How to Pick an Artist Account Name for Instagram

Are you thinking about starting an Instagram account just for your art, but have no idea what to name it? Obviously, names are important. Your name sends a message about your art and who you are as an artist. You want to present yourself as a professional, but you can still have fun with it.

Nobody can tell you exactly what your name should be. You have to choose what feels authentic to you, but I’ve put together a list of things to consider while brainstorming. As you go through this post, have a pen and piece of paper nearby and start jotting down key words that come to mind that could possibly become part of your new Instagram account name.

Basic Name Anatomy

Before getting started, people will often choose a few different name structures for their account:

  • Artist’s name
  • Artist’s name with creative discipline attached (art, drawing, photography, etc.)
  • Artist’s nickname or pseudonym
  • Art related brand name (doesn’t include artist’s name)
  • General creative brand name (doesn’t have to be art related)

When I first started my online presence in 2014, I choose the last option because it was the right fit for my creative identity. Now, let’s see what works for you:

1. Consider your personality.

You are unique. Even if you don’t believe it, you have to start telling yourself that you have something different to offer your audience. And you can include a little hint of this uniqueness in your name. Your name can set you apart from others by capturing your personality.

Think about who you are as a person. Are you fun, carefree, or spunky? Are you serious, dark, laid back, or funny? What parts of your personality come through your art? How do you interact with people in person? What’s your communication style?

It might even be helpful to talk to a friend and have them describe you.

2. Consider your art style.

What kind of art do you make? Are you a painter, fluid artist, illustrator, graphic designer, etc.? What subject matter do you focus on? Nature, portraits, animals, abstract? Or do you create anything and everything under the art umbrella?

You can use words like “art”, “drawing”, and “illustration” in your name to explain what you make. Or, you can use your subject matter.

3. Consider the area of the art world you want to enter.

All artists do not operate in the same areas of the art world. There are many places to find success with art like in galleries, museums, craft fairs, art fairs, flea markets, digital platforms, and more. Your name may communicate which area you fit into.

If you are going for a gallery/museum career path, your real name is probably most appropriate. It’s clean and professional. If you are having fun in more casual spaces, you can get more creative with your name.

4. Your real name is perfectly appropriate.

Artist’s real names are often their brand names. If you feel a close connection to your name, then go ahead and use that as your social media username.

If your name is taken, consider using a period between names, or add a creative discipline like art, illustrations, design, paintings, drawings, doodles, etc..

Ex: “firstlast.art”, “firstlastdesign”, “first.last”, “firstlast”

5. Consider a name with a deeper meaning.

You don’t have to have your real name. You don’t have to include anything involving art. You can get creative and make people think about the meaning a little more.

You can look into old mythologies, science, astrology, and more. Think of something that connects to you and your work, but requires a little more thought to understand. Or even names that involve a childhood nickname, or inside jokes and stories. Think about your backstory. (This is what I focused on when I chose @messyeverafter.)

6. Make it easy to say out loud.

This is a personal rule of mine while I’m out at events or chatting with people about what I do. How would your name sound if you ran out of all of your business cards and just had to say your social usernames out loud to customers?

If you have a bunch of symbols or numbers, things can get a little long.

Ex: “My Insta is jenny dot rainbow underscore three five dot art”

Or: “My Insta is jenny rainbow art”

It’s a simple thing, but it helps avoid awkward “wait, where is the underscore?” types of conversations.

7. Check for similar accounts.

Take advantage of the Instagram search bar and start looking up the names you’ve thought of. If a name you thought of is taken by another artist, brainstorm other names. I do not recommend just adding underscores or periods to a name that is taken to make it “unique” unless it is your actual legal name.

This will help you avoid any complaints from fellow creators in the future. I can speak from experience (considering there are currently 15 accounts on Instagram that play off @messyeverafter), it’s not pleasant to have your name taken. Don’t fall in love with a name that someone else has trademark rights to if you plan on using your account for a business.

