1. So, would this work with a pen name?

    If you brand yourself using a pen name instead of your legal name, does that cause problems?

    For that matter, how would you use a pen name and protect it and yourself?

    • I use a pen name to brand my work under Jynksie. Per the U.S. copyright office, the rules are as follows: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl101.html < this is one way of doing things.

      Branding yourself under a pen name is rather quite easy, you can actually do a DBA [doing business as]which allows you to use any fictitious name you want to build your brand/product/service off of. The DBA will not only brand your pen name, but it will protect you copyright wise, because all the places where your legal name and your pen name need to be for DBA, cover the bases. You cannot copyright a pen name or even trademark it, so the name you use offers no protections in respects to the mere copyright of your actual body of work. Pen names are merely a branding tool and as a self publisher, you are going to want your legal name all over it in the places it matters.

    • Pen Names are different than an umbrella brand (like for me, my umbrella brand is Dawn Griffin Studios) in that it provides anonymity. It protects your name, identity, and main brand. For many who choose to use a pen name, it’s for one project specifically. My DGS brand is all-ages and kid-friendly, but if I ever wanted to do an adult/edgy project, I would do it under a pen name– which means a whole new branding process, logo, copyright, etc.

      To make it official, start at the copyright office link, as Jynksie shared. All I’m saying is it may not be needed.

      • You are right Dawn, it may not be needed. I found this link and I think it does a fantastic job of explaining how simple pen names and self publishing copyright can be.


        Without naming a name, I know of an individual who creates a very racy comic book series and also creates eye burning adult illustrations. He is set up just as you are, but where you use “Dawn Griffin Studio’s”, he uses “[Pen Name] Studios” and all his work is branded under the alias pen name. If he used his real name, his employer could find it if they googled him and I’m pretty sure if an HR person found his work, they’d think twice.

        This would be the example I had in my mind when I was suggesting pen names can be branded for anonymity purposes based on content they create as a whole. If your entire umbrella of creativity isn’t something you want attached to your personal identity, then this would be one way it gets done. Whether its a norm or an exception, I wouldn’t know. I haven’t taken the time to determine who’s really who in the self publishing world.

  2. Nice article Dawn, I’m sure to be rereading/referring to it more than once! I have been just putting my comic out there, thinking that would be so much more interesting than my name. As I progress though, I now wonder if I should step out from behind the curtain a bit, maybe starting with adding an ‘about me’ to my site.

    Lots to think about, thanks again!

    • I was very reluctant to use my name, as I figured “If anyone has heard of anything, it’s my comic”. But with as many projects and freelance as I have now, I truly AM so much more than my comic… and I want to be known as such.
      Thanks for reading and good luck along your way! An “About me” page is a great way to peek out from behind that curtain, Mr. Wizard. :0)

  3. Great article Dawn!

    This topic is something I need to think about a lot these days. I am planning to have my own website to promote myself as a graphic designer, but I want to promote myself as a cartoons creator as well. Nevertheless, many marketing “gurus” suggest that we should promote ourselves as experts in one area, not as a “jack of all trades”.

    Ohhh…. life is soooo complicated! :p

    • it is a complicated matter. I took a long time trying to decide what to call my umbrella “company”. It used to be Griffin Productions, but that sounded like some sort of film & video company. Studios can too, I suppose, but I think it leans more artistic. I didn’t want to be JUST design or JUST illustration, so using “art” or “design” was too limiting. “Graphics” made me think more of the production side– printing and sign making. Plus, the term had to blend well with my name.
      Like Geoff says– it’s all about the customer base and how they find you. I have clients who think of me for designing logos… as well as clients who think of me for caricatures. My website speaks for itself– and what I can do. It may not be perfect and some would say I need a design site and a separate illustration site (so as not to send mixed messages) but thus far I haven’t had a problem.

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