Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ripped, the FUCK off.

And I aint happy about it!
Over the last several years, I've published several books of my art, and tattoo work. Also over the many, many years of my tattoo career, i've had my work published in countless magazines, and art/tattoo publications. Now does all this advertisement, and self publication mean that everything I've done is up for grabs? That all the work that I've allowed to be published, wether it be in books, magazines, and on the web, is free far all those free loading, non thinking, unoriginal, Lazy, dumb ass artists, to just take, and do with what they want? I think not!
Now, for all of those individual tattooers (and the majority of this rant is directed at you all) out there who don't seem to know the rules (and there seems to be a shit ton of you out there), here they are. You "DO NOT, TAKE ANOTHER TATTOOISTS ORIGINAL TATTOOS. AND REPRODUCE THE WORK ON YOUR CLIENTS! This means, if a client of yours comes to you with a piece out of a magazine, or a print off of the internet, and says, "I really dig this, can you do it?" Your response should be "NO"!
This is a rule that I was taught, and have followed in my Near 19 years of tattooing! Its also a rule that as an artist, I find just makes sense! I wish to be the best at what I do! And that means working my ass off, every day, and for every tattoo, or painting that I do. Which means drawing, and creating my own style.
I do realize how difficult being an artist is. And I do realize that a lot of the tattooists out there, are young, and very influenced by the work they see on a daily basis. Hell, Even IM insanely interested in all of the work being tattooed today. IM blown away by the talent of some of these your guns coming out of the woodwork, of todays tattoo trade! But I've always strived to never let it sway what it is that I want to do. What it is that IM trying to create! And I would never cheapen another artists clients by ripping off an original idea. An original piece of artwork created just for them. Just so that I can say that I was able to do what another tattooist already did! Its ignorant, and lazy!
Being a great tattooist is not about doing what the status quo is able to pull off. Its about doing a great tattoo, and making your own freakin mark in this trade! But please also consider the lowly "Flash, Street shop" Artist. Hell this is a trade that seems to all but been forgotten. When I first started tattooing, all the other guys in the shop loved reproducing the art on the walls. There was a ton of it out there, and oh so many great artists that created it. And all of the flash was made to reproduce as much as you wanted. To me the biggest shame of todays young tattoo culture, is that the flash artist seems to be all but forgotten. No one wants to create flash, and God forbid there asked to do it on a client.
Trust me when I say this. That many of todays "younger" tattooists would greatly benefit form working in a street shop. And would, and SHOULD put there pencils down, and use tattoo flash for what it was meant for. To reproduce on your clients. Spend more time drawing in your sketch books, and less time trying to talk your clients into getting what you want to do, and what you've drawn. It aint always the best for you, or your clients.
I know that this sounds like a swift kick in the balls to all these young tattooists out there trying to make there marks. But trust me it is not my intention. IM just trying to make the point that getting to the top, and getting the recognition you want, is a journey. And you will only hurt your career by taking the low road.
There really is so much more that I want to say. And im certain that as the days go by, this is a subject that I will touch on more, and more. But for now, I think i've said quite enough.
Feel free to add your own thoughts, and by all means feel free to contact me with your thoughts. Just be prepared for the truth from me. IM not one who's found myself where I am today, by sugar coating and blowing smoke!


  1. I think its a question of understanding,respect and experience. No one of young tattooists get respect taking somebody else's flashes. And those have no right be called artists.So,I share your opinion on it

  2. The way I see it, if you are influenced or inspired by an artist who has paid their dues, use that inspiration to create your own stuff. DO NOT just bite their stuff and call it "your's". This does not pay any sort of homage to the guys and gals you are "looking up to" in this industry. I get inspired every single day, whether it be by something on the internet, in a magazine, or even right in the shop I work at. I just think people need to use that inspiration to create, not to just reproduce.

    Just my 2 cents.... Great post Joe.

  3. You've got every right to be pissed. Especially since you worked your ass off to get where you are. I've heard a bunch of times that art theft is a compliment. It's hard to see it that way when you are the victim. Unfortunately it's never going to stop. Tattooing has become such a huge part of our culture that anyone who thinks they can draw a few graffiti tags is completely capable of tattooing. When they soon realize they don't have any artistic abilities of their own, instead of working at it and practicing, they take the easy way out, steal someone's work, do a half ass job of it and call it their own. The best is when these people post images of these wreckages online and think no one will find out. Keep your head up high, you are at a level that these low life's can't reach.

  4. Well put sir, well put!!
    Enough said!

  5. And from the other side of the equation; If I take the time and effort of picking out the best tattooist for what I want done, and then have the inevitable wait (cos the good guys always seem to be booked up for months), I don't want to see my unique tattoo shittily replicated on someone else by someone else.
    It's MINE goddamn it! Come up with your own bloody idea! I'd say name and shame anyone you find doing this, but you'd just be giving the fuckers exposure...

  6. ...and later that same day this happened. I saw one of the custom pieces that I had done for the London convention ripped off on Instagram. I called the guy out on it and got this reply in a mail a few minutes after:
    "The darkthrone price ripped off from your flash, was done by a friend of mine Chris Stuart on my buddy. It wasn't meant to disrespect you. I was there when he was drawing up the stencil and he kept begging my bud to change it a little at least"
    Not good enough.

  7. In my opinion, EVERY artist should make an effort to change and make it their own when someone comes in with another artist's work and says “I want this exactly“. Not only because it will be better for the artist to put themselves into the piece, but chances are good that they will just end up misrepresenting and doing a piss poor job recreating the original piece.

    It's all about respect. If an artist had no class to say, “hey I'm going to change this up and redraw it a bit”, then they don't respect the original artist. To me, being influenced by an artist, or using their sketch books for inspiration and reference is fine, but once you cross that line and begin to just copy their stuff, you've gone too far.

    What are your thoughts on someone tattooing out of a book of flash created by an artist? Like Tim Beck and Tilt put out books of flash... Do you think that is pilfering? Or using it as intended?