July 21, 2008 | Alyson Stanfield

Use Your Name for Your Art Business

Art history is a history if individual artists, not of company names. Since my master’s degree is in art history, I naturally want you to use your name when promoting your art. Using a company name puts you in league with all of the companies out there who are manufacturing and promoting unremarkable products. You’re different. Art is different. Art is not a mass-produced product. It’s remarkable!

Using your name as your business name tells the world that your art is different from the mass-produced stuff they can pick up at Target or Pier One. It says “This is made by hand, and not just any hand, but the hand of an artist.” While it may seem safer to hide behind a business name, ask yourself what playing it safe has ever done for anyone. Seriously. You have to take risks and put yourself out there when you want an art career–when you want to be known.

If you think your name is too common, you have a couple of options. You can change it (hey, it’s been done!) or you can embrace it and distinguish it somehow. Add your middle name, your middle initial, or your maiden name. The big question to answer is: How do you want to go down in the history books? As Alyson Stanfield? Alyson B. Stanfield? A.B. Stanfield? A. Stanfield? The choice is yours! But you have to pick one and stick with it. You will use this name whenever you create a promotional piece, be it your Web site, newsletter, exhibit label, press release, business card, or letterhead.

– – > And it should be prominent on every single page of your Web site, including any enlarged photo pages. Double check this on your Web site and blog right after you read this.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to sign your name this way. A signature is just a mark. You can sign your art with whatever feels natural. For example, I have signed my name “AB Stanfield” since I was a teenager. “Alyson Stanfield” was just too long to write out and the y in my first name seemed to interrupt the flow of writing it out. So, AB Stanfield it is. Signing my full name seems unnatural. But, I chose “Alyson B. Stanfield” as my professional name. I didn’t fear there would ever be too many Alyson Stanfields around, but I’m kind of attached to my middle name, so I always wanted the B in there. And I’m glad I’ve used it! I recently found someone else with my name–spelled the exact same way–on Facebook. A teenager!

If you’re reading this and bumming out because you aren’t using your name, stay tuned. Next week I promise to give you some parameters for using a business name.


Art history is a history of individuals, not of company names.

You are your art. Your art doesn’t exist without the individual who made it by hand.

DO THIS———-~>
Use your name for your art business. Decide how you want to go down in the history books and stick with it.
Also, insist that others identify you as you would like. There’s an interesting post about this on the blog. It’s an older post, so comments are closed, but you might pick up some good tips on how to ensure others are also using your professional name.

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

9 comments add a comment
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  • Amy Pryor

    I believe in this 100%. I was so disappointed when I found out amypryor.com was taken, and by an artist, of all things. I’ve had to add Fine Art to everything, but i find that to be a positive. I don’t need to explain my brand since it includes Fine Art. No one would know what I do as Amy Pryor, but Amy Pryor Fine Art completes it. Nice blog. Your book was one of the first I bought when I decided to make art my business.

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

  • Millie P. Wollney

    This has to be the MOST helpful and inspiring piece of advice I’ve found since I started my research on “Business Names”. Thank You very much!

  • Thanks for this article. I actually registered my name as my business name a few years ago and I had been wondering if that was a smart move or not. I actually almost changed my business name about an hour ago. Thanks for the reassurance that I don’t need to do that. :)

  • I pretty much sure there is no other Nina Pap de Pesteny out there, but I still opted for an artist name “Karisma”… because it reflects the vibration of what I do. It is like a condensed mission, a motto of a kind. Thank you Alyson for all the work you are doing for us, artists. I just purchased your book and I am loving it!

  • Brandi Ball

    My husband is an artist and wants to start a website and facebook page etc. His name is Jason Ball. There is already a Jason Ball Art on facebook, instagram, etc. We have contemplated using his middle initial but he has already signed all of his art “Jason Ball” . jasonball.com and jasonballart.com are already taken. What do you suggest?

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