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Old 01-30-2009, 05:50 AM
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Ali the Cat Ali the Cat is offline
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The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

Hi,

I was just wondering what artists think of the idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

a lot of writers do this and also illustrators.

there is an artist I can think of who is very well known yet most people don't know who he is, and he uses his grafitti tag as his name (Bansky)

any thoughts on this please? would you do it?
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:57 AM
DJFan DJFan is offline
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

How would you file copyright ? When you copyright art you have to use your full legal name. If someone infringed how would you be able to protect your art with a pseudonym? For copyright protection you need your legal name and copyright symbol and date somewhere on the painting that can be seen, front or back. I am just wondering......
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:17 AM
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Ali the Cat Ali the Cat is offline
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

hmmm, yes I don't know about that. But the people who write books under a pen name, their work is copyrighted isn't it! but maybe it's copyright by the publisher, I'm not sure.
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:29 AM
mame mame is offline
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

Just gussing but I suspect Bansky (love that kid!) could care less about copyright.

This is an intriguing question......I recall a woman writer who used a male pseudonym. I'm going to do some research just for fun.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:28 AM
painterswife painterswife is offline
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

I think that your pen name could be used as a copyright name as long as it is the name of your business.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:56 AM
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

Would Walter Willis have got the lead in 'Die Hard'?

It doesn't matter what name you use. Copyright is on the art, if you always sign with a psuedonom it's still your art.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:56 AM
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

I don't use a pseudonym for my art (where I use my first initial and last name with the year), but I use my business name on photography work I do. My (c) symbol on my photos reads as either Aphelion Art or just Aphelion I want people to be able to do a web search and find me first thing, and since my web site is www.aphelionart.com it makes more sense to me. People in the photography circles that I shoot (dog shows and horses) know who I am and inform me if they see my work being used with my proof copyright across it (which means an image was taken from the site, not paid for). I believe that since it is my business name (and taxes have been filed on it yearly) that my copyright would be intact even without it being my actual name. However, I could be wrong, but knock on wood, so far I have never had to find out.
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Last edited by Crias : 01-30-2009 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:53 AM
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

I went to the US Copyright website. Here is what they say:

" pseudonym or pen name may be used by an author of a copyrighted work. A work is pseudonymous if the author is identified on copies or phonorecords of that work by a fictitious name (nicknames or other diminutive forms of one’s legal name are not considered “fictitious”). As is the case with other names, the pseudonym itself is not protected by copyright.

If you are writing under a pseudonym but wish to be identified by your legal name in the records of the Copyright Office, you should give your legal name and your pseudonym when filling out your application. Check the box labeled "Pseudonymous" if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym on the associated line. If the author is identified in the records of the Copyright Office, the term of the copyright is the author's life plus 70 years. If you are writing under a pseudonym but do not wish to have your identity revealed in the records of the Copyright Office, you should give your pseudonym and identify it as such. You may leave blank the space for the name of the author. If the author's name is given, it will be made part of the online public records produced by the Copyright Office and will be accessible via the Internet. This information cannot be removed later from those public records. You must, however, identify the citizenship or domicile of the author.

In no case should you omit the name of the copyright claimant. You may use a pseudonym in completing the claimant space, but you should also be aware that if a copyright is held under a fictitious name, business dealings involving that property may raise questions of ownership of the copyright property. You should consult an attorney for legal advice on these matters.

If the author is not identified in the records of the Copyright Office, the term of copyright is 95 years from publication of the work, or 120 years from its creation, whichever term expires first. If the author’s identity is later revealed in the records of the Copyright Office, the copyright term then becomes the author’s life plus 70 years.

FL-101, Revised June 2008
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Old 01-30-2009, 01:20 PM
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junge040649 junge040649 is offline
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

Actually, I've been considering doing that, but not for my regular work. I would use a pseudonym on abstract paintings I've been thinking about doing. I'd still do landscapes which would have my real name.

I heard that suggestion at an art marketing seminar. Supposedly it "confuses" buyers if they see several/many styles being put out there by the same artist--I guess it implies the artist hasn't really decided what s/he wants to do yet. Ergo: a different pseudonym for each style.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:04 PM
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Re: The idea of using a pseudonym or pen name as an artist?

I'm sure it's been done. I would guess some artists even use "avatars" as their face in public, meaning they hire someone to be the pen name so they don't have to field awkward questions and so that they can create an entire character that is more interesting than they are for marketing purposes.

That said, I believe the main application for this would be if an artist wants to release several works in very differing styles. So if you're an oil painter who does portraits you may have a pen name for your watercolour landscapes, or for if you do total abstracts. If the styles vary too much, rather than water down your brand and confuse the customer you can just use a pseudonym, and build each independently. It's like building 2 different brands for 2 unrelated products, like how one company owns Arby's and Wendy's but they don't just have one name for both, you still have Arby's and Wendy's.
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