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-april lacheur, artist
It's wedding season, a time of celebrations, reunions and excitement. For many newlyweds, myself included, it also means spending hours waiting in line for a new passport, drivers license, health card, credit card and all the other forms of identification that much be changed upon taking your husband's (or wife's) name. For some, this is a small price to pay to have that extra sense of unity in a family. For others, this is an uneccesary inconvenience in modern times. What do you think?
This is an issue faced by all newlyweds in western cultures, but how, specifically, does this impact women in the arts? Are certain professions more conducive to name changes? Changing one's name is no longer only about what appears on paper. Nowadays names are linked to websites, brands, social media and maybe even your own business. So what are the options and which one is best for you?
You could flat out take your husband’s name. Personally, I struggled with this option for a while. I wanted to have the same last name as my husband, but with an art dealer as a father and an art historian as a mother, keeping the same last name as them may be beneficial considering how small the Canadian art world is (ie. Merete Kristiansen? Your father isn't by any chance Torben?).
I put the decision on the backburner as I prepared to move to Toronto – why change my ID if I would have to do it again in Ontario? Plus, there are also those airline tickets for the honeymoon and the last thing I would want would be denied boarding with my ticket to paradise. However, when I began my new job I was asked which last name I would be using since they had to print up business cards, customize my email address, etc. Everyone had an opinion but one art dealer made a practical point: of the individuals who already know me in my business, they will not confuse me with another Merete, regardless of my last name. That was the tipping point for me. Had my other half at theartmarket.ca (Kate) been writing this blog, this would have been a moot point, as we all know about 10 Kates in the arts!
Switching over my social media accounts to reflect this change was very easy as Facebook and Linkedin accommodate maiden/married names and our Twitter feed @theartmarket_ca, Pinterest page pinterest.com/theartmarket and Tumblr theartmarket.tumblr.com are independent of my last name.
But what if your website isn’t? You could check to see if YournameYourmarriedname.com is available and redirect your current website to this address while you rebrand yourself.
If you’re an artist, what about your signature on your work? If it is important to you to keep everything the same then this might be really important. But, if your signature evolves just like your art then is it a big deal? It’s not the first time an artist has changed a signature. Remember Frank H. Johnston (member of the Group of Seven) versus Franz Johnston (after he left the Group)? Changing signatures can help dealers, collectors and curators date your work.
Alright, so you own your own gallery and you’re thinking the Jane Smith Gallery can’t become the Jane Jones Gallery overnight....you’re probably right. If you want to take your husband’s name, this may be one of those scenarios where you have two identities – the one at work and the one with the family, Bruce Wayne/Batman if you will. A good compromise would be to drop your middle name in favour of your maiden name and take your husband’s last name. If you sign an email from the Jane Smith Gallery with Jane Smith Jones, everyone will know you’re the boss.
There’s no right or wrong decision here, and in this day and age anything goes. But trust me with the honeymoon tickets;).