name for a gallery at almost exactly the same time someone else?

Of course, now, I am very happy that we didn’t end up with the name – it doesn’t sound nearly as good in retrospect as it did at the time and can you imagine how expensive a sign with 19 letters would be!?

Now we had to go back to our list of names and try again. I wish there was a great story about the flash of inspiration that lead us to Xanadu Gallery, but the truth is my mother-in-law saw the word “Xanadu” on a personalized license plate  and said, “how about ‘Xanadu!?'” The name stuck.

Once we had a name we got to work on logo design, stationery, business cards, and our website. It was a lot of fun, and building Xanadu’s brand has been an undertaking of love ever since.

That’s a long way of saying I can completely understand why an artist might decide to name her studio and then think about building a brand around the studio name. It’s fun to employ your creativity in coming up with a name instead of using the one your parents stuck you with, and, let’s face it, “Last Chance Studio” has more pizazz than “Jane Smith, Artist.”*

*(my apologies to any artists named “Jane Smith” who are reading this article – it’s a perfectly lovely name!)

Should you Use your Name or a Business Name?

Unlike other businesses, as an artist, you are your brand

In spite of this, I’m going to strongly recommend that you build your branding around your name, rather than around a studio name. Unlike other businesses, as an artist, you are your brand. When collectors see your work, they are going to feel a connection to you, the artist, even if they have never met you. Art is a pure form of communication – your vision is going through the viewer’s eyeballs, straight into his brain, and is going to stir an emotion. The connection is going to feel very personal, and that collector is going to want know your name, not your business name.

Art is one of the last things a human being can buy that hasn’t been engineered by a marketing committee and mass-produced in a factory. Using your name is going to help convey this message.

Because you are your brand, I recommend keeping the spotlight on yourself. Use your name on your cards, your brochures and your portfolio. Try to get a website URL that includes your name. The more your buyers see your name, the more they’re going to remember you.

Can you create a business name to use in addition to your studio name? Sure! There’s no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I would recommend that you use the studio or business name in subordination to your name. You could include it below your name in your marketing materials, as a kind of subtitle.

Exceptions

There may be reasons that you would want to disregard this advice. If you aren’t focused on creating one-of-a-kind works and have a production studio set up where employees are helping you crank out work, a studio name may make more sense. This is especially true if the business might one day be sold to someone else.

Another exception to the rule would be if your name is impossibly long or complex. Even then, I would suggest thinking about changing your name or creating a pseudonym around which you can build your brand.

What do you Think?

Do you have a studio name you use instead of your given name in marketing? What made you decide to do so. Did you think about using a business name for marketing and then decide not to? Why? Share your experiences, thoughts, opinions and random ramblings in the comments below!

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

68 Comments

  1. This is a timely post for me, Jason, as I’m thinking of rebranding my artist practice/business. I run a b & b so named my art studio (and Yoga studio) with a sister name (and developed a symbiotic logo recognizable to those who frequent my b & b). It seemed to make sense at the time to approach my brand that way. I do indeed use my name as my artist website url but am thinking it’s time to capitalize on that more as I develop my production pace in the studio.

  2. My name is it. I agonized too long over my name, changing it, shorten it, modify it, beautify it… name it. It all became so confusing to not be Lise Tanguay Chowdhury. My business cards are Lise Tanguay Chowdhury. My beautiful letter heads and studio is Lise Tanguay Chowdhury and I now sign on the back of my work proudly Lise Tanguay Chowdhury. Yes it is indeed long and complicated just as my life and work is. My passport was the answer. There I have it. I find it very difficult to operate any other way. I tried LTC and I hated the fact it sounded like a local repair shop. Collectors and buyers can sustain a certain level of complexity and my name fits in that category. Have a great day, signed: Lise Tanguay Chowdhury

  3. I started out with a business name that reflected where I worked and what I did…ten years later it still described my studio space but not my current focus. Changing the name of my business was important, but a royal pain in the neck. I never want to do that again. So I ended up with my full name (which I don’t have to register) and a nice generic descriptor that explains what I do but leaves plenty of room for evolution over time. I use part of my old business name as a subtitle for my studio name…as you say, best of both worlds. I still own my old website domain name and it redirects to my new one… I hope a couple of years should be enough of that.
    Long winded way to say that I agree – use your own name, and if you use an additional descriptor, don’t be too specific. You never know where your life and art will take you.

