Imagine you come up with a really great concept for a new piece. You’ve done your homework, found an artist you really love, pitched the idea and booked the appointment. You trust your artist with your idea and wait until the exciting day your appointment arrives. The design is perfect, even more than you imagined!! You get your wonderful new tattoo applied and take a photo to show off to your friends or to share over instagram or pinterest. Your artist is proud of their work, and they too, take a picture and add it to their portfolio & share it online! Very exciting indeed, they’re so stoked on the piece, they want to show it off!
Everything is roses.
Fast forward a few months, sometimes only a few weeks or days, and you come across your tattoo on the internet again, though, it’s not on you. It’s heart breaking, someone has ripped off your EXACT IDEA! Not only that, but the artist ripped off another artists work, entirely, claiming it to be there own!! There are differences of course, probably most are negligible, it may have some new script added to it, or some colours & placement are different, but it’s definitely not applied as well.
What do you do? What does your artist do?
Unfortunately, this happens ALL the time. And sadly, there is not a lot that can be done, other than educate.
What we try and tell clients when they come in with a picture of a tattoo they want is “We do not copy tattoos”, period. We follow with telling them that particular tattoo belongs to someone else, and we can design something original and unique for them. We try to persuade them in a positive manner, most of the time, they totally understand.
The fault of copy cat designs is not entirely on the client, often, they don’t know any better. For the most part, it is the copy cat artists fault as they DO know better and it is their job to help educate the client.
Things to keep in mind if an artist is willing to directly copy a piece:
- The artist has zero integrity, they are being lazy and taking your money that is not earned in honesty.
- They are taking advantage of you as an uninformed client and also taking advantage of another artists hard work.
- Their art & skill are also not up to snuff. Any true artist would want to put their own spin on a piece, a little bit of themselves into a tattoo.
- Pride of craftsmanship, if you encounter an artist that has no qualms with copying another artist’s piece, you know you’ve encountered someone who does not care, do you really want to be tattooed by someone who doesn’t care?
Ultimately and sadly it comes down to plagiarism and after you’ve been tattooed with a copy cat design, you are branded for life as a copy cat. The world is both very big and also very small. What would you say if you walk into a coffee shop while on vacation and someone comments on your tattoo, you’re stoked, but it turns out the person commenting on your tattoo is the original owner. They’re choked and you’re left embarrassed.
Tattoos are a wonderful form of expression. If you see a design or style by an artist, see if you can get tattooed by that artist! Sometimes it requires travel (what an awesome souvenir!), or sometimes they travel to conventions that are close to home! If you find a design you like, investigate local artists with a similar style, bring your reference into them and see what they can spin out for you! You will be far more happy with an original piece, done just for you, than a poorly executed copy cat job! Your artist will be thankful to have a chance at a fun new piece as well!
Here are some great links coming from an artists perspective! Give ’em a read through!
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