Shortly after I posted my article about how stock images often become memes on their own, people started sending me links to recent posts on Fimoculous, Poploser and HTMLGiant about the infamous Parked Domain Girl. I was immediately familiar with the image.

We've all been there. You're typing in a domain. Your finger slips. You end up with that cute blond college student staring at you and before you know it, you've nearly forgotten what site you were trying to visit.

Who is she? And why is her image used on so many domain squatting sites?


It didn't take long before I found was this article on You Suck at Websites from 2008 asking the same question.

The commenters quickly found the image uploaded to iStockphoto in 2005 and identified the photographer as Dustin Steller. Within a few months of the article's publication Steller himself commented on the article.

Hello people.
I am the photographer who took the photo you all are talking about. I shot the series in the Kansas City area, so it is definitely not a real college campus. Here is the link to see some more from the series...
http://www.istockphoto.com/dsteller/

As a side note, yes, it is my little sister. I would like to add that she is very happily married. ;-)

Ready for a HUGE irony? If you mistype my own domain name (using stellar instead of steller), it takes you to a parked domain page with her picture. :-)
When the question was again posed on Reddit in early 2009, the comment that answered the question was voted to the top. Nearly 400,000 people have viewed the thread to date. Even though the answers are now available, the image has become such a part of the Zeitgeist that those who haven't seen the article are still asking who she is.

hannah steller russian hostproThe image is still popular among parked domains today. In my opinion, domain squatting is an annoying and obnoxious practice.

Although, I can't help but be intrigued by what some have done with the image. I decided to do a reverse image search using TinEye to find the most interesting iterations. I found over 500 variations of the same image and thousands of sites using them.

These first few examples may look familiar, the vast majority were simple re-crops. But when a piece of media grows into a meme, strange mutations occur outside of the intentions of its creator -- a hallmark of a strong meme.



hannah steller parked domain girl nipotan.org
WTF?
hannah steller anime parker ito fanart


Parker Ito PaintingArtist Parker Ito's project The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet, is a virtual shrine to Hannah Steller, containing dozens of custom oil painting re-creations of the photo. When I first clicked the link I had to double-check that the URL was spelled correctly before noticing that the site design is intentional.

Instead of painting the photo's himself, Ito commissioned them from orderartwork.com, a company in China that produces paintings on-demand, automating the painting process in a way not dissimilar to the way the image grew to popularity in the first place.