Something I’ve struggled with (to this day) is whether I should represent myself online under my real name or using some form of alias. This blog was created as part of my BA Illustration course’s marking system and so was my Wix online portfolio. Anonymity was never an option. However, I had already been online publicly as Colt Cougar for several years prior to starting my course. That was the name of my PlayStation Network account with which I played games online.
When I started a you tube channel a few years ago, that was my first real opportunity to take a stance on the issue. Most you tubers use pseudonyms when they name their channels. Even Pewdiepie, the biggest of them all, uses an alias. The exception is usually when the person actually has brand value in their name, so when Jim Lee, Alex Ross or Todd McFarlane start a you tube channel, they cash in on their industry status to generate large followings overnight.
If I would put myself in the same light as professional comic book artists, then naturally, I too would use my real name. So why didn’t I? Well, let’s look at what it is I intend to do with my life. Ignoring all my speculation about things like commission based work and sole trading on eBay, what’s the plan? The plan is to consistently produce the Smile-e Show weekly, an irreverent talk show parody predominantly using characters I have no ownership over (under fair use parody law). Then I finally set to work on my 7 Demons manga and then do my western superhero parody The Awesomeness. And eventually do some form of Three Kingdoms comic, but that’s a complicated end goal.
The idea here is to become known through my body of work, not by my name per se. Lots of people enjoy One Punch Man without knowing the name of the creator, for example.
There are some security issues to this as well. Ultimately, as my online footprint grows, it would be nice to separate me professionally from me socially. Since I’m shooting blind, with every venture I take, using a false name means that if I tank my credibility as Colt Cougar, I still reserve the option to start again and do it right this time. Also, you tube comments tend to be rather vulgar. I’d rather they were addressed to a cowboy mountain lion than me personally.
I’m pretty sure I’m the only Colt Cougar in the world as well, so if you google me, you find me. I am not the only Andrew Sosnowski though. For what it’s worth, I’ve always held the opinion that fame is an unavoidable penalty attached to being successful in life. I’d rather be rich and anonymous like a shady oil baron than poor and famous like anyone who ever won a reality TV show. So in that sense, Colt Cougar is a disguise I can take off when I need to just be some guy.
Colt Cougar is also a branding tool. I’ll be drawing Colt a lot in the future and having a good time doing it too.
That said, it would be far easier to present myself as a credible illustrator to clients and agencies under my real name, but since that also comes with the caveat of needing to be a professional artist with an exceptional portfolio, that won’t be an issue for me any time soon.
Of course, I reserve the right to introduce myself to any parties using both, either or neither identities. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start… Hmm… I think I’ll be the Wizard Lizard now! YES!!!