As I struggle with branding, I find myself asking that question more and more often.
Mary Montague Sikes, sometimes Mary Montague Hudson, is the name I sign on my paintings and have listed on the covers of my books. However, most of my friends call me “Monti”.
Often, that name is used for groups and events. But it interferes with branding my legal name.
The first day of college, my three roommates decided that Mary Montague was too much of a name for them to say. (Yes, Mary Washington College was overcrowded at the time and had four girls crammed into a room together. They were in the process of building a new dorm complex where we would live for our sophomore year, so we had to make do as freshmen.)
When I went off to elementary school, my mother told me, “Never let anyone call you, “Mary”. I didn’t, and to this day, I tense up when someone addresses me that way. I couldn’t be “Mary”.
One of my college roommates came up with the nickname, “Monti”, and it stuck. More and more people started to use it.
Now I am asking myself what to do. Should I brand two names?
Should I have two websites—one for Mary Montague, the other for Monti?
Is Monti the Passenger to Paradise in my books, set mostly in the Caribbean?
Is she the one who painted the “Monti Just for Fun” series of paintings? If you look at my work, she is indeed the more fun-loving artist.
What do you think? Should I sometimes be Monti? Does that hurt the branding for my real name? Will people know we are the same person?
Who is Monti?