Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of creative people adopt aliases.

I can see the appeal of using an alias, especially if you’re a young artist. It can offer a certain level of anonymity when starting out. That said, I personally think this is a really bad idea. You should always just keep things simple and use your own name. Here’s why:

You want your work to be associated with you.
Your name is your brand. As you develop as an artist, you start to develop your own style. The way you draw a line, or make a brush mark, is like a fingerprint. You want people to associate your art with your name, not with an alias you thought was cool when you were nineteen.

It’s easier to develop a following.
The longer you work in the field, the more likely it is that people will begin to recognize your work. You’ll build a fan base, which is the best possible thing for you as an artist! It’s these fans that’ll support you and buy your work, whether it’s paintings, comics, whatever.  Don’t complicate your interaction with fans by using a fake name. It’s easier to introduce yourself to people when you use your real name.

You may be stuck with an alias, even after you outgrow it.
Changing your working alias may be confusing for fans and make it that much harder for people to find you.

It’s easier to meet people and clients.
When you’re out at conventions, seminars, or even the grocery store (you never know where you might run into a potential client), you’ll introduce yourself as…well, yourself.  Not as your alias.  It’s much more likely that when remembering you or looking you up, the potential client will look you up by your name.

Keeping and using your own name will help your career tremendously. As soon as you decide you want to be an artist, drop everything and do these three things.

  • Buy a URL using your real name, preferably a dot com.  Keep it simple – www.yourname.com.
  • Set up an e-mail address that’s simple and includes your name – yourname@yourwebsite.com.  Set up your email through your own website so it’s easy for clients or art directors to track you down and recall your e-mail.
  • Stop using dopey handles when you interact with your peers in forums on in online communities. You guessed it: Switch over to ones that include your real name.

All of this will allow you to start being associated with your work and building lasting relationships. You just can’t go wrong using your own name from the start and avoiding an alias entirely!

Thanks for reading, folks. Stay tuned for the next Professional Practices.

JM