Aliases and Pen Names in Art?

Dashboard Forums Weekly Member Message Aliases and Pen Names in Art?

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    Lucille Kreps

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve got a question for this weeks podcast. I have an unusual situation with my name – in that I only have a first name and no last name. My government name is literally one name. In situations where I’m interacting with someone face to face it doesn’t seem to hurt me since they can tell that I’m not playing a prank on them and they can view my ID but in situations where I’ve filled out paperwork and there’s no face interaction or I’m trying to do something over the internet it’s been a problem over the years and I’ve taken to just using an alias in a lot of situations. If I am ever able to get enough satisfactory work together to try to get a gallery show and make a website for my art I am wondering if it would be considered appropriate to use a pen name? Is this something that is somewhat customary in the art world? Do people do it sometimes?

    My pen name wouldn’t be something fantastical like ‘Unicorn Starprincess Monopants the Fourth’ – it would be something very practical sounding that encompassed both a first and last name and gives me a better chance of being considered. (with no last name a lot of times people in administrative offices literally just throw your paperwork out! and I cant imagine galleries will like it much either) I’m far off from having to worry about this (if ever) but I wanted to get it sorted now so that as I progress I can be consistent moving forward and have a name that Im happy to sign my work with and that I can present to others.

    A second issue regarding my name is that would be inclined to choose a pen name that does not match the gender I was assigned at birth since I am trans. Do you think that this will present practical issues to advancing in the art world if the name does not match the face that they see later on? I’m mainly interested in doing the art I want to do and then if it sells, then great – and if not, then at least I made my dreams a reality on the canvas. I wont be pursuing a career in illustration as my health would never allow for it but I would like to give myself the best chance I can moving forward with anything that I want to do.

    I know that was a read – any advice would be appreciated!

    – Lucille


    Hi Lucille,

    Thank you for your question. I did my best to offers some ideas towards the end of the podcast.

    Hope all is well.


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