8. Check all social media platforms.

Once you find a good name, you’re going to want to plan for the future. Check Twitter, YouTube, Facebook pages, Tumblr, Reddit, TikTok, and .com domain names. Even consider searching Trademark databases and your state’s registered business names.

You’re building a presence that will last for years, so make sure you can snatch up the same name across all the platforms you can to make it easier for followers to find you no matter where they look.

Example Accounts:

Obviously, these names are taken, but check out how the account names interact with the artist’s real name, art style, and branding. And give them some love 😉

Remember: You have a little wiggle room for change if you realize you don’t like your chosen name.

Whatever name you decide on today doesn’t have to be your name forever. If you have no idea who you are as an artist right now, you can change your name once you figure it out. I encourage you not to change your name often, and not to change your name once your following starts to grow, but you can re-brand yourself if you really feel you need to.

I just can’t help but always think of Puff Daddy changing to P. Diddy as a good example of what not to do. Once you establish your branding and have enough people who know your name, it’s really hard to break away from that first name. But, with an Instagram account, you have a lot of wiggle room until about 5,000 followers. Use that time to really figure out who you are as an artist.

***

I hope this post was helpful, but if you are looking for a little extra support, feel free to check out my consulting services. I offer an Instagram assessment to help artists and creatives get a jump start on growing their following.

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you!

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks.

Further Reading:

Why Your Artwork Being Copied is a Good Thing

Dealing with copycats comes with the territory of being an artist…

And I don’t believe it’s a bad thing.

You’ve spent days, months, years, and even decades honing your craft. Experimenting with materials. Finding your personal style. Making a name for yourself as an artist. Then one day, an artist comes along and decides to take your creation and copy it. They see everything you’ve done, copy it, possibly bastardize it, and leave you feeling used and frustrated.

It happens to all of us, but I don’t think copycats are the worst thing in the world. In fact, I look at copycats as a good thing.

Copying is what we do as humans.

We are born to copy others until we figure out our own identity. Language, clothes, traditions, holidays, mannerisms, body language, slang, jewelry, music, books, etc.. We copy and then we build on what we’ve copied with more copied material until we figure out what feels right for us.

When you scroll through Instagram and see your favorite celebrity styled in a way that’d make you look awesome, the urge to recreate the ensemble is the same urge that artists have when they copy your work. You copy. I copy. We all copy.

When one influential creator introduces something new to the public, that design concept trickles down and gets manipulated over and over again. Other artists will build off of it. They will cut things out. Rearrange components. Introduce new changes.

This scene from The Devil Wears Prada keeps popping in my head…

Gah, I love you, Meryl.

A lot of what we do as creators is built off of the artists before us. Techniques, supplies, and styles. It all gets copied and reworked.

To fight the urge to copy is a losing battle, and to control how people interact with your art is impossible. If you show somebody your art, it’s going to inspire something inside of them.

What about copyright and all that?

It’s reasonable to want to protect your art. I mean, it’s your baby, right? I know that feeling. There are legal actions you can take against copycats. If you want to concern yourself with those things, go ahead, but I personally think it ruins the fluidity of the art world.

If you want to truly protect your artwork from ever being copied, the only way is to never let anyone see it. Never. Period. Keep it locked up. Take no photographs. Keep it off the internet. Don’t display at local events or galleries. Don’t show your art to anyone.

Here is the thing about art: It’s like a virus. When you come into contact with art of any kind, it does something to you. It makes a home inside of you and compels you to share it with others. It compels you to make creations of your own. Then others become infected by your art and the propagation of creative ideas continues.

Your art will get copied if you share it. That’s how you know it’s working.

Be the voice of a new genre.

How do you think new art genres are formed? There was one guy who was like “I’m going to create the impression of a landscape…” and then so many other people copied the style that it became its own genre. Impressionism.

