We got inadvertently involved in a recent photography project by two graduating CSM students, Ellen Mercer and Lucy Streule, who started a project on celebrity namesakes which snowballed into an illustration of how a person’s name affects their identity.
Here’s Mercer and Streule’s take on the subject: “A distinctive name seems to be more important when we consider fame and the idea of ‘having your name in lights.’ Many well-known people invent new names or pseudonyms to make themselves, or their brand, more memorable. Can an uncommon name make someone less common? Does an unusual name make a person more unique? And can someone be affected by the rise and fall of their more famous namesakes?”
Their task was to track down ‘normal’ people with famous names, photograph them, then quiz them about the name they had been given, and how they felt about this.
So, for examples, Julia Roberts (at the top of this post) says “assuming that at some point I’ll get married – I will change my name. Because I like the idea of that. I don’t want to be Julia Roberts forever.”
Tom Hanks - “If I go to a nice restaurant or a nice hotel then I’m always a disappointment because I’m not him.”
Pamela Anderson - “I haven’t got any tattoos yet but I do have a red swimsuit.”
Paul Smith - “Oh, are you THE Paul Smith?’ ‘Yes. of course I am.”
George Bush - “If I were to make a name for myself, I’m sure I won’t! I wouldn’t want everyone to immediately think of George Bush, but they will. Of course they will.”
David Lynch - “It actually says a lot to me if somebody knows who David Lynch is when they meet me.”
And, not to be confused with the rather well-known world-record holding runner…
Michael Johnson - “My parents had agreed between themselves that Michael was a truly classless name. And hence the name was chosen. Unbeknown to them there would then be a million and one Michael Johnsons.”
There’s a book to be bought if you want to see more.
In case you’re wondering, this is the same team that brought you the hilarious ‘FYI I’m a graphic designer…’