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Advice on using a pseudonym / pen name as a game artist?

polycounter lvl 2
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xhi polycounter lvl 2

I'm a student in my senior year as a game artist and am stressing over something really silly (imo).  I personally don't feel comfortable using my real last name professionally for a couple of reasons.

1. If I get married my last name will change
2. My full name + .com brings up someone else's portfolio which misrepresents who I am
3. My last name is really "basic" and doesn't turn up results for me in a search
4. I've gone by the nickname sxhi in different social media so everything matches, but I can change that easily since I haven't made a huge presence online yet.

These seem like semi valid reasons to use my first name + Xhi as a last name.  One note is that I wouldn't permanently change that or put it on my resume/professional contact, just for my portfolio, business cards, and social media.  Maybe even put Xhi in parentheses with my last name at the end.

Some concerns:

1. People will question me constantly
2. People might think I'm childish? and/or won't accept who I am as a person

Any thoughts?  I've asked friends but I need some advice from a different perspective.


  • slipsius
    I think there are a lot of high quality game artists that are famous within our community that don't use their real name. Only a screen name. I would imagine that when they show up to interviews, or people see their resume, it brings the same "YOU`RE ____?!?!?!?!" response. 

    So I say follow your instincts. If you don't want to use your real name, don't. Pick a screen name and stick with it. 
  • monster
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    monster polycounter
    "I would totally skip over a portfolio if it had a pseudonym instead of a real name."

    ...said no one ever. I think your plan sounds reasonable. In fact, my own portfolio has my online name larger than my real name: http://www.juantwo.com/

    I don't know your name, but Juan Martinez is both more common and boring. It's basically the John Smith of the latino world. Not to mention that JuanMartinez.com is a much better artists than me. :neutral: 
  • Makkon
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    Makkon interpolator
    Eventually people will know you by your real name and alias. Put them both up everywhere, and they become interchangeable. Best of both worlds.
  • PolyHertz
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    PolyHertz hero character
    If you have a really common name then using a distinct online handle is the way to go.

    My name is extremely common, and I've met many people with it throughout my life.
    It's so common in fact, that years ago my mailman had the EXACT same first/middle/last name as my father, his eldest son had the same first/middle/last name as me, and his other son had the same first/last name as my brother. Other then the middle name for my brother their family was a carbon copy of mine. I shit you not.
  • Equanim
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    Equanim polycounter lvl 11
    ^  Don't use one like mine.  Use one that, when you meet people in person, they'll know how to pronounce and are probably already familiar with.  Stringing together common words is a good way to go, like "ArtGerm" or "BlankSlate".
  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir ngon master
    I have long time friends and colleagues who call me Lee or Gir, i answer to both and neither i or they care.
  • Joopson
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    Joopson quad damage
    I've used the name "Joopson" online since I was, like, 13. Andrew Leslie isn't a really common name or anything, but as a domain, it's taken, and there are a few other medium-profile people in the world with the name, but mostly, I just happened to choose it, and have stuck to it. So I use "Joopson" for everything, and at my last job, everybody called me "Joopson" or "Joop". Nothing wrong with a pseudonym or nickname, at all. It's almost expected, I'd think.
  • leslievdb
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    leslievdb polycounter lvl 15
    i use my real name because my nickname sounds like a 12 year old non native english speaker made it up, which i did
    but then again not a lot of people have my first name and my very dutch last name in the art community
  • thomasp
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    thomasp hero character
    you can get all technical with finding the right online handle, perhaps make sure it does not mean anything offensive in 137 languages, too. or do it like this guy - http://poopinmymouth.com/
    ...not a nickname you would ever forget. B)

  • leilei
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    leilei polycounter lvl 14
    indeed, poopinmymouth is one of the great art masters i learned techniques from
  • ZacD
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    ZacD ngon master
    There's so many "famous" people in gaming related industries know by their aliases, it's practically normal. John TotalBiscuit Bain. Sean Day9 Plott. Ice Frog. Gooba. Notch. 
  • xhi
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    xhi polycounter lvl 2
    Thank you everyone for the awesome replies.  Polycount is awesome (: This makes me feel a lot better about using a pen name.  I've been noticing a lot of portfolios having sort of a studio name but then their full name underneath it.  I don't think I want to take that route though.  Now the next step is deciding between two variations of the nickname.
  • garcellano
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    garcellano greentooth
    Yeah, I would say a nickname or username would stand out if your name is commonly used. There's a few here on Polycount that I'm familiar more with their username.
  • Popol
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    Popol interpolator
    The name you use doesn't matter at all. Because if you make good art people will remember your name, whatever it is.
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi polycounter
    I say use your real name.

    I used to have an online name back when I joined Polycount, but quite a few of us realized the importance of being able to MARKET yourself along with your art.

    A LOT of senior artists have switched their names over a few years ago.

    You WANT yourself to be associated with your art. You gain absolutely nothing with anonymity.

  • Panupat
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    Panupat polycounter lvl 15
    I prefer to use my real name as well. Tho I'd avoid using last name on its own for the reason you stated above, it's prune to change.

    There's a few variation I can use for myself tho - pchong, panupatc, panupatchong, I'd mix and match that personally.

    I also have an alias - direwolf - tho I don't try to connect it to my real name that much.
  • leilei
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    leilei polycounter lvl 14
    >You WANT yourself to be associated with your art. You gain absolutely nothing with anonymity.

    Personal security is something to gain.   In 2015, there's a real internet of assholes out there that would act on gender and/or subject matter.
  • iadagraca
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    iadagraca polycounter lvl 5
    My post from earlier might help cause some people made points about multiple aliases and branding. Heads up though one post in NSFW despire being hilarious.

  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycount sponsor
    I just made a screen name that contains my last name.  Easy to associate screen name with real name, website URL doesn't seem too strange if seen on a resume or business card... seemed like a good idea at the time.
    Edit: Keep in mind, there are lots of options regarding your name when getting married.  You don't have to change your last name, or you could even take the opportunity to change your name to something entirely different than either you or your spouse (you're going to be getting new identification papers/items anyway most likely.)
  • cryrid
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    cryrid interpolator
    Pen name for me. I can think of at least four other 3d artists/animators that share my name, and a dozen others who are painters/illustrators/photographers. 
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