  4. Thank you James for a very interesting article. I’m very glad about my name – Helen Shulkin. Shulkin is a Jewish name and comes from Shulamit – feminine form of the Hebrew name Solomon. All ancestors of all Shulkins in the world (also of David Shulkin -current United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs) are from Belarus.
    Helen Shulkin

  5. Timely advice. My business name, Monkeyshines, was totally appropriate when I was designing children’s clothing and art dolls. When I got a brick and mortar shop and studio the name came along. Now, six years later, my mosaic work is sort of leveling up into more serious sculpture and Monkeyshines seems a little too cute. I just got my first website (yay) and decided to use my own name as the domain. And new business cards with just my name, url, and phone number. I’ll also have cards for the shop with the Monkeyshines logo. I feel that it represents me as a more serious artist.

  6. Name. One thing that never changes. Google it, people can find you. I have a studio partner and we have local studio recognition as Island Made Art, which is helpful in a tourist location but we still market ourselves by our name. Repetition and consistency is critical in branding.

  7. Hey Jason,
    I, like you, have a difficult name. Looks easy, but is non-memorable. When I picked my website name in 2005, PaintedWorld, it was easy to spell and pretty much covered it and my house painting business. Now, I use PaintedWorld, the fine art of Donna Lee Nyzio. Best of both worlds… (yay!)

  8. I have kept a slightly modified version of my name for 30 years. When I married my Mr Smith over 31 years ago, I hyphenated to Sharon Wadsworth-Smith and thought although it sounded a bit long, it had a nice arty ring to it. When I was going to open my first art studio I was going to advertise it as The Little Gallery, and the Yellow pages directory ad rep said don’t do it! He said that as an artist, I am my name and should be proud to wear it. I decided on Wadsworth Smith Art and thankfully it still shows up in searches when you google my full name.

  9. Having a short weird last name like mine ends up being a bit of a blessing as an artist, as there aren’t many other’s out there with the same name as me, and if people enjoy my art, they seem to remember my name, perhaps because it is unusual. When customer’s buy a Sally Chupick original, they can be sure it’s a one and only.

    1. I so love hearing this from you, Sally, which is in keeping with my own experience. Both my first and last names are uncommon, and at times people seem to appreciate the descriptive name Nell Bednarz Fine Arts, which applies to drawings, paintings, assemblage, and fine art, unique jewelry. May God bless you in your work!

    2. Hi Sally –
      I’m in the same boat but with my first name. I’m hoping people will remember me by that instead of by both that AND my boring surname: Jones.

      Maybe one day I’ll be so famous that I’ll be able to just shorten it and be known as Aeon. And then “the artist formerly known as Aeon”… 😀

  10. I use my name Gay P Cox with my website as gpcox.com. I kept the P because some really unfortunate sites come up when you google gay cox.
    However I also have a nonprofit which does installations for spiritual and worship events. The nonprofit is Travelling Tabernacles so we shortened it to travtabs.org for an easily remembered branding name. This also separates inquiries about things for sale and things for the installations.

  11. Penny Benjamin Peterson
    Good article Jason. For all of the reason you listed, I use my full name. Penny Peterson was my married name. It sounded to cute to me and also there are many with that name. Benjamin my maiden name was more unusual so the three names were used. It is indeed long but it made a good presence on the wall. Clients seemed to remember at least one last name. It also sounds more professional.
    Penny Benjamin Peterson

  12. One of the best pieces of marketing advice I received early on wS to drop my studio name in favor of my own name. At the time it was difficult. I was just starting off and rebranding myself was going to cost me hundreds of dollars, which seemed like a lot at the time!

    But looking back, it was a significant shift, not only for my marketing, but also for my sense of who I was (or was to become) as an artist. It was difficult emotionally to stop relying on a catchy name, and put me, myself in the spotlight.

    There’s a point in an artist’s career development where you have to start representing yourself clearly and well; using your name as a brand is a great way of doing that.

  13. I’ve been signing my work with my first and middle initial and last name, all in lower case and run together. However, my website is in my first and last name. Should I start signing my work with my first and last name, which is probably more effective for name recognition?

    1. It should be consistent, either all the way you sign, or all as on the website. It is likely easier to change your signing, although it may be that the middle initial distinguishes you from others who may have the same name.

