June 21st, 2007

Tattoo commissions

I’ve been chewing on the idea of getting a tattoo for quite some time now, and after hearing my best friend got one done, I’ve decided to finally go for it myself. I’m not entirely sure what I want my first to be of, but all of my ideas involve trademarked characters. The problem is I want my tattoo to be unique, and the only way for that to happen is to have it drawn specifically for me, so I’d have to commission someone. And, last I heard, paying someone to draw other people’s characters isn’t legal. And while I know this doesn’t bother some artists, I’d like to keep my hands clean, especially since I want to work as a pro someday and who knows if that can come back and bite me.

However I was wondering if there were different rules for tattoos, since tattoo artists themselves are basically being paid to draw someone else’s character occasionally, like when they take a famous picture of a video game character and use that. So I didn’t know if the copyright law applied to tattoos. I’m assuming there is no difference, and this is just a shot in the dark, but I thought I’d ask because my options are limited. I can’t draw it myself, because a few years down the road I’ll (hopefully) be a better artist and be stuck with an old, flawed piece of art on my body, permanently. I toyed with having a contest, but that’s not guaranteed good results. So, I just wanted to know if there was a legal way I could get this done without having to track down Konami, Disney, DC comics, and whoever else it is that owns these characters I want done for permission.

Edit: Since some people were raising concerns, I wanted to clarify. Believe me, when/if I get this tattoo, it's going to be very well thought out. It took me quite a while to get my first lip piercing just because I wanted to wait until the right time. This isn't something I'm going into blindly, although I do appreciate the concern.

Again, the only reason I don't want to draw this myself is because I'm pretty hard on my old artwork (aren't we all?) and I'd rather trust someone else I know can get it right, so I don't look back on it years from now and think, "What terrible anatomy!", etc...

And just as an FYI, I've been considering getting a Lion King tattoo. It's been my favorite movie since it's been out (what, 13 years now?) so I don't think that's going to go changing anytime soon, and it's not like I'm not personally involved with these characters. It's always been an important movie to me in many regards, I don't think it's ever not going to be relevant to me.

Yeah, so, hopefully that addresses some of your questions. Thanks everyone.