Monday, June 16, 2008

What's in a Name

There's a conversation going on over at artbizblog right now about how important choosing a name that will represent you professionally is or is not. It quickly included responses from people like me who use more than a first and last name on entry forms and any other printed information about us. The discussion starts here and continues here and here. The basic gripe is that often those in charge drop the middle name, usually citing space limitations. This most recently happened to me at the POAC art quilt exhibit. One of the organizers made a point to apologize to me during the reception, and I shrugged it off, because it has always been an issue over which I felt I had little control. I can understand that fitting a string of names into a predetermined space might not always work.

Artbizblog's Alyson B. Stanfield, however, councils not to let it go, to kindly but firmly insist on the name being listed exactly as submitted on forms. In the past, I rarely even found out about the omission until after the exhibit was over, when my work would be returned with its signage and occasionally a show booklet. Or would discover it while viewing the exhibit, when it felt too late to do anything about it.

One of the things I have to do for my ArtWalk entries is fill out my own cards identifying my work. Granted, these cards are pretty small, 2" x 3", but as I stared at the space, I had a feeling I could squeeze my three name moniker on that line without it looking squeezed in. Sure enough, as you can see from the picture above, my version on the right is just as readable as POAC's version on the left. Maybe it's because I've had years of experience spacing it out on labels and entry forms. Maybe it's because it is important to me that my maiden name be in there because it is distinctive and separates me from all the other Sheila Barneses out there. (Just using my middle name or initial instead of the maiden name pulls up a surprising number of us on a google search.).

At any rate, this little exercise made me sorry I didn't insist that the two signs by my work weren't redone, didn't offer to do them myself. With Alyson's encouragement, next time I'll be more bold. But I'd still like to know how I can keep tabs on this when sending work to exhibits I'll never attend. Any ideas?

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