Same with Pop Art, Expressionism, Surrealism, and so on. One artist does things a little differently and their work inspires a whole new group of people.  It’s kind of awesome.

Which is why I think you should WANT your art to get copied.

Yes, it can be frustrating to have someone mimic the work you do. Whether it’s an exact replica or just work inspired by your creations. Every artist has this territorial gut reaction when they first see their work copied. It can be painful, annoying, or devastating, but rarely do we feel something positive when we see our work copied, because we feel threatened.

But, I think we should be excited about seeing copies of our work.

When someone copies your work it can mean quite a few good things:
  • You are influential enough to inspire another creator (High five!!)
  • Your art is being exposed to a wider audience. (Double high five!)
  • Your work is pretty cool. (Woooo!)
  • That artist has no idea what their own style is yet and your art is helping them discover it.
  • That artist looks up to you.

In my experience, the majority of copycats out there do not have malicious intent. They don’t mean to step on your toes. They don’t mean to be your competition or take your business. A copycat is not a threat for the most part. Those copycats are actually your biggest cheerleaders and can help you grow your brand.

Have you ever witnessed an artist (or you may have done this yourself) recreate the art of a more well known artist and then post it on social media saying something like “This was inspired by @artist”? Because I have seen this over and over again and it’s beautiful!

If you encourage people who have created art inspired by yours to share it on social media and tag you, it will only be good for you. (I do this with #messyeverafter.) The more people who see your name, the better. Build a community around your art and your brand.

Yes, you will have copycats recreate your work and post it without credit, but just think back to the days where you were learning how to draw and you went running up to a friend and showed them your version of your favorite piece of art. It’s pretty much the same thing.

When Copycats make us lose our sh*t.

This last year, I have seen a few situations of copying/suspected copying turn into incredibly stressful confrontations. If someone copies your work there is one thing you most definitely need to do: Give yourself time to work through your emotions before confronting the copycat and/or putting anything on a public forum.

If you are reacting with your emotions, it’s quite likely it will turn into a sh*ts show real quick. Sleep on it. Talk to a close friend or another artist. Let the emotions pass. You don’t need to react in all situations.

When non-professional artists (novices, beginners, hobbyists, etc.) copy a professional artists work, it’s usually safe to assume this is in the pursuit of their own personal style or just for having fun. It’s almost definitely not a threat to the artist being copied. This is the type of copying that has been most common for me and I actually encourage my followers to do this. It’s likely not going to harm your business or your brand at all unless you fly off the handle and publicly shame them (and that’s on you).

If the copycat is a professional artist and they don’t credit it, or they choose to sell the work, this is where things get frustrating. It still might not be worth your time though. I always think about these things: Are they making direct copies or are they interpreting it with their own style? Does the artist have a large following? Do they appear to copy others too? Do they have their own distinct style? Is this going to affect my business? Am I just feeling threatened? Most of the time, after I run through these questions, I deem it’s not worth my time to do anything more than show a picture of the copied work to my other half or artist friends, vent, and move on.

If a well know artist copies your work and you aren’t well known, they take credit for it, and probably make money off it then by all means confront the sh*t out of that situation. Never take advantage of the little guys. It’s not cool. They should know better.

If a business or corporation rips off your work and sells it, this is where you have every right to put your sassy pants on and make a lot of noise. There is no excuse for this, and this is where I feel copyright laws are appropriate. This is not done in the spirit of creativity, but only with greed and they should be punished and shamed.

Since I’ve established copying isn’t always bad, I should go over some rules.

We all copy, but it’s important to be a courteous copycat. Here’s how:

  • If you are making nearly identical copies, don’t claim the art as your own and make sure to give credit to the original creator. (Depending on the artist, you may need to ask permission to display your recreation.)
  • Copy in the pursuit of developing your own art style and not with the intent to profit off of another artist’s ideas. It takes a really long time to develop an art business. Don’t try to take shortcuts at the expense of another artist.
  • Understand that some artists are more protective of their work than others. I openly tell people to try out my style and share it on social media, but you will encounter the exact opposite artists out there. Respect their wishes.
  • Keep your copies for yourself. Don’t try to sell the work that you copied in a business setting. Sure, selling to friends and family is more acceptable, but the moment you go to an art fair to sell copied work is the moment you start to lose integrity as an artist.