  14. I agree with all the points you made. For years, as an interior designer, I have gone by T. Symington & Co. Interiors when marketing my business, but am known as Terri Symington, ASID professionally.

    Now that I am focusing on my art, I’ve kept my logo, but it now reads as T. Symington Art and Interiors… my FASO website is under my full name Terri Symington… but I sign my work T. Symington.

    The reason why I chose to market myself as T. Symington is so that it would not be clear whether I was male or female, to eliminate preconceptions… and now, I especially like to sign my paintings that way because I do female figurative work, and again, I like that the viewer, without knowing anything about me, will not make preconceived ideas about me as it relates to my subject… lol, does that make any sense, or just to me?

    1. Hi Terri, I am aware of other artists who don’t use their first name. I have signed my paintings with “Woodward”. Even men often sign with just their last name or first initial. Jack White recommended his wife, Mikki, sign her work with “Senkarik” alone. Her brand became “Senkarik”. I think that was an excellent idea. Of course, people know she’s a female, but having one name on the signature seems like a stronger statement to me.

      1. Lori, I agree. Although my state registered business name is Sharon Crute, Artist, I also sign my paintings with just my last name. In a genre that seems to attract lots of women artists (equine), it felt like signing just my last name differentiated me from the herd!

    2. No, it makes perfect sense and for the exact reason you gave. Preconceptions about the art itself is often made based on gender, and studies show that female artists are paid less than male. I dropped my first name and sign and use only my last name. Unfortunately, Art by Raschella has a feminine ring to it, but it’s still better than Carole Raschella, which, in addition to announcing that I’m female, kind of rolls around the mouth because it has too many “R’s” and too many “L’s” . I own both raschella.com and artbyraschella.com…I suppose I should pick one and stick with it, but at least both go to the same site.

    3. Hi Terri, I agree with leaving the first name off or using an initial. My name, as long as it is would be even longer if I kept Sharon on it and then people may have preconceived ides about what I paint. One of my best moments as an artist was when a gentleman came in to my studio and was asking about a painting of a truck that I had done. He wanted to know who this Wadsworth-Smith guy was. I happily said, that would be me. I also sign my name as Wadsworth Smith as it fits so much better on a painting.

      1. Wadsworth Smith certainly doesn’t sound feminine so I reckon you’ve made a great choice there. It’s not that we may mind being female, it’s just that people often prefer to buy certain types of artwork created by men.

  15. I am a textile artist, specializing in rug weaving. My business name has evolved over the years. At first I just used my first name, Nancy, on my business cards. When I felt I needed something more catchy, I came up with High Fiber Creations. That name was the result of brainstorming with my husband. We eat a fairly healthy diet consisting of lots of fiber, so the name suited. After a short time and some analysis, I changed it to High Fiber Designs because it sounded more sophisticated. I used that name for several years but got tired of explaining what it meant to some people who wondered. At a show in San Francisco a woman came into my booth, looked at my business name and derisively asked me if it had to do with the marijuana industry in Humboldt County, California, where I live. She wondered if I used hemp in my weaving. I do not, but did tell her that hemp is a good fiber, not available to purchase in the U.S. Anyway, after some reflection, I decided to change my business identity to “Nancy Kennedy Designs”. I have all my literature, my booth signs, e-mail address, and web
    site in that name. It has served me much better and does not require explanation. If I should ever change my focus from rug weaving, the name would still work.

  16. Joanie Evarts
    I like what you said. I have used (JEVARTS) when I sign my paintings. Reason being that no one would know if I was a male or female. Not sure if that really makes a difference.

  17. Jason, I get a lot of wisdom from your posts. Thank you! I have branded myself under the name Woodward, which is my maiden name. It took about a decade to transition from using my married name, (Simons) to Woodward.

    My husband and I use the business name “Brilor Images”. Years ago, I registered with my state as a business using that name, and still use it for a few business purposes. I like the idea that you offered about having another name as a subtitle. Perhaps that’s the best use for me. I’ll think about it some more.

