On the March 23, 2011 Ask Tara Reed call, Maria Brophy and I (Tara Reed) discussed when an artist might want to use their name as the name of the business vs. a non-name name.  We decided that when it comes to building an art brand, an artist often uses their name.

But we have a friend who doesn’t use his given name – David Billings – but goes by Sparky Firepants.  In fact, I never think of him as David but always as Sparky… it SO fits him!  He listened to the audio recording of the call and sent me an email, sharing his point of view.  I then asked if I could share it with the group to which he replied – of course!

This is what I love about the community of artists we are building here – we are happy to share, support each other and cheer each other on.  Yeah tribe!

Here is the email we received…

Good Afternoon Ladies,

I’ve been listening to your latest Ask call today. There’s so much good stuff in there. It doesn’t matter how many calls I listen to or posts I read, I always learn something new. You both rocked it.

My ears especially perked up about the discussion of names. You both know me, and obviously I go by Sparky Firepants (vs David Billings Designs).

Sorry. I fell asleep for a second after typing David Billings Designs. I’m back now.

I understand and agree with your advice that artists shouldn’t try to get too clever with their name.

At the same time, I have to say that using the name Sparky Firepants has been a fantastic thing for me.

My experience has been that people are immediately drawn to Sparky Firepants. My experience at the recent CHA Trade show was pretty telling. Even if they don’t know what I was about yet, virtually everyone who walked by silently mouthed the name and paused. 90% of the time they smiled.

Yes, some people wrinkled their noses or had a blank look, like, “Wha? Huh?” and just kept walking. However, quite a few people approached me to find out more. Interestingly, even some of the crafters (non-art buyers) took a few minutes to look over my art and comment that they wanted to see my stuff in stores.

Now, this is just a name. It’s a head-turner, sure. But if my goal (especially at shows) is to draw people in and qualify them as potential partners or buyers, then it does a tremendous job.

That said, I could never just be a clever name and make anything happen. Once people are approaching me, I need to make sure I have great art and the business skills to back it up.

I thought your answer was great because I get so many people saying, “Sparky Firepants! I wish I had thought of that!”

Ugh. I think, even if you could have thought of that, it wouldn’t be the same for you. Sparky Firepants IS me. I AM Sparky Firepants. I have been since I was four years old. And the kind of art I create is totally Sparky Firepants. It’s not Blaylock, Brophy, Lassen, Reed, or Brent (all great art, just not mine).

I think this is an important distinction. Megan Russell Designs can sell Alaskan landscape oil paintings, but Sparky Firepants never could. It would create cognitive dissonance to buyers. Megan Russell, however, could sell bright, fun character art just fine.

I hope that people understand this. They see my name and say, well Sparky Firepants is doing it, I have to come up with MY clever name. Not necessarily so. It’s a good lesson in doing what works for your business and your ultimate goals, not someone else’s.

Whew. I hope that all made sense. I really enjoyed the call. Thanks again.


Mr. Pants
David Billings {Chief Pants/Illustrator}
Sparky Firepants Images
Fresh & bright illustration for fun people
Sparky Firepants dot com

Facebook: Sparky Firepants Images

Twitter: @sparkyfirepants

The lesson to be learned from this is, once again, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Listen and learn from others, then decide what you believe will work best for your business.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Do you have a copy of the mp3 replay?  Not only did we talk about business names but much, much, more… get all the details and order your copy today!