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risky business: art theft and the importance of "freestyle"

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

In the midst of the digital age there is a harsh truth to face.

Art has in fact become quicker and easier to produce. This does not mean the task does not require any less skill.. (I mean face it... we have all been exposed to r/delusionalartists... if you haven't... .... you're welcome)

As a result art has drastically lost a lot of it's value. I mean, who can compete with machines? Something made by hand takes double or triple the time, and they maybe get paid $2 an hour, if they are lucky and a customer is will to pay...

I know the tattoo world is a bit different... but I've watched other artists experience the same kind of struggle within a different context... any ways... it's a HUGE freaking bummer!

back to tattoo world

There is this weird assumption that artists are just super comfortable with sharing their art through e-mail with the new age of tech... I know it is a customer service based assumption, but its a ridiculously tall order to expect from an artists without offering any kind of compensation.

sad part is... a lot of artists are super comfortable sharing their art online freely, and a lot of clients tend to think that this is commonplace.

(yes, ,e too.... I would Do this, because it was easier to just "get it over with" than fight about it... and sadly if you worked your balls off, there was always a larger percentage of clients expressing their dislike for the art, in some surprising and occasionally abusive ways. There really is no reason to go out of your way for people when it comes to art, especially when they behave like that)

Truth… This is kind of courtesy needlessly puts the artist’s work at risk…

Other sad news is… ALL art is risk. Especially art in the form of ink.

Other harsh truth...

THE SECOND that you share any new ideas or concepts online, it's being taken, most definitely and without question.

There is nothing you can really do about it as an artist... it's just how people happen to be, in the world wide web...

Recently ended up down that rabbit hole a bit, when one of my previous clients sent in an inquiry about a design for a watercolor pineapple.

The funny thing was, that it was a poorly done copy of one of my original pieces!

So I went on an internet adventure… it took me literally 5 minutes to find the tattoo on Pinterest, as well as a link to a web article.

Interesting thing was, I couldn’t find any credit for any artists within the article. A good old case of googling images and making up some word BS to make a buck.

I wouldn’t say I was so much surprised as I was dumbfounded by the thing. I just didn’t think that it would have been that easy.

I feel really bad for the client. I really enjoyed working with her on the piece, because she let me have fun with it…but now it’s plastered everywhere and she can’t even control where it is.

Other side of the coin, I mean it’s cool to be a bit of a trend setter in your own right. I mean, everything is bound to be liked by someone somewhere… and we all genuinely know that there isn’t really such a thing as original thought… and having your ideas being liked is entirely what the Tattoo Art collecting world is built on.

I logic loop myself a bit with this one a lot as well. I become inspired by things I have not created often. That inspiration can sometimes look very similar to the source of the inspiration... sooo doesn't that mean I'm just like everyone else?

(THIS track of thinking has made me take up photography again, and actually go outside and take pictures of things that I think might be interesting tattoos. It's tough because Alberta isn't exactly exciting as a place... shifting my perspectives has been a pretty big struggle.) This also means that I might have to additionally put myself at more risk of "being disliked" a lot more. This is something a lot of artists wrestle with... "do I do exactly what the client is asking of me? or do I draw something epic and different?" This kind of risk leads to tons of art rejection... but it is worth it.

It sucks, but it really validates one of my growing pains this last little while… and I really hate the growing pains...


I need to be specializing, and can't handle "copy/paste" style work...

(surprisingly a very high number of clients and tattoo collectors think that this is just how things are done. Just let your artist be wicked. You’ll get better work out of them.) (Don't ask me to be a copy cat, I'm over it)

This is why I’m leaning into free handing almost everything that I have the opportunity to. For the sake of my art and my clients, because it is important to me that the work I do is as close to ORIGINAL as I can possibly provide. Painting freehand is my jam and becoming a fully Custom Specialist is my goal for my art.

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