“Do you guys mind if I steal the tattoo design…?”
David recently posted a comment asking if he could steal the design of my Triceratops tattoo, designed by Mike Bellamy of Red Rocket Tattoo. My response:
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.
Marisa DiMattia (former copyright lawyer and he voice of Needled.com) sums it up nicely in an article about the legal issues of copying tattoos entitled, “A Stolen Tattoo Could Get You Sued“:
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,
- Ink Nerd had a huge spike in unique visits last weekend, coinciding with opening weekend of The Incredible Hulk. Lots of people have Hulk tattoos on their minds, I guess… I found this one by Christiano at In the Shadows Tattoo (in Porto Alegre, Brasil) on flickr (there’s also another one in Devil Dinosaur’s Geek Tattoos group)! I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I really want to, despite the lackluster reviews. It’s such a great character; why is it so hard to make a good movie? Oh, well, maybe Ink Nerd will get another spike when it comes out on DVD!
- I started a new job; it’s more of a corporate environment (not very punk rock, I’ve decided), so I haven’t felt comfortable baring my ink at work (also not punk rock). I haven’t seen ANY exposed tattoos on other employees, so I’m going to play it cool for now. Occasionally, my squares poke out from a rolled-up cuff, but I don’t think anyone has noticed. If they have, they probably think it’s a band-aid or something (I get that a lot… don’t ask me).
- I saw an excellent dinosaur tattoo on a fellow straphanger this morning, but he was chatting up a young lady the whole time, so I didn’t want to butt in and ask him to be Random Encounters Part Deux. It was a small, colorful (green with purple markings, or vice versa) theropod, maybe an Ornithomimus, or perhaps a Dromiceiomimus. Very cool, from what I saw, stretching from mid-bicep down past the elbow. I would have liked to get a photo (or at least a better view), but alas, it was not to be. I’ll just have to keep my eyes open around the neighborhood so I can stalk him. I love it when I see dinosaur tattoos out in the world (especially of interesting species); they’re surprisingly few and far between on the web!
- I’ve been trying to create a flattened out picture of my Triceratops tattoo using David Allen‘s Photoshop CS3 auto-align/blend trick, but I can’t get it to work right. I think I need to get someone else to take photos from different angles that don’t suck. If I ever figure it out, I’ll post the result here.
New additions to the “Dinosaur Tattoos” flickr group!
So, as I mentioned earlier, I started a flickr group and began to invite people to join. While there hasn’t been a massive flood of unsolicited submissions, the group is slowly but surely becoming respectable. Here are a couple of highlights:
Some of you may recognize this tattoo (and this person!) from an earlier post (or from the source), and I gotta say, I am just tickled to have a photo of Cerah and her (now completed, I think) triceratops tattoo in my flickr group! There’s another shot in CurtisJoeWalker’s photostream, and several more in the bmeink galleries. Thanks for joining, CurtisJoeWalker!
(Tattoo by Mark Lankin at Funhouse Tattoo in Vancouver, BC.)
rekanize gets bonus ink-nerd points for ingenuity—he didn’t have a camera on hand, so he just scanned his dino ink! Double-TRIPLE ink-nerd bonus points because it’s not only a cool dinosaur tattoo, it’s a reference to an excellent webcomic called, appropriately, Dinosaur Comics. I’m totally hooked on qwantz.com; I wish its creator, Ryan North, would publish a Garfield-style book of these comics. It would be especially bizarre because the illustrations would be exactly the same on every page (well, almost)!!! More about qwantz.com here. More webcomic tattoos here (If anyone wants to buy me a present, I really want this t-shirt , size L). Thanks, rekanize! (Tattoo by CW, owner of Royal Street Tattoo in Mobile, AL.)
There are lots more really great dinosaur tattoos in the group, and hopefully there will be even more soon!
Me: Excuse me; is that a tattoo of a dinosaur?
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…
Life imitating art?
I saw these pretty purple flowers outside of Slope Music in Brooklyn and they reminded me of something…
Sorry about the quality of the photos; the flowers were taken with my crappy camera phone, and the blurry tattoo is a self portrait.
Fun with flickr
Here’s what I’ve been playing with:
- I tried the “blog this” function in flickr with underwhelming results. I can’t figure out a way to add WordPress tags using this tool to post to this blog directly from flickr.
- I started a “Dinosaur Tattoos” group and invited some people to join (8 new members — whoo-hoo!). You may have to be logged into flickr to see all the photos.
- I submitted a photo of my Triceratops tattoo to many other dinosaur- and tattoo-related photo groups, and started a discussion topic in each, plugging my new group, of course.
- I added a thumbnail feed from Devil Dinosaur‘s “Geek Tattoos” group (at right; maybe I should be bringing in a feed from the group that I own, but DD’s covers more bases).
What do you think, am I doing it wrong? Any suggestions?
This pretty great tattoo with an increasingly familiar theme was posted recently on flickr. I did a double-take when I first saw it!
I wonder if this has anything to do with all the hits I’ve been getting from people searching for “triceratops tattoo”…
(FYI, I’m trying out the “Blog this” feature on flickr; we’ll see how it turns out–I may have to go back and edit this post in WordPress anyway.)
Update: My WordPress theme overrides all the CSS styles in the flickr blog template, and the default flickr size is about 25 pixels too wide for my theme’s content column. I’ll keep futzing with the flickr template; if I can get it to work, it’ll be a real time-saver. I guess I could also look into a different WordPress theme…
NERD TATTOOS… UR DOIN IT WRONG
D’oh! According to JLP on Associated Content, I made just about every rookie mistake in the book with my new tattoo:
It’s no secret that nerds love dinosaurs. While body art of a living dinosaur is likely to look cartoonish, fossils have a certain scientific air to them. A fossil tattoo should have a subtle, classy color scheme. Fossil designs are ideal for those who want to avoid a garish, multi-colored tattoo.
Hint: Think beyond Triceratops. Consider a tattoo featuring more obscure prehistoric creatures, such as trilobites or ammonites.
Oh, why didn’t I consult the experts before I branded myself for life as a total amateur?!
But is my tattoo a fanciful picture of a fossil with floral decorations, or a scene set in the Cretaceous of a (relatively) freshly decomposed triceratops in a field of flowers? What do you think?
Ink Nerd meets Red Rocket
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).
Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby…
While in Philadelphia, I stopped by the Academy of Natural Sciences, to check out their Hall of Dinosaurs, and I lucked out!
Not only did they have this excellent triceratops skull (it’s as big as me!), but in the fossil prep lab off to the side of the Hall, museum staff were working on cleaning and assembling triceratops fossils!
More photos (click to enlarge):
I spoke with the nice paleontologist lady in the fossil lab for a while (you can see her arms working on a cast of a big fossil in the first thumbnail photo, above), and she encouraged me to volunteer to help out with the fossil prep. When I told her I lived in a different city, she said some of their volunteers only come in once a month… don’t tempt me!
I wonder if the Museum of Natural History has a similar gig…
Looks like we made it…
Ink Nerd enters the blogosphere. Thanks for the link, Will… No such thing as bad press, right?
Tricera-tattoo Status: besides being totally awesome, it’s still swollen, sore, and a little red around the edges, but I haven’t started scabbing, peeling, oozing, or any of that stuff. It feels a lot like a bad sunburn, including the hot-to-the-touch thing. I’m keeping it moist with Aquaphor, per doctor’s orders. Also starting to get a little stubble where the manscaping was done..
Next: The making of Herbie the Love Ornithischian
Holy Triceratops Tattoo!
If you hadn’t figured it out, that’s me! More photos, details, etc., coming soon…
The design consultation
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…