78 posts in this topic

what's everyone's opinion on this?

i know there are some artists out there that feel that if one artist bases their design off of another artist's work, that is stealing. however, almost every artists incorporates the use of designs that have been used for many, many years. what's the difference to you (if there is one)?

since i'm not an artist, only a client, i'm just curious to hear what everyone thinks.

Edited by MsRad
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Ursula and Lochlan like this

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well...this is bound to turn into a huge mess. but, here's my take. i think we all "appropriate" things, especially those of us who follow "traditional" tattooing. by its nature, traditional or classic tattooing follows a certain code, look, and rules. we follow a lineage. most of the designs have been passed on to us through that lineage and visual heritage, and their origins are long lost, or if there was an originator, he is long dead.

now, if a LIVING tattooer does something unique and original, and it's his/her own idea, and overnight, thanks to facebook, it's being copied all over the world and internet, i think that's wrong. that guy came up with something cool and new, maybe his whole own style or niche, and he's still alive, making a living. we should respect that.

Ursula, Jomester, Juan Pardo and 1 other like this

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thanks Mario. this was exactly the type of response i was hoping for. i think this thread will be fine as long as everyone stays civil about it (and i do realize that it's a heated topic).

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Yesterday a guy came in to my shop.

I really liked both of his sleeves. One arm was black and gray -done by a tattooist in Thailand and the other done by a tattooist in Oregon. Both arms had design and application elements that really impressed ( and moved ) me.

He was kind enough (and trusting ) to let me take photos of them.

Certainly I would never copy or trace designs from the pictures I took ---but it would be impossible ( and foolish in my opinion ) to not be influenced by them.

I will definitely rethink the way I draw certain things and refer to the photos.

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I believe every artist in every form (not just tattooing) takes their influences with them. It's just a matter of trying to put your own spin on it and when an original idea does come then run with it with all you've got.

Great artists are rarely born bursting with original ideas. The beginning stages of most artists involve a mimicking of something they appreciate so they can learn their craft. Most great artists that I've met manage to put in many hours of practice and work past the mimicking stage to a point where they're combining a great variety of influences to show the world their own unique vision.

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I once discussed this issue with an artist that some think is the best in the world and he told me he loved it that people continually copied his work. I don't think the clients would dig on it too much though. In the early 2000's I tattooed a Sailor Jerry piece on a friend. Even won a big award for it. That design is now found on rum bottles throughout the world. Ouch.

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where would you say the line is drawn between an influence and purely ripping off another person's work? again, just out of curiosity.

sorry if this is a lame topic/subject.

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custom tattoo rip off - lame trad image or tribute to dead trad artist - ok

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I once discussed this issue with an artist that some think is the best in the world and he told me he loved it that people continually copied his work.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

true, except that this how we EARN A LIVING. sometimes imitation takes money out of our pockets. why go see Mike Wilson (to pick a random awesome tattooer), when you can have the imitation Mike Wilson in your town copy it? that's where it gets so personal. because when it comes down to it, this is our PROFESSION. this is a craft and BUSINESS. not just sitting in a room oil painting or something. you know?

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Check out some Ed flash from the 70's , sometimes it will say copied right instead of copyright. Mike Wilson is an awesome tattooer, I see him as a versatile tattooer that doesn't have a distinct style as compared to someone like Paul Booth. Sure , Mike does awesome custom tattoos and if someone sees a picture in a book of a tattoo that he made and then copies it verbatim, that is unacceptable. But there's this hazy area between carrying on in a tradition and theft. We are all feeding off of something that has happened before us and I think that's true of most human activity. I always tell people I can do something like that but I'll personalize it for them. If we look to the sources ( outside or within tattooing) other tattooers are drawing from, we can create a piece that's more original and not a straight bite from another tattooer. In the 80's when the supreme court had to make a decision on what porn is, one of the judges said he didn't know how to define it , he just knew it when he saw it. I think its kind of like that with tattoo rip offs. So yeah, there's an overly wordy response to something you just know by looking. As far as art, craft , and business goes, the whole supposed profession is kind of big weird fighting mess anyway , isn't it? Cheers and good times!

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thanks Dean. i don't think your response was "overly wordy" at all.

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Thank you Ms. Rad. I only work with one other person, so its enjoyable to blab a bunch of whatever to other folks!

