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  1. #1
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    How does one make a name for themselves? (literally)

    I'm talking about pen-names or nom de plumes. Some people like Pushead and maybe even Shepard Fairey. Sometime in the future I plan on promoting my work to galleries and other similar shows, but I don't want to use my real name to promote myself. I want to go by a pen name, but just a few questions:

    1. How do you do it? do you just "do it"? or do you go through some legal copyright/trademark process?

    2. What about copyright/trademark problems? wouldn't someone be able to copy your name?


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  3. #2
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    1. You just use the name.

    2. I don't know how much I'd worry about someone making off with my pen name, but I imagine the copyright process for that is the same as anything. It's automatically copyrighted to you, it's just proving that you had it first in court should something happen (Case in point). Of course, if your pen name is not that unique you may find it hard to take up any case on it (Case in point).

    If you want to trademark the name, do a bit of research into it. I wouldn't recommend doing it until you had some cash, though.

  4. #3
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    It's like a nickname. somtimes the name just finds you. eithway, if you spend your time thinking about this kind of stuff, you will never go anywhere.
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  5. #4
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    Hmm...dunno how much of a 'pen name' this is...but frankly more people know me as "Alzorath" than my real name oddly enough... (had this name for ages)...provable back about 7 years...but had it closer to 11 or so years as a 'screen name' or RPG name (almost half my life).

    You'll find though when you've established your name...it's terribly hard to change it though...so don't try and get going with something you'll regret lol (a few years ago I tried changing names...and frankly couldn't do it, people still called me "Alz" or "Alzorath" even though I had a different alias).

    Frankly glad Alzorath stuck and not the name before this (would be feeling tacky now lol).

    In other words, usually it's something you just fall into by "doing your thing" - and if you become relatively well known, and it's a unique title, you'll have some legal standing to it.
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  6. #5
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    theres a guy around here who calls himself Horsebutt for gallery shows. That's about as far as my thoughts on stage/pen names takes me.
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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleep_Eden_sleep
    I'm talking about pen-names or nom de plumes. Some people like Pushead and maybe even Shepard Fairey. Sometime in the future I plan on promoting my work to galleries and other similar shows, but I don't want to use my real name to promote myself. I want to go by a pen name, but just a few questions:

    1. How do you do it? do you just "do it"? or do you go through some legal copyright/trademark process?
    Just do it. If you want to be able to have checks made out to your psuedonym, open a d.b.a. (doing business as) bank account.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleep_Eden_sleep
    2. What about copyright/trademark problems? wouldn't someone be able to copy your name?
    Someone can do that with your real name if they have a legitimate claim to it (like it happens to be their name too). The only 100% protection is a trademark, but that's expensive, complicated, and honestly probably not necessary.

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  8. #7
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    interesting subject. i personally wouldnt mind having something more recognisable than chris green, although i dont mind the ring to it regardless.

    out of curiosity, have you any ideas?

  9. #8
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    Not strictly for pedantic purposes, but it's "noms de plume". Like "attorneys general" and "courts martial". Easily missed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell
    If you want to be able to have checks made out to your psuedonym, open a d.b.a. (doing business as) bank account.
    "Uh, yeah... I'd like to open a d.b.a. account"

    "Your name sir?"


    "............... Horsebutt"


  12. #11
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    If you have a nickname which follows you everywhere (like blue, for me) then thats kinda already your pen name. I am never too consistant with how i sign work, but if its a text copyright, its my real name.. if i write it by hand, i use Blue. My real name always feels more professional, honestly. My nickname i like to tos around for more personal work.

    I imagine with time, one may dominate the other, but only time will tell. If you already don't have one, you probably should stick with your real name. If your real name is generic as hell (john smith) then use the nick name.

    In the end, if people call you by your nick name in person and you sign your work as such, it becomes more written in stone. As far as copyright...i have no clue how that madness works.
    My work: [link]

  13. #12
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    i got a call from a telemarketer once asking for Amish (emphasis on the "i"). I always planned on starting a career as a pretentious abstract artist from Croatia who doesnt do any interviews or takes any pictures or deals with his collectors or shows up to his own shows. I also planned on killing him a few times to artificially increace prices. I'm saving that for my midlife crisis though

  14. #13
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    I imagine with time, one may dominate the other, but only time will tell. If you already don't have one, you probably should stick with your real name. If your real name is generic as hell (john smith) then use the nick name.
    Actually I don't have one, but I wouldn't want to present myself to the public with my current name. It doesn't sound.. I guess.. good enough? Don't get me wrong, I know that it's just a name and my art will most likely speak for itself, but my name is too native (don't take this the wrong way, anyone), which brings up another topic, being that I'm not gonna be representing my native culture in my work, so that would be one of the many reasons why I want to sever the connection. I adore such names like Mark Ryden, Pushead, Shepard Fairey, Michael Hussar, Camille Rose Garcia, and Lori Earley. I guess you can say I've adapted to another culture, but I'm not saying that as if I'm ashamed of my own, because I'm not, I just don't want to push that "pride" button because that's not what my art is going to be about.

    PS, generic names like John Smith, while isn't my choice of a name, would be a very normal-but-catchy pseudonym if paired with a good artist and artwork. I like people with those types of names. Simple, yet interesting (with the assumption that their art is as well.)



    Thanks to everyone who responded, I really learned alot.

  15. #14
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    Well I read once that porn stars get their names from using their middle name as there first name and the name of the block they live on as their last. Other then that I have no idea how to make a name for yourself.

  16. #15
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    If you want to be able to have checks made out to your psuedonym, open a d.b.a. (doing business as) bank account
    that reminds me of the first spiderman comic where he performs on a tv show and they pay him by check, but the bank won't cash it unless he can show some ID with "Spider-man" on it.
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  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell
    If you want to be able to have checks made out to your psuedonym, open a d.b.a. (doing business as) bank account.
    Hmm, that would help immensely when my clients don't read the bold print on my invoices about payment and make their checks out to my pen-name (bank loooooves that one ).

    I imagine such an account requires a business license?

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash
    chris torquise?
    got it in one.

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