  18. We have a bit of a conundrum in our building. We want to be brand our building which is Paneficio Studios but two of the studios have their own name with 2 artists in one and 4 artists in the other. Most of us operate under our own names as artists but we are stumped as how to come up with advertising that has
    Paneficio Studios
    AMP Studio — Valerie Arntzen & Sharon Petty
    Redsokil Studio — Lori Sokoluk, Ray Ophoff, Arwen Hunter and Joan Tayler
    Arnt Arntzen– Arnt Arntzen
    are we trying to stuff too much into a brand or does someone have an idea that does not confuse the patrons?? thanks for any help…Valerie

    1. Partnerships are tricky. Yours is a business, not a marriage. None of you know what the future holds. For one reason or another, health, family demands, relocation … one or more of you may feel the need to bow out. Then you have to replace someone or soldier on with names or initials that aren’t part of your business anymore. Or, do you change it yet again after you’ve worked so hard to establish identity?
      Don’t over think a studio name … come up with something beyond individual names. You want your business to develop its own identity. Something musical to the ear is more important than personal reference.
      One of our premier galleries in south Texas is Whistlepik Gallery … like no other. It also evolved into a secondary name because their first choice was taken.
      Generic maybe, but I’ve always used my real name because I don’t have to repeat myself or spell it. Uniqueness does work for some but I prefer simplicity.

      1. I’ve noticed your name before because it is so close to my own–Judy Knott. I had been signing my pieces J Knott until I saw that you were part of Jason’s group so not I’m signing it Judy Knott. When I created my website, I decided to call it knottjustart.com and that has proved to be a pretty good way to go. I don’t just paint, I make greeting cards and jewelry so it works and people never seem to forget it. So nice to meet you Jackie.

    2. Valerie it sounds like you are trying to cover all bases, which will make it very complex. Why not simply Pacifico Studios – 7 (or is it8?) artists under one roof? Inbthus case it’s the building you’re branding not the individuals. Then individually each artists use their name at Pacifico Studios. Cherrie

  19. When I was a ballerina I changed my name legally to my Hebrew name Paishe Chana. I loved using that. But then I met and married a Chilean who could not pronounce my name. So I changed it back to English and hyphenated his last name on. Americans mostly can’t pronounce it withouseut adding an extra stllable somewhere.

    Now, I use my birthname for art and my legal name for all else.

    I miss using my hebrew name. Is it too late to change again? My family would kill me. Metaphorically.

  20. I am known as “Marcao”, (with a tilde over the second ‘a”) which , once I explain is not “Mark Howell”, but a single first name, kind of sticks in people’s minds as a unique moniker, at least here and anywhere but Brazil.
    I’ve used my name as a business name for years.
    With those six letters and one diacritical mark I can do all sorts of cool things with graphics software for promotional purposes. It has worked well and I’m happy with it, happy to stick with it until they pry the brush out of my cold dead hands.

  21. When I first started creating my web spaces and selling my artwork that a studio name made things seem more professional, but as time went on I saw it as a hinderance. When I try to find artists that I know personally and they sell their art under a studio name I find it more difficult to find them as it is through their name that I identify their creations. While if you sell underneath your name potential buyers can easily search up your name to find the artwork that you create as well as any web presence that you may have. I have ran my art business underneath my name for years now as I want to show others that I am proud of what I create and I am who I am, as my art is a reflection of me and so is my name. I find now that people will recognize my artwork and come up to me and say you must be Carleen, not you must be from such and such studio. That is what I think is a sign of success; when others know your art and you are easily identifiable through it.

  22. It’s a tricky one for some of us. I’d have liked to use just a surname as Lori Woodward does, but REID is far too common. I sign everything RUTH REID and have done so since I began painting. I was very disappointed to find that RuthReid.com was already taken by a famous author so had to settle on RuthReidArt.com

    However, I’m still vaguely unsettled about it. I’d prefer my landscape paintings to be perceived as having been painted by an artist who could be either female or male, especially considering it’s often men who are drawn to them. I wonder how it would go to change it (even at this late stage) to add my maiden name to it and simply sign REID DAWSON.

    The other side of me says that I should continue to sign RUTH REID and thumb my nose at those who prefer to buy landscape artwork which has been created by a man. The $ sign is a bit of a deterrent here.

    What do others think?

