Names are funny things they usually stay with us longer than anything else, yet people that dislike or even hate their names seldom do anything about it. I guess for many legally changing one’s name might seem like a slap in your parents face or the long line of history. Some may think it is difficult, expensive or just not something ‘normal’ people do.
I know it sounds crazy but I never felt any connection to my birth name, It was an ugly shape and sound. My first name had no link to my ancestry or place in the world. My old first name would bring up images of Italy, I have nothing against the Italians but no one in my family was Italian or had ever been there. My name was normally used as a shorter version or replacement for something else. Every time I was asked for my name in an official capacity I would be told No, I need your real name. Then I would have to explain that it was my real name and sometimes prove it .
My surname didn’t have a lot going for it, most people spelt it wrong and it also sounded very much like a world famous cartoon character. When I searched my family history I discovered that the men had never amounted to very much, they had seldom be able to provide for there families. Sadly they were often force to give away their children because it seemed they were unable to afford them . Another strange discovery was that the family themselves seemed to struggle with how to spell their own surname. From one marriage, birth or death certificate to another the name change slightly, This may have been in attempt to avoid debt collectors.
I concluded if they couldn’t keep a grasp of their name why should I . One morning I awoke and announced to my wife I would be changing my name very soon but what would I call myself? That was the biggest problem of all. We all have gone through days and days of trying to think of names for pets or even children, naming yourself well that was completely uncharted territory.
As an artist the shape of the name was as important as it’s meaning or sound. I also wanted something that was short and to the point and be available for a domain name.
I liked the idea of my name being of Old Norse origin, as we had started naming our dogs after Norse gods. It was also generally agreed that the family line did have some small drops of viking blood in it. I liked Eric but it was far to common and then i discovered Aric. Aric means a few things but roughly it means Eternal ruler which is wonderfully big headed and pompus something that just wasn’t the old me.
So Aric it was, but what of my new surname. I was eating in a garden centre restaurant one day and i decided to order some sparkling water they brought me a bottle of Voss water which i had never seen before. I liked the shape of the bottle and the water but most importantly for this story I liked the name. It was perfect, simply another 4 letters The A and the V worked great. I was even happier to discover that Voss was in Norway, viking country. Also i discovered it can or does mean fox, ok so it would have been nice if it had meant something more imposing like wolf, lion or bear. As I thought more about foxes I came to see that I could in fact do with some of this cunning creatures attributes. On a number of sites it claimed Voss was used for people with red hair or those who were very clever. Well I do have a red beard and as for being clever well that would be very welcome. So Aric Voss was to be my name and i liked everything about it, which was the complete opposite of my birth name that I had carried around like a chain of burden for well over 45 years.
I changed my name legally without any doubt, a decision I have never regretted. Would I recommend changing one’s name ? Yes very much so, For me changing my name was one of the most positive and self defining things I’ve ever done. I will point out you should be under no illusions what others will make of it, you will no doubt confuse, frustrate even anger friends and family. Years on some of my family still refuses to respect my wishes and call me by my new name, which after all this time kinda frustrates me. I have not mentioned my old name here, many of you reading this that know my art or photography will know it, I’m not really that bother if people find out my old name i’ve nothing to hide. For me my birth name is like a old address you remember it, but once you have moved you never use it again. When they ask what’s in a name, I would say for some people lot more than you would think .
Aric Voss new name same face