What About All These Names

You may have a piece of my artwork signed Zoia. You may have a business card that says J.Hitzig (no space!). You may have a very old drawing that says JEH. Those are all me.

Ever since early childhood, I have been fascinated by names. Their power to interface with another person, to transmit a mental image of a personality, to conjure someone into a conversation. The idea of transforming identity by changing names is pure magic. This is related to my interest in language in general, and my love of Conlangs in particular.

Jaana is the name I grew up with. The J is pronounced like a Y. It has a double-A. My mom saw it in a book and liked it. It seems to be common in Finland and German-speaking countries. It is not a common name, especially here in the U.S. As you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time, cumulatively, spelling it out over the phone, correcting it on paperwork, and explaining how to say it. There is a record in a courthouse in Austin, TX, where it is still spelled wrong after three corrections. It is a high-maintenance name. It is always absorbing time and effort from social encounters and workplace introductions, and it distracts from the matter at hand.

So I tried on a pen name for a couple years. I really loved the idea of having a separate public persona and of having a name that wasn’t burdened by confusing spelling. I made the mistake of choosing a name that was just unusual enough and interesting enough that people always asked about it, and in the end I just wanted to be myself anyway, so I have shed the adopted name Zoia, and now I am back to signing my real name, Jaana.

Ways that I have signed artwork, more or less in order from oldest signatures to newest:

  • J.E.H.
  • Jaana Hitzig
  • iloivar
  • iloivar J. Hitzig
  • J.Hitzig
  • Zoia J. Hitzig
  • Jaana Z. Hitzig
  • Jaana Hitzig
  • Jaana

I’m trying to settle down, I promise.