I’m glad you like my custom Triceratops tattoo; I’m very fond of it, as well. Thanks for asking if Mike Bellamy and I would mind if you copy it, but the answer is: PLEASE DON’T STEAL THIS TATTOO DESIGN.
I spent many hours deliberating over the elements of this tattoo, and researching photos and other images of dinosaur fossils, flowers, other tattoos, etc. Mike built upon my ideas and research to create this awesome, original, unique tattoo design. Obviously, this isn’t a piece of flash that i picked off the wall at the tattoo shop.
I imagine that your tattoo artist would also much rather create his or her own custom design than copy someone else’s hard work. The tattoo community is more interconnected than you might think, and word gets around if an artist is stealing others’ custom artwork.
When I was planning this tattoo, one of the most helpful resources I found was a multi-part essay, “Get the Perfect Tattoo” from Off The Map Tattoo (also available in PDF format). I highly recommend reading all the sections. An excerpt from the “The Perfect Tattoo Design” section:
Many people first learning about tattoos try to find other tattoos upon which to base their own design or idea. They may spend hours looking through tattoos hoping to find the perfect design when they should be looking at the quality of the artist’s work rather than the designs themselves. Copying other people’s tattoos is disrespectful to the wearer of the tattoo, and to the artist who drew it, provided it was a custom, one-of-a-kind piece to begin with. … To get the best tattoo, it’s worth finding a lot of reference material, and bringing the images and your ideas to the tattoo artist who will be doing the tattoo, for them to look at and then incorporate into their own style.
To avoid law suits and even a laser, get your own original tattoo. The most important reason to do so is not legal, it’s ethical. Many custom tattoos tell people’s personal stories and mark unique events and experiences. Why have another person’s life written on your skin? Get a work of art that is all about you and leave out the lawyers.
Having said that, I think it would be GREAT if you got a tattoo of a dinosaur skull with flowers and vines and stuff, even a Triceratops! As I’ve pointed out on the blog, mine is certainly not the only one out there. Don’t you want yours to be original and unique, too? Work with your artist to come up with something even better than mine, and we’ll compare dinosaur tattoos. I’d even be happy to help come up with ideas. When you get your own one-of-a-kind piece done, send me a photo, and I’ll post it on the blog (and to the Flickr group)!
Thanks in advance for doing the right thing,
Girl in bar: [lifts her sleeve] Yeah.
Me [rolling up my sleeve]: That’s really great; I just got a triceratops tattoo.
Girl: That’s cool; where did you get yours done?
Me: Red Rocket Tattoo, on 36th street in Midtown.
Girl: 36th street!?! [gives me a disapproving look, as if to say, “Silly rabbit, you don’t get tattooed in Midtown!”]
Me: [hemming and hawing somewhat]: Well, it’s close to my work…
Ok, finally, here are the “in progress” shots of the now-two-week-old triceratops skull tattoo; lots more after the jump…
Mike Bellamy of Red Rocket Tattoo giving me the business (photo by Amy).
If you hadn’t figured it out, that’s me! More photos, details, etc., coming soon…
I promised I would post this next, but I got excited about dinosaur tattoos on the web, so this had to wait.
The consultation was really great; Mike and I really seemed to be on the same page in regards to most aspects of the tattoo design, such as overall style, size and placement on my arm, angle of the triceratops skull, etc.
I brought in a bunch of reference material, too, including this photo of a triceratops fossil skeleton from Getty Images (photograph by Louie Psihoyos), and a bunch of photos of exotic-looking flowers like this one from a research website about the Paleobotany of Angiosperm Origins.
A full recap of the consultation in gory detail after the jump…
Well, I finally got the courage up to go into an actual tattoo shop, as opposed to just lurking around shops’ websites and artists’ TattooNOW profiles. After work on Friday, I stopped in at Red Rocket Tattoo, which I chose not only because it’s highly acclaimed and very convenient, but because every one of the portfolios on their website is full of great-looking work.
After a somewhat awkward initial exchange with the person (artist Betty Rose) who greeted me (“I’d like to make, uh, an appointment or whatever for a, um, consultation, or however it works? I don’t know how it works…”), I settled into looking through the resident artists’ portfolios, while surreptitiously observing the staff and clientele…
Ok, after a brief (on the cosmic scale) hiatus from blogging and tattoo mania, I’m back on the scene. This is all happening fast, but I think that A) I know what I want, and B) I know where to get it! (I wanna destroy the passerby…)
I decided that the dozens of layers of symbolism that I originally had in mind didn’t really make for a cool-looking tattoo. I also decided that to get back in the game, I should find a highly recommended local shop and go from there, rather than searching the globe for the artist that would really “get” me.
My current plan is to get a tattoo of a dinosaur skull on my right upper arm, with paleobotanical stuff surrounding it (y’know, big ferns, scary flowers, maybe a crazy pinecone-lookin’ thing in there for good measure) for color. I haven’t decided between triceratops (childhood fave) and styracosaurus (bad-ass horns), or if I want the skull in profile, three-quarters view, or head-on (I think I’d rather have a bare skull than a fleshed-out dino head, because who knows what they looked like with skin ‘n’ junk?). I’m hoping the tattoo artist will be able to help out with those decisions; I’d be happy with any of the options. Cub scout’s honor (never made it to Boy Scout), I swear I came up with this before I saw this righteous tattoo.