      1. Hi Terri, thanks for replying. Unfortunately, there are a number of artists called R REID (which is why I started out by writing the full And less common Ruth in front) or I would happily choose to do R REID. Reid is just such a common name. :-/

      1. Hi Sharon, thanks for taking the time to think about it and to reply.

        Everything of mine is branded Ruth Reid Art, because R Reid as a name and even as an artist’s name is just too common. While I like your suggestion of R Reid Art, it’s unfortunately not distinctive enough and I think adding Art might still make it somewhat feminine, as men don’t tend to do that. If I signed and branded as R.N.Reid it might possibly work as gender-neutral but it’s still boringly common.

        It’s something that I mull over from time to time and this blog brought it to mind again. I’ve possibly left it too late now anyway to change drastically by adding my maiden name and rebranding as REID DAWSON.

  23. I think using your name makes a profound impact on your entire journey as an artist. Using your name contributes to a deep inner confidence in yourself as an artist After awhile, you start thinking of yourself as a professional artist, and that flows over into your work. As a professional artist you start making better choices at your easel, you see your subject in more detail and you present your finished work with more confidence. Your name on your paintings, web presence, gallery store front, and literature all confirm every time YOU see it, that you are a professional.

  24. Hi Jason;
    Another great post. I used my name from the start I guess as I had no real idea what else to put down. I thought if anyone ever wanted to find me how would they if they don’t know my name. I use my maiden name as I started to paint pretty close to when I was getting divorced so it just made sense.

    Thanks as always for the information,

    Darlene Watson

  25. I have a very common name, so I used my studio name as my URL for my website. But I promote myself with my name, not my studio name. Of late, I’ve been thinking I should add my maiden name to further identify me from the countless other Linda Murray’s on the web. What do you think?

  26. Jason – your website is a gold mine for me. I continue to learn so much and appreciate the generous sharing of information from you and from fellow artists. I wish I had some helpful insights to share. Feel guilty when I am always on the receiving end. I’m just now getting my feet wet in the art world. Your posts and those from others provide me with guidance I didn’t know I needed until I read them! I’ve pondered how to sign my work and how to brand myself as well. I sign with my last name only – have deep pride in my family name so each time I sign one of my creations, I feel like I am paying tribute to my family past, present and future. At this point I only have a Facebook page, “Art by Donna Gustina” – hoping to soon have my own website. Again – thank you and all for your helpful insights!

  27. I am an Artist, my name is Terry Horton, my website is: hortonart.wordpress.com – I have three pseudonyms & I have managed to market all of this with great effect. My/our careers are taking off like a rocket & going stratospheric!

  28. Jason, Thank you for all the good articles, you’re continually educating all of us and that’s wonderful. I’ve always just used my full name Carol Rondinelli even though it is somewhat long, I feel that it just sounds like an artist’s name. Thanks again.

  29. I have appleby art as a registered business name ( or studio name) but feel that using my own name for my current work feels more authentic when selling original works alone which is my latest focus. I found that twenty years ago prints sold well from my business name. I believe that originals hold a certain value of being “one of a kind” and unique (the handiwork of the artist) and so am focusing on providing such works under my own name (as you mention). I am using my married name, Appleby, as it is easy to remember, unlike my maiden name, Pochyly, which I feel would be more difficult to market; and it is what I go by and am happy to use. However, my artist brother, Frank, seems to be doing fine using Pochyly. I suppose if the name is not too long or difficult the name can help make the art more memorable as well.
    Your gallery name, Xanadu is easy to remember, as I do not know very many words beginning with X (and “X marks the spot”). Xanadu also carries the impression of beauty which is important in art: good name for a gallery.
    I do believe that an artist’s own name, and the type of work they produce, are their brand.
    I am in a transition in my work and have two websites one with the studio name for my new work and my usual website that shows my full body of work which people are still interested in. I am not sure if this is a good way to go about this transition but any advice in this matter would be appreciated. Thank you.

  30. Here is an analogy for anyone who is not sure about using their name: when a business want to be known for its expertise/as a guru, it uses names: Goldman Sachs (investment banking), McKinsey (consulting), Weil, Gotschal
    & Manges (law), to name a few of the biggest brands in the world in the area of expert services. The names of individuals have come to signify something sought by clients for their expertise. When someone says, who is the artist who did this, it is your name they want: they are responding to your unique point of view or expression, and it is you and your singular vision, not a corporate face, that they want. And of course, if you become famous and your art outlives you, it is your name, not your gallery name that will survive. Additionally, that thing Jason mentioned about someone else taking a name? Companies are very aggressive at protecting trademarks these days, not just in their area, but generally. If your name is Apple, Apple computer cannot send you a cease and desist, but if your name is Smith and you name your gallery Apple Gallery, they can. Speaking form personal experience in another life, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by using your name.