***

When I see my work get copied, I celebrate, and I think you should too. Being an artist is a lifelong journey and the more you create, the more your art will evolve and inspire others. An artist copying your work can help you build your brand and grow your audience if you react in a positive manner.

Encourage community interaction. Encourage other creators to explore their artistic identities through your techniques.

But, if you really want to prevent your art from inspiring people, don’t share it with anyone.

At least, that’s how I look at it.

As always, leave your questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Also, please subscribe to my email list if you never want to miss a blog post, and consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon to support the creation of these posts.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks.

Further Reading:

How to Create More Content for Social Media

You can grow your audience with loads of quality content.

(And no. You don’t just have to create more art.)

Nearly every time I do an Instagram assessment with one of my consulting clients, I hear a little gasp of disbelief when I get to the part of the session where I say “You need to post 1 to 3 times a day, 7 days a week.” That’s a big ask, and at first it’s assumed that I’m saying that you need to have 1 to 3 different pieces of art to post a day. Don’t panic.

Posting 1 to 3 different photos or videos a day on Instagram does not mean you need to create a ridiculous amount of art. It means you need to get creative with your content. In this post, I will give you a plethora of ideas to expand your content and get ready to up your Instagram game. Instagram is my main focus here, but you can easily post the same content on your other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more.

Why do you need to post so much?

The most common questions I get on this topic is “Won’t people get tired of my work?” and “Doesn’t this seem spammy?”

No and no. Social media moves quickly, attention spans are short, and people are following you because they like what you do. When you are an artist operating online, you are providing a service when you post. When a follower finds enjoyment in looking at your work or reading what you have to say, they will happily consume 1-3 post from you a day. Happily. If someone gets tired of you, then they probably aren’t your target audience (or you’re asking too much of your audience–I’ll write another post on this in the future).

You are not being spammy by posting up to 3 times a day on Instagram. You need to constantly show up and remind your audience that you exist online. Make it easy for them to interact with you by showing up in their feeds every day.

Here’s how.

How to Create More Content for Social Media:

1. Post the same piece of art multiple times.

It’s okay to reuse pieces of art in your profile. It doesn’t have to just show up once. In fact I encourage you to post a piece multiple times to help create a cohesive color scheme throughout your social accounts. The important thing to do is to photograph the art differently and have a variety of photo compositions.

Here are six photos that are currently on my account all using the same piece of art:

And I could easily have created more posts with the same piece of art by recording time lapse and real time process videos. See how I changed the photos by using different angles and including myself in the shot? It’s all the same piece of art, but each photo has a different feel.

  • As a general rule, limit yourself to posting the same piece of art no more than 3 times in the first 9 photos of your profile.
  • If the photos are similar, stagger them with different photos between so you give the appearance of more variety.

2. Include photos of yourself with your art.

All of your posts should have a purpose, and posting photos of you with your art helps to tell your story, connect with your audience, and build trust.

Staging photos of yourself working on your art, moving around in your studio, casually sitting in front of finished pieces, and more will give you great content to fill your social media accounts without posting ‘selfies’. (Don’t just post a selfie! Your art needs to be involved in the photo.)

Tip: Use the timer feature on your cell phone, voice activated pictures, or DSLR camera with remote or timer to capture more natural looking photos of you with your art. This is personally what I do for all of my photos of myself (including the ones pictured above).

You can use any smartphone or camera to take photos for social media as long as your lighting is good and the resolution is decent.

Here are a few of the products I use for staging photos: (*These are Amazon affiliate links to products that I currently use and love. If you make a purchase, I earn a commission.)