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i completely understand! blab away friend, blab away! it's enjoyable i think to read a fully explained opinion vs just a one line response that doesn't have much thought (or heart for that matter) put into it.

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I've often been out with a friend or relative who sees a work of art and says "you can do that" ---- and I point out that though I'm capable of of copying it , I wasn't inspired to do it in the first place!

You can apply it to tattooing as well.

And to use Mario's example of Mike Wilson--- I recently saw that someone had done Mike's panther woman painting as a tattoo.

Even though they gave Mike credit for the original design --- it went beyond appropriation and I couldn't see past that.

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That's interesting. When a painting appears in a book does that become flash? I think it does. If the piece was drawn up as a one of a kind for a client that's different. And by the way, the one time I hung out with Mike, was in 94 at Dave Gibson's and Mike had a tiger on him that blew me away. I believe you did that piece Deb. So yeah!

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Dean that tiger was done by Sofia ( formerly Deb Inksmith ) she was known for her beautiful tigers and big cats. Debbie was a popular name in the 50s and 60s and there were a bunch of us when we all started tattooing.

I wish I could say I had done it.

People often confuse us because we were both in Florida at the same time and our friendship with Paul.

I think when I sat in at Inksmith and Rogers -Eric wanted me to use a nickname so people wouldn't confuse us Ha!

Deb

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Dean that tiger was done by Sofia ( formerly Deb Inksmith ) she was known for her beautiful tigers and big cats. Debbie was a popular name in the 50s and 60s and there were a bunch of us when we all started tattooing.

I wish I could say I had done it.

People often confuse us because we were both in Florida at the same time and our friendship with Paul.

I think when I sat in at Inksmith and Rogers -Eric wanted me to use a nickname so people wouldn't confuse us Ha!

Deb

Now that is an awesome story I bet most people have never heard Deb!!! Thank you!

Okay....isn't flash actualy drawn to be tattooed by anyone else that would like to use it?

Where-as a custom piece is drawn speciafically for use on a speciafic client?

Therefore....if you take a custom piece and copy it....even with some minor changes...isn't that crossing the line a bit???

It is an interesting question Dean has raised though!

Does a painting become flash once it is published in a book???

Does a tattoo on someones body (essentially a canvas) then become flash if it is published in a magazine???

Any thoughts?

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This is an awesome tattoo thread to read this morning while drinking my coffee, thanks. Everyone is respectfully answering the questions and building off one another but speaking their minds on tattoo related design if you will without throwing tantrums or egos. Thanks for the respect for one another and hashing thoughts out! Especially considering tattoo designs are on everything now a days from skin to coffee cups to billboards to etc.... So all it takes is one tattooer to do a "design" and once it "hits" the public it becomes public access. Access as in a positive voyeur and verbal interaction way. So when some tattooers customer is walking down the street with their new tattoo and a random business owner sees it and thinks "that's great, I think I'll take use idea and take it to my design team." Is this infringement? Do people need to copyright their tattoos (haha, could you imagine). Or would it just be more respectful for that business owner to ask the person who did the tattoo then go find the tattooer and speak with them directly rather than their design team? Bunny goes there with an awesome question, "Does a tattoo on someones body (essentially a canvas) then become flash if it is published in a magazine???"

Bring on the answers and thanks again everyone as this thread could give random people (businesses, etc) a better idea of what is okay and what isn't when using tattoo designs in their businesses.

Thanks again.

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If i would throw in my 2 cents would be that obviously flash sheets are meant to be "copyright free" so to speak. I mean since alot of sets could come with line copies and what not...which has always left me to assume that sketchbooks have the similar purpose...or more of a..."here's what my ideas look like before i use them", which i would think more for getting ideas or incorporating the way someone would do badass wings or something and tweak to make your own. i think seeing a piece that someone did that you saw in a magazine is straight biting someone's work. most likely the piece used in the photo was original enough to be put in there in the first place.

there is some shop that has tried to add me on facebook a couple times that i keep ignoring because in their photos, the only stuff i see is poorly done versions of pieces i have seen on the "real" tattooers pages...and i can't back that shit at all. if you have the balls to straight rip off someone you better make it better than the original!

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good discussion over on seth's facebook... http://www.facebook.com/ciferri

It's has been a real good discussion on Seth's FB as it has here!

I think Dan Higgs was a real good example of a style that is being copied by some and of course

Dan was/is a good friend of Seth's so it kinda hits close to home!

Regarding our discussion here.........

I guess as a collector I would hope that the custom pieces that people have drawn specifically for me

would not be copied by anyone and used on someone else BUT I guess I have no real control over that!

It would suck though....but I know it is done all the time!

Example..... Nikki Ballssssssssss and I were talking and she asked me if i had a Bunny with butterfly wings (a Bunnyfly)

I did not so she drew one up specifically for me....as other artists have done other Bunny "themed" tattoos for me!

Now if someone else had a bunny with butterfly wings I really could have no argument with that BUT.......if it was the same

exact tattoo I guess it would make me feel a little slighted! It would have to be tweaked a fair amount to make me feel

like it was okay!

but again.....once it is up on my page, in a magazine, or in her online portfolio or fan page....there is nothing to

prevent it from being used again by someone whether I like it or not!

I don't do the contests anymore because I guess to me it just really isn't what i get tattooed for unless the

artist specifically asks me to do it! I also have been turning down the photographers at the conventions to

shoot me because again....it's not why i get tattooed and my collection has become very personal to me!

I have some of my tattoos posted here, and other places, but I don't get tattooed to help sell magazines and

there really are only a few that seem to even know what a good tattoo is anymore! JMO

I am sorry if I got a bit off topic here!

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Look as far as theft...well look at blues players..they take a 5 tone scale with a few passing tones and make it their own....How many solos i hear and I say that was a BB king lick...followed by a freddie king lick....wait there is an albert king lick....

I beg designs off anyone...ask mike wilson...or Bob roberts...recently i was doing a chest eagle and called bob and asked him a question about the way he did eagle legs(legs...and eagles..that sounds funny) and he told me just copy mine...and Mike recently sent me an envelope full of designs...I sent him pics..it aint gonna look like mikes anyway....so i always laugh when the kids at the shop buy those sketchbooks that say for inspiration only...look the whole reason we obtain flash is because"Jack rudy drew that skull so i would not have to"

I mean the individuality will come from the application anyway....Show me originality that has not been influenced or copied from someone somewhere.....color portraits..."Kari barba" 25 years ago...etc...and probably burchett 100 years ago...so really i mean if it is a good design..or idea...well as bob says "and someone else mentioned above"imitation is the best form of flattery".....I paint with bob(or rather he has been kind enough to teach me to paint) so I gather up my stuff and go over to his house and paint like he does..." he will look at my stuff...say pinups and ask me why i shaded it that way and i willl tell him because you did" and he will say well i used to shade like that but recently changed to an EASIER way....do it like this..." and i will say "no i like it the other way" well he never says do not do that...thats MINE!!!!

I have been painting the wall at the shop with flash...all like bobs....he never says "find yer own designs crabby...." he says Shane you are welcome to any designs I have...." and then i am flippiong thru some old book or some old stack of flash i have that bob shaw painted or whoever and there will be the design i thought was Bobs...he may have improved it...but still there it is....

these designs are universal..they are symbols....well he can say it better than i can..but basically what he says is a tattoo rose looks more like a rose than a real rose...and there are only so many ways to do that rose before we get cute and fuck it up trying to be original....

anyway..if you have some custom tattoo on you and you are worried about someone copy-ing it...fuck it...you gotr the tattoo...show it....the copy will never be your tattoo...never ever ever....

I was discussing this yesterday with a friend how cool handpoked tattoo were...and how our industry has become emasculated(is that the right word...what i am trying to say is BALLS HAVE BEEN CUT OFF!!!!)this person is an icon to our industry and is so sick of people wanting a consultation and a few drawings for a goddamn wrist flower...what happened to a tattoo reppresents that moment in time...not the endless...touch it up...change it etc....

lets just get tattooed and love it.....no matter what it is....even if it is misspelled....I love that shit....lets put the fun back in this shit...I have a fever....I am probably rambling so i am gonna go take some tylenol and rest my neck

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I gotta go to work..so this is fast and maybe not the best examples...but here is the same designs..different artists....the corday book has the hula girl and then the same design either jense or minugh and the hula girl outlines...one is a don nolan and the other a brooklyn joe lieber...I am sure if i was not trying to eat oats get dressed and doing this to show you guys some of these i could do a whole lot better...but i am busy...it bes like that some times...

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