What’s in a name? Well quite a lot actually. It’s one of those sticky subjects and no one quite knows the best course of action. What I’m specifically referring to are illustrators’ names. Are you an individual, are you a studio, are you a brand or are you using a persona? It’s a tough thing to decide, but for the sake of professionalism you need to make a decision and stick with it. For most people it’s a non-issue, they have their name and that is that. But illustrators as a group can be an insecure, reclusive bunch, so having a persona that can help you land commissions and be the face of your business can actually be a really good thing. You just have to make sure you do it right!
What I see quite a lot is talented folk coming up with a brilliant name for their studio, for example, but then hiding behind it like it’s a shield… protecting themselves from the evil overlords. The problem then arises that the client doesn’t know what to call the illustrator. This doesn’t hinder communication, but it does make it slightly uncomfortable. For example if the illustration outfit is called ‘Eye of the Beholder’, and that’s how the illustrator signs their emails and refers to themselves in their biography, what does the client call them? Eye, EOTB, Mr/Mrs Beholder… Does it really do that much harm to mention your name is Matt or Susan? You can always put ‘Matt (aka Eye of the Beholder)’. I know some people like to believe they’re magical creatures of some description, but generally people like dealing with people.
The thing is, your working name doesn’t actually need to be your real name, as long as the client knows who to pay at the end of a project. You can call yourself whatever you want. It’s just that people and clients in general need to be able to relate to it in some manner or you’re making things awkward before you even get started. Even faceless corporations have realised they do actually need to have a face if they want to connect with their customers.
Artwork by Sara Wilson (aka Fly Okay).