You can also ask someone to snap a few pictures of you if it’s convenient, but I spend most of my day alone and prefer not to have anyone witness the variety of expressions I make in front of the camera. (Because, Hi, I’m awkward!)

3. Use a variety of photo compositions.

I have already shown you a few examples above for creating a variety of compositions with your art and yourself, but there are more options. Using a variety of photo compositions will help open up your profile and keep each post looking interesting. I always encourage artists to avoid posting the same photo composition over and over again.

  • Stage your art with other complimentary pieces.
  • Do close up shots of details.
  • Photograph straight on shots.
  • Stage your art with home décor and plants.
  • Take angled/dynamic photos to create depth.
  • Take photos of your art in different scenarios like holding the art outside, or even staging your art with photo staging apps.
  • Include your hand or parts of your body in the photo to create perspective and a human connection.
  • Show your art in action: photo of you hanging the piece on the wall, or moving a canvas around in your studio.

4. Reuse the same exact photos/videos.

Yup. You can use the same photos or videos you have posted before on your profile. I don’t recommend doing this often, but it can work in a pinch.

  • Archive the older appearance of the photos in case someone decides to scroll through your profile so it doesn’t look like you are recycling the same photos.
  • When I recycle old photos or videos, I wait about 3-4 months. You’ll have a new batch of followers by then and enough time will have passed where your current followers may have forgotten about that piece/photo.

5. You can photograph older works and post them now in new staged compositions.

You don’t have to just post new work. It’s a good practice to bring old pieces back to your audience’s attention. Especially if the piece is still for sale.

Every few weeks, I do a mini photo shoot in my studio. I take out pieces I haven’t seen in a while and stage new photos. I also use this as a chance to create more photos of me with my art. Always remember that the same piece can show up multiple times in your social profiles as long as there is enough variety in the photos or time between the new post and the last appearance.

6. Record the process of your work.

I can’t say this enough: creating and posting videos of your art on social media has more of an impact on your audience growth than photos typically will. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how often I post videos. Not only do videos give me more content to post, but they get shared more easily.

Here are the supplies I currently use to record my process videos:

7. Capture your studio space, supplies, and artist lifestyle.

Selling your art often means selling your story and your life as an artist first. Make your audience feel like they can step into your studio space. Bring your viewers into your life with your photos.

  • Tell a story through videos: @lindstrom.emma
  • Show a view of your studio and supplies while still showing your art: @jessswan_art: here, here, and here.
  • If your studio space is hideous (like mine), create a photo corner with a drop cloth, white sheets, fence panels, or whatever other props you can find to make the space look clean and branded to your colors and then stage photos there.

8. Use quotes.

I don’t often recommend posting quotes as your graphic, but if it is appropriate for your brand, then it’s a good way to maintain a color scheme, show your personality, and provide value to your audience all while giving you extra content to post.

Just make sure that the quotes you post have a purpose beyond being ‘filler’ content. Whether it’s a quote from you, or a quote from another creative person, it should be connected to your brand.

When you post quote blocks, try to sprinkle them in your feed naturally instead of posting all in a row or in a geometric pattern.

***

So there you have it. 8 Different ways to create more content for your social media presence without actually having to create more art. Realistically, you can get 5-10 unique photos/videos all using the same piece of art. That means if you are just posting the bare minimum of once per day, you could create enough content by working on one piece of art a week. Sprinkle in a photo of you, a photo from past works, a compilation photo of complementary pieces, and maybe a quote and you can see how quickly you can get into a content creation groove.

I hope that gave you some ideas for your own social media accounts. If you’d like one-on-one guidance of how to give your Instagram account a make over, check out my consulting services. My schedule is limited as I’m usually covered in paint in the studio, but I’m always happy to help other artists.

As always, leave your questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Also, please subscribe to my email list if you never want to miss a blog post, and consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon to support the creation of these posts.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks.

Further Reading: