Should You Change your Name for the Sake of Art?

Todd McPhetridgeHave you ever considered changing your name to sell your art? Guest blogger Todd McPhetridge shares his thoughts and his own personal experience in taking this major step.

 

 

Maybe your name has more consonants than words from the U.S. Spelling Bee. Or let’s say you have a thriving career, and don’t want professional contacts to know how much time you spend on your passion. Perhaps your name is John Doe. Whatever the reason, a lot of emerging artists consider working under a pseudonym. Been there and done that, boy was it fun… not. Here’s the real scoop on what to think about before using a snazzier name for your art.

My given name is Todd McPhetridge. A little bit lengthy, and surprisingly easy to mispronounce (the ‘Ph’ makes a “Feh” sound, by the way…as in MC FEH TRIDGE). I’ve been called every name in the book, from Mctheridge to Muppetridge and everything in between. As an online marketing consultant, I know that in the web-O-sphere, keeping it short and sweet is often the ideal. Pretty sure nobody got rich off www.supercalifragilistic.com.

When I wanted to market my art, I thought it made a lot of sense to give myself a pseudonym for that work. My art needed a simpler name. Easier to find online…you know something more “marketable” I approached constructing my pseudonym like some major brands test market their new consumer product. Ahem…meet Todd Ridge. Snazzy huh?

Todd Ridge is an awesome artist name; way simple to spell, and pretty dang easy to remember. Two syllables total. I thought in some way the name Todd Ridge evoked my style. Rustic landscapes and rural scenery are a few of my favorite themes, you know…White Collar Redneck Art. Todd Ridge sounds like that, right?

Even better, my consulting work could be kept apart from my artistic online profile. I was concerned that clients could:

  • Decide my focus was divided;
  • Change my opinion of them when they didn’t like my art.

So I gave birth to Todd Ridge online. Todd Ridge had his own Facebook account, Twitter profile, LinkedIn account, blog, webpage – you name it. ToddRidgewas making friends and sharing art all over the place. Heck my art publisher was even publishing art under my new found awesomeness called Todd Ridge.

But there lies the problem. Maintaining one persona online is time consuming enough. But keeping up with two? My art and consulting work were being thrown out the window because updating two separate people online was a job. To me, I was losing time I would rather dedicate to my craft.

So I put the brakes on and picked up my brand from the wreckage and moved forward with Todd McPhetridge. It wasn’t an easy choice, but the right one for me. I don’t have to spend a lot of time keeping up with all of those accounts. My art publisher was super cool about changing up my name moving forward. Sure people will still butcher my last name, but that’s ok. I’m happy being me even if it means getting called muppetridge from time to time.

 

Todd McPhetridge  is a Landscape Photographer signed by Winn Devon. He also owns Rustic Ventures, a rustic home décor company. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this guest post, Todd. Thought provoking!

    Although I totally understand why you changed your name and then changed it back, I think there are circumstances where it might be better changed. Artist Larry Klukaszewski (featured here http://bit.ly/oliLBF) goes by the name “Larry Klu” due to the general impossibility of spelling his name, and I find that totally understandable.

    My own name is frequently misspelled, but that’s not the reason I don’t use it as my URL. I chose “ArtsyShark” because I liked the word picture it creates, and also because there is an American painter named Carolyn Edlund out there, and I’m sure it would become quite confusing. In fact, I have already received congratulations on awards that she has received, but had to admit we are not one and the same person. I’m not sure how she feels about sharing a name, but I’m happy that she has http://www.CarolynEdlund.com.

    • Todd McPhetridge says:

      I wrestled with it for a while before I finally made up my mind. I completely understand why some people decide to use a different name. It was just too much for me to keep up with. Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story! I hope it helps someone facing the same decision.

  2. I finally searched for some help on this after years and years of trying to figure out names. I have done different types of art, and all have attracted different audiences, it became to where I was losing many customers due to my more risky art compared to my mild art, or I could just say my gallery professional profile vs my wild personality profile. It’s been like a bi polar experience, but as an artist I have to be ME and do it all !! So I changed my names a few times, confusing people, and lost hundreds of fans. Finally I decided to keep my main name, and have 3 department persona names… so I now have 3 different brand names, doing 3 different types of art, but they are all linked together under main name so when I do shows I can show them all together, or do specialized shows under one of the 3 names. I’m still trying to see if this will work out and be accepted by people, but I figure this is such a new time, people should be able to handle it. I feel the future is moving more towards accepting this anyways, with people living longer and technology, virtual personas as a parts of our personality, as long as it’s connected to the main artist, he or she could branch off and act another profile like a movie star acting out a part in a film.

    Am I just absolutely nutts crazy?? I may never be taken seriously, but I will have done my hearts desire as an artist. Who knows…

    • Thanks so much for sharing your viewpoints. I’m struggling right now with decisions on how to deal with separate areas of my art career so that they are not confused into a jumble of audiences (licensing v retail, etc.) and this article and responses are helpful. Thank you!

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