  31. I’ve spent the last few years switching from Dragonfire Studios to my name. I wish I had started everything this way from the beginning. Its been a real pain. Luckily the spelling of my full name is unique. This really seems to help with search engines. Karl Deen Sanders Sculpture LLC. It’s long and a mouthful but there is no confusion as to who I am and what work I have done.

  32. I totally agree with Jason. Use your name as your brand. Your clients will have a direct association with just the “image” of your name. I started several years ago with my name, abbreviated, and with the word “art” after it. General enough but my logo was my signature, which is somewhat illegible. I felt I needed to spell out the name next to the signature. When I changed my entire direction with medium and genre (a good reason not to box yourself in with a specific genre or media initially), I had the choice to continue with the same name. I chose to re-brand instead, to spell out and have my logo be my name, using a legible font. This makes letterhead, forms, business cards, and websites much cleaner and simpler. My email is simply my first name, with the @ sign, and then my name again.com. Clients now associate my full name with simple, clean design, further reinforcing the slogan, Art from Nature, and completing the visual connection easily.

  33. My brand is the signature on my paintings and I think I realized that it allows uniformity in my presentations and advertising.

  34. Apologies for the repetition. I do not have sole ownership or even primary ownership of my name. While I am not the medical people, rock musican, or (and the list goes on) down the google list, I am not the ONLY artist. There happens to be a very good and successful artist with my name about 90 miles away.
    However- I grew up within sight of “Carpenter Hill” across the valley. Carpenter hill is a distinctive glacially molded hill. It is also the location of ALL of my surname forebears were there from the first to set foot there in the 1790s. When it came to my website address, that’s where Carpenter Hill Studios came from. I’ve been trying to be careful about attaching myself to that website. (It’s a mess but it’s my mess)- The sway back “double hump” of the hill is a great graphic profile- easily identifiable.

  35. Hi All,
    I enjoyed hearing all the stories about how people name themselves and Jason’s input.
    My married name is Shoemaker which is a bit of a mouthful. I go by Santana and sign my paintings with a five pointed star after my name, so I decided to call myself Santana Star which is the name on my email and website. We will see where it goes???
    Santana

  36. Hi Jason,
    I have been following your blog for years, but this is my first time posting a response.
    I registered my business name as Lani Emanuel Fine Art for tax purposes, studio signage, etc., but sign my artwork Lani Emanuel. My maiden name is Skeen, but as I began my painting career while still married, rather than having to resign 15 years worth of art, I just kept it. Also, I seem to be the only Lani Emanuel using the internet.

  37. I started making fused glass art over 20 years ago when I didn’t know much about branding. So, I chose Vitreous Humor Art Glass for my business. While I have sometimes regretted not using my name (and vitreous can be hard to spell for some people), I have tried to talk about the name and push my “brand”. I even use a small fused glass eye as a signature. When people walk around our local gallery, they ask about it, which is a great starting point for a conversation about my art.

  38. Hi Jason,
    Well said, and I was dilemma for a long time about this real name issue. This article helped to clear that question for me. Here, very few know me by my real name or even want to call by my first name. Mostly, “Sue”became my nick name as it was easier to call & remember. I do know, what I want. But have to figure it out slowly . Thank you.

  39. Hi Jason,
    Your comment “Art is one of the last things a human being can buy that hasn’t been engineered by a marketing committee and mass-produced in a factory. ” is so totally affirming. Thank you.

  40. I’m sticking by the 38 years of my name as a brand, but having Barny as a last name has been interesting for search results now that search engines have gotten “smarter.” Google often asks people if they’d like to see a man in a strange purple dinosaur suit, for some reason…
    If someone is just starting out in the art business and their name is common, shared by a celebrity, or commonly redirected, I think it may be worth looking at a unique moniker, as the internet is used by interested collectors more and more often.

