This story is a great example of the power of naming and nicknames. It was submitted to me by a now very famous artist, who lives outside of Austin, Tex. The story is told in his own words.
"We have all heard the 'rose by any other name." However, when it comes to branding, that does not always hold true. Let me share my own experience as an artist promoting my brand name. For many years I struggled as an artist. Like many artists, I thought that struggle equaled art.
Then I married my wife, Beverly. She had been a model and then in sales and marketing for Diane von Furstenberg, Revlon and Ralph Lauren. She shared a view of creativity and success that opened my eyes to the simple reality that art is a business.
In fact, she reminded me that Andy Warhol once said that success in business is the greatest art. She also opened my eyes to another simple truth that many artists deny – great art does not bring great prices – art by well known artists does.
Beverly also took me to visit a dear friend of hers, whom she met while working for a French cosmetic company decades ago. Marilyn by this time had gone on to pursue her dream of photography and was specializing in wonderful photos of the French countryside and villages that she so loved. She and Beverly decided that I needed a makeover. So they pierced my ear, got me "artist" clothes and even worked on my posture.
Marilyn then suggested that I change my "brand" name to my nickname "Pablo." What a difference a name made! In the past, I had used my legal name, A. A. Solomon, as my art name. Unfortunately, no one remembered it. And if they did, they associated it with stock broker or scientist.
But as soon as we went with the nickname 'pablo solomon' brand (yes all small letters), things immediately turned around. I did more sales and got more attention in a few years than I had in the past three decades as an artist. People around the world immediately associated 'pablo solomon' with art. Also because both 'pablo' and 'solomon' are familiar names, people thought that they had already heard the name somewhere.
Since going to the 'pablo solomon' branding of myself and my art, I have been featured in books, magazines, newspapers, on TV, on radio and in film. I was chosen by PBS TV to promote their series Art in the 21st Century. I even was the first visual artist to have a solo show at Houston's premier performing arts center, The Wortham. The number of commissions that I have received has skyrocketed and sales are strong. I am being contacted by the rich and famous, as opposed to knocking on gallery doors. We are now living an exciting and successful life that most people can only dream of.
So when choosing a brand name, choose wisely. Even Robert Zimmerman decided that "Bob Dylan" was a better brand, and the rest is history."
John Leaf was born in western Illinois, a mile east of the Mississippi. College in Chicago. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Leaf was goalie on the soccer team and captain of the golf team in college. He cut class to ride the "L" to see Cubs games, hung out for hours at the Art Institute and bent the brain doing graduate school in Theology.
He spent three mind-blowing summers in coastal British Columbia, as a resort photographer. He worked and lived in Minneapolis. He did hard time at a bank on LaSalle Street in Chicago and learned about PR, working at big firm a block off Michigan Avenue, while living in Evanston.
Now Leaf is just living the dream, under the radar, in Cedarburg. He's passionate about nicknames and launched his website three years ago.
He dabbles in yoga and cycling. Fishtailing as always, and taking a whack at life, like everyone else.