Is it Steve or Steven?
Off the bat, I'm going to admit to this being a pretty mundane question, but it just might be the most frequently asked question of them all, so it seems worth addressing.
Anyway, the short answer is that I don't care. Call me either one, or simply "Belledin," if that's easier for you. I likely will answer to any of them, so don't sweat it. I'm sure that this lax attitude regarding my name will cause about one percent of you to then wonder why I use "Steven" over "Steve" to begin with, if there is no preference. For the curious, I will provide an answer.
When I showed up on the scene of gaming illustration, there were already several guys with the name "Steve" working in the genre. Steve Prescott and Steve Ellis were two guys that I not only knew of, but then was privileged enough to get to know personally. So, straight away you've got three of us, and it so happens that we usually end up in close proximity to one another at conventions and such. Then there was this guy called Steve Argyle who came along. Suddenly the industry begins to feel Steve-heavy. Add to that other artists who currently work or have worked in the industry like Steve White, Steve Firchow and Steve Luke, and things really started to feel quite crowded.
While our last names are all wildly different, I figured it might be worth separating myself a little further. My first option was using my first two initials then my last name. Seems like a good idea, but I've never been referred to in that way my entire life. I don't have initials that work as a second name like A.J. or C.J, either. My initials are far too clunky, so I tossed that idea aside and kept moving. The second option I came up with was to use the initial for my first name and go my middle name instead. I knew a few folks in college who did this, and it seemed like a viable possibility. Once again, it just felt awkward and clumsy so that idea got a pass, as well. The only real option remaining was just to keep the full name of "Steven" in there. Sure it's a little more formal, and possibly pretentious, but it's used far less in the industry. Obviously it's the option I went with and so it remains — it is my name, after all.
The choice to use "Steven" instead of "Steve" has had its good sides and bad. There's at least a point of difference at a glance, and so on the page it sticks out (though only just a little). It's not major, I admit, but it's there and I'll take what I can when there's a room full of signs for various Steves. The other nice thing is that there's a specificity to it. It somehow feels more precise, though I guess it's really not. That might just be the pretentiousness seeping in. On the other hand, it does provide a bit of alliteration with my last name, so there's that.
One of the biggest downsides early on was that it made finding me online a little more difficult. Before search engines became as advanced as they are now, entering in "Steve Belledin" brought up slightly different results than "Steven Belledin." One of the biggest differences in the two was that my website would appear in the results only if the "n" was included. "Steve Belledin" typically brought up online conversations about how terrible I am at this whole art thing. Fortunately, things have advanced enough where you can get both kinds of results by entering either name. Gotta' love the internet!
As far as I'm concerned, "Steven Belledin" is what I like to be credited as. I do art, "Steven" gets the credit. I make a sign, "Steven" is the illustrator. "Steven" also has business cards, prints... all kinds of stuff that clutters the house. As I've already stated, however, you're welcome to call me "Steve." Where this really falls apart, however, is at conventions and such where there is at least one other Steve — something that happens quite frequently (there being so many of us and all). Add to the mix all the artists whose names happen to be "Stephen," and there's a fair chance that some confusion (and possibly hilarity) will ensue.