Tattoo Copying: What's the Big Deal?
It is often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when it comes to something as personal as a tattoo, I could not disagree with that sentiment more.
As tattoo popularity grows, so too does the likelihood of a tattoo being copied for one reason or another. While some people truly believe that they are being complimentary to their idols and that ripping off their body art will somehow gain their attention or affection, others are simply ignorant to how unimaginative and disrespectful it is to copy an already existing tattoo.
Although I am not a tattoo artist, I can sympathise with how frustrating and disheartening it must be to have designs which have taken countless hours to create, stolen and used by predominantly inexperienced and lazy ''artists'' whose only goal is to make a quick buck.
But of course, tattoo artists are not the only people affected by copied designs. The original client must then also deal with no longer having a unique piece of body art which they more than likely worked with the original artist to create.
Inspiration V Copying
To be clear, I'm not targeting those who take inspiration from a piece of art and turn it into their own thing. Being inspired by someone else's work is normal and it's vastly different than outright reproducing it and claiming it as your own idea.
For example; it's okay to incorporate some aspects into the design you want - after all, we all get our ideas from somewhere and very rarely are our thoughts completely original. However, if you want to do more than just take inspiration from certain features, then the right thing to do is ask the original artists permission and ensure they are okay with it before you proceed with your plans any further.
This doesn't just apply to tattoo artists, it applies to any piece of work you see on or offline and want to have a permanent image of on your body. Some artists and individuals will be flattered at the thought of having their work tattooed on someone for life and will therefore agree, but not everyone will feel that way which is why it is important to check fist.
Why Do People Get so Annoyed?
The reaction you will find from clients who have had their tattoos reproduced is usually that of fury, frustration and disgust. This reaction in my eyes is completely justified.
As a client, you are not only paying your chosen artist for the session, you are also paying for the design - however customised and personal that may be. For the result then, to be having all of that hard work stolen and copied by someone else is nothing short of insulting.
Copying tattoos also affects the artists who spend hours piecing together and bringing to life their original ideas. It is not complimentary or flattering, it is flat out disrespectful.
How to Prevent It?
Thankfully, I have not gone through this situation and I hope I never have to with any of my tattoos, present or future.
Preventing tattoo theft lies mostly in the hands of artists. Any reputable and professional Tattoo Artist will refuse to recreate an already existing piece of work regardless of what payment is offered. However that's not to say that clients have no responsibility and can't be held accountable for tattoo theft.
We will never be able to fully stop the uninventive from ripping off the designs of others but we can limit the scale of which it occurs.
- Educating those who are new to the world of tattoos. This includes Artists as well as clients.
- Watermarking designs.
- As much as you shouldn't have to, being selective about showing designs on social media is good way to prevent any of your designs being stolen.
How to Handle It?
If someone approaches you and asks for your blessing to copy your tattoo whether you be the artist or the original client, this is your chance to strongly advise them against what they are about to do.
Unfortunately for some people this doesn't always convince them and they go ahead and get the design done anyway.
So now, one way or the other your design has been copied and you are left feeling angry, frustrated and sometimes like you want to get rid of your tattoo.
- Remember that no matter what, your tattoo is the original. Though it is frustrating to have your design stolen, especially if it was a very meaningful and personal one, your art has not lost it's meaning or beauty because of this.
- Contact the person and explain how you are feeling and ask if they will alter their design (highly unlikely).
- Remember that yours being the original, also usually means that it is the best. When you look at copied designs, it is a very common occurrence that they are of very poor quality.
- In the end there is nothing physical you can do to right the situation, it is something you will have to come to terms with eventually, but know that you have the support of the majority of the tattoo community.
To conclude, tattoo copying is a big deal, and those who think otherwise are discourteous and thankfully have little backing in the tattoo community.
I hope this has provided a little bit of insight to the subject. If you or someone you know has had a tattoo design stolen then feel free to share your story in the comments section below and remember to take part in the polls.
Have you ever had your tattoo or design copied?
Have You Ever Copied Someone Else's Tattoo?
Questions & Answers
What harm comes from using a tattoo design you find online, from a person whom you will never meet?
I believe I have fully detailed the reasons why stealing a tattoo is not okay in my blog. Just because one person sees no issue with it doesn't mean everyone else should have to live with the possibility of having designs stolen. A lot of hard work goes into creating custom designs and having something you poured your heart and soul into ripped off is awful. There is no need for it. If you love a design that much, ask the artist if they are willing to let you use it but if they say no, that is something that should be respected.Helpful 1