  41. Hi Jason,
    I began as an artist in my teens. I signed my work first-Robin Capecci-which evolved into Capecci. When I married in the late 70,s, I gave up my maiden name for my husband’s name. That’s what we did back then. I used the married last name through those years but it was very unsettling. Not who I really was. So when I divorced I quickly took back my maiden name which I love. When I remarried, I asked my current husband of 20 years if he minded if I hyphenated our last names together. That way I didn’t feel as if I was losing my identity. So now I use my full married name for everything legal, vehicles, mortgage, etc. But I use Capecci for everything art. Then about 8 years ago I wanted to start my art business and set out to choose a name. I am very happy about my Italian heritage and do quite a few Italian scenes and landscapes so I chose ‘Studio di Capecci’. I add to it Robin Capecci- Artist when applicable. I am now focusing on still life. But no matter what subject I paint or medium I use, it’s all me. And all of it, no matter what, comes from my studio. The sound of it, the looks of it, are me. I still feel very satisfied with my selection.
    Thank you, Jason, for all of your shared insights.
    I’ve learned much!
    Robin Capecci

  42. My brand is my married name of the past 50 years. It’s my business name, is on my e-stationary, cards and website. However I sign my work with my three initials, integrated graphically and framed in a cartouche. This is simple, unique and easily recognized. My signature didn’t start out that way, it was driven by my medium. I work in soft pastel, using scumbled layers of color and leaving a lot of texture. I originally just used my married name to sign my art. It was a struggle, as pastel pencils carved a channel into the surface of the painting and didn’t show up very well. When I started encountering other people on the internet with the same name, I added my maiden name as a middle initial. This made the struggle to avoid a messy-looking signature even worse. Finally I experimented with the initials, tucking the middle B into a frame made by the L and K, and ultimately adding the cartouche. I keep marks neat and crisp by using freshly broken edges of slender hard pastels. It’s much easier to do a clean job with fewer lines, and I am happy with the result. People are starting to recognize it as my signature. Some similar graphic treatment of initials might be a help to artists who struggle with long names, or hard-to-pronounce ones.

  43. My problem is I have a very common name. Even though my first name is spelled uniquely, when I Google LeAnn Barker or I.. Barker many similar names come up. I feel I would get lost in the shuffle.

  44. FOR WOMEN ONLY – the name thing has consequences. What if you get married? I did just that, and faced the conundrum of rebranding my art life as well as my personal life. That’s one reason I am still Casey Cheuvront, and not Casey Bergquist. I suppose I could keep the art life under one and the rest under another but sheesh…. how would people find me then, or know I was an artist, if they knew me under my other name? A conundrum for sure. Which I’ve solved by ….leaving well enough alone.

  45. I too think using your name is the way to go. Unfortunately, my name just isn’t, well.. Catherine Galayda Trezek. Galayda being my maiden name. Like Casey mentioned, if I don’t use my maiden name, I lose much of my historical identity. If I just use Catherine Trezek, there are other people on the internet with that name. I don’t have a middle name. I like Catherine itself, but it’s very common. Although I was able to catch Catherines Studio Art for my Etsy site name. But in a search, there is another catherinesstudio. I don’t really care for the sound of Galayda nor Trezek. What to do.

  46. Karen is a fairly common name. I came up with a name using my middle initial – KJ Lyons Design. It’s worked, well, so far…….

  47. I have two businesses, one as artist and one for my print business making high end giclee prints for artists and others. I named my print business Perfect Art Prints because I felt that expresses the focus and quality of the work I do for others. For my artist site I am using my given name which has brought with it some complications. There is another Stan Bowman who will come up if one Googles this name by itself, he is the vice president and general manager of a major national US hockey team. Sometimes I will get emails from irate fans who want to know why I let some player go, etc. It is somewhat amusing but also not really appreciated.
    The other thing I discovered is that when I do a Google search for Stan Bowman the first several pages of listings are for the other Stan Bowman. Moreover I find there are about 50 others with my same name just in the US alone. I have thought of using another name for my artist business but then so many people know me by name locally that it could become confusing.
    Bottom line is that it can be helpful to Google your name or any name you might choose for your art business before you actually adopt it and use it on your web site, business cards, stationary, advertising, etc. And having a unique and easily remembered name that is not used by others really helps in branding in my opinion.

  48. quite interesting reading through your write up on how your came about your gallery name but i am a little curious about name and I want to ask What is the meaning “Xanadu” kindly interpret with detail

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