Hello lovely people,
I need your help if you have a moment - boosts and discussion appreciated.

I created my artist handle many years ago, but have more and more learned that "crazy" can be considered ableist and oppressive. All my branding, my entire online presence is tailored to that name, which makes me hesitate to change it, but keeping it just for that reason would feel wrong.

What are your thoughts? Does the context make any difference here? Feel free to be blunt.

It's probably relevant to say that I am not disabled.

The background is, that I used to draw a lot of wannabe surrealist art when I started out, and thought it was fitting.

@acrazymind I think you shouldn't focus too much on that. Keep the handle.
Unless you use it as part of an identity to insult people with mental illness it takes quite a bit of effort to see it as oppressive.

@acrazymind I think the longer you keep it, the more "out of date" it's going to be. Plus, you mentioned that it was from a former period of doing surrealism, and that you've moved on. So, I think a name change is a right thing to do, even if it would be difficult.

Names are important, but having a fresh "identity" could be a really good opportunity. I think as long as you could keep your existing audience, you'd be fine

@acrazymind I think that, when put in context, it is clear that you are not calling anyone 'crazy' - to me, in the way you are using the word, it feels more like 'wild', 'uncontrolled', or 'chaotic' which to me are positive traits when it comes to artists because those are the people who make interesting stuff ^^
I'd say your handle is fine!

@aetios Thanks for your thoughts! Somewhat related question: how did you come up with yours? Not sure how I'd go about finding a replacement in case I do decide against keeping it. 🤔

@acrazymind I came up with this nick 9 years ago (damn, im getting old), at the time i was hella nerdy and looked up the greek word for eagle (aetos) and, because I was signing up for a TI calculator programming site, mashed it up with TI to give aeTIos. I've since dropped the capitals and the original meaning got lost but yeah, that's how i came up with mine. :)

@acrazymind
That's an uncomfortable situation. If I were you, I would consider other reasons for keeping/abandoning the handle, besides ethical. Does it still describe the work you do well? Would you lose followers/brand recognition if you moved on? Would it hurt you financially (i.e. are you doing professional work where clients recognize you by the handle instead of your real name?)

Judging from the context, I think you might already have an itch to move on anyway, ethics or not.

@acrazymind
If you feel worried about starting completely from scratch you could consider evolving the handle. You might, for example, drop the "crazy" wording and pick a different "mind" thst would better describe what you do: wild? disarrayed? full of pterosaurs? 😁 That would help people get used to the change, and give you some leeway as you move on.

@annathecrow Thanks a lot for your elaborate answer! Since it's from an era when I started out, it's true that it doesn't fully reflect me or my work anymore, so you're absolutely correct that there's other reasons, too. I've used it extensively with clients, yes, but on the other hand I fear changing will only become harder the longer I wait.
The mind part doesn't need to stay, but I'm not sure how to find something that represents me, is memorable, and available on social media + domain. 🤔

@acrazymind

I would change it, in case you don't consider yourself crazy.

There's more than one reason, but this one is important: people are starting to reclaim "crazy" for themselves and this way, try and fight the oppressive power this word still has. You now, a bit like it went with gay and queer and many more words connected to some people's identities which were used as slurs and to mark them as outside the accepted norm before.

@acrazymind

You wouldn't want to call yourself "totally gay artist" unless you were gay yourself, right?

"a crazy mind" suggests that this is your battle and you are reclaiming a word that's (still) being used to oppress a lot of vulnerable people.

If you are not one of them, you can just choose to identify with some of the cool aspects of what this word transports but you don't have to deal with the full package of hate in return and that's not cool.

We can't just ignore what's going on.

@acrazymind

On the other hand, I would love to see a lot of words that are used in a hateful way to change their meaning. I want people to think of good things the second they hear "disabled" or "crazy" or "autistic" and not associate all the bad stuff with it. And for us to not have to live with all this hate every day.

But we are not there yet.

I think it's important not to hurt people even more. Even if not every single crazy person might feel this way.

@jules Thank you a ton for your in-depth thoughts, through your and everybody else's feedback I'm beginning to better understand why I was growing uncomfortable with the name. You raise very good points I haven't considered before, so I appreciate it a lot that you took the time to get back to me. I will very likely change it, though it might take a while until I have found an adequate replacement and am able to switch all my work related stuff.

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