Feb 22, 2009

Please Ask Permission

SirGrimm86 (Flickr User), another fan of my "Tribal Tattoo" artwork.

Seems like every three or four months someone takes my artwork and gets it permanently applied to their body. The last time this happened was in October of 2008.

This same modus operandi has been going on now for the last few years. It makes me wonder how many I don't find out about? Normally other people spot it and let me know, but last night while checking web traffic I came across this latest one.

My Original Artwork.

I certainly don't mind people wanting to make a life time commitment to my art like this, that much is very flattering of course and I'm glad they like my work. I'd just rather people ask permission first, and acknowledge that I own the artwork and need to grant them permission to use it before they use it.

Imperial Toy, LLC ripped off my "Tribal Tattoo Face" artwork.

I'm not a jerk, and have only denied someone permission once and that only was due to the fact that I had a copyright lawsuit in progress with a toy company at the time they had asked. (I won that case BTW)

The bat appears within the "Sims 2" universe.

I suppose one could argue that my bat tattoo has now "Jumped the Shark" seeing as it's being ripped off and used to skin people in the virtual world that is "Sims 2." This of course brings up all kinds of interesting copyright issues in and of itself.

Or, maybe I could take a cue and start selling tribal tattoo undies in my Zazzle.com store? Hmmm.

The Bat Signal.

I have to admit, I think tattoos look cool. But I also think they look better on young bodies. I can't argue with the image above at all, but will my art look so good on a 70 year old canvas with sublimated liver spots, and a wrinkled texture running through it?

In any regard, if you're a person looking for a cool tribal tattoo and have Googled your way to this post, then take the time to shoot me an email (See side bar at top right) and ask permission to use my art first.


FYI: For information about my stock tribal designs or to have me create a custom tribal design for you visit VonsterTattoos.com.


fuzzed68 said...

I'm wondering what the ad agency guy in Florida who originally contacted you about the tribal bat thinks about all these other people who are now having HIS design tattooed on their body. I'm sure that when he contacted you part of his reasoning was that he would have something personal and unique. If it were me, I'd be quite peeved about it.

But now that I've read a good chunk of your blog, I want offer up a couple ideas. You've probably already thought of these, but I've not run across them on your blog yet, so here they are:

1) Considering how one of your designs was already stolen by a company to sell as temporary tattoos, why not put out a set of your own temporary tattoos?

2) Obviously your artwork is very popular among the tattoo crowd. Have you considered drawing up some pages of tattoo flash designs to sell to tattoo shops?

And regarding those who have had your work tattooed on them without your permission; If I were you, I think I would reach a point where when I found another who had done it, like in the case of the guy on Flickr, a person that you have an email address or some way to actually contact them, I would be sorely tempted to send them a bill. Or at least a note chastising them for stealing what was an original design created for someone else, someone who actually paid for it, and having it tattooed on their body.

To paraphrase Bugs Bunny, "What a bunch of maroons!"

alx said...

So if they don't ask for permission first, would you sue them into oblivion, forcing them to have it removed?

I don't get the "permission" thing. Personally, I'd be flattered, and just ask people to send in photos. Get over yourself.

Vonster said...


1. I actually offered to create a set for the company that ripped me off as part of the deal to forgive and forget but they were jerks about it so I had to get a copyright lawyer involved.

I'm developing a set of my own that I'll then shop around for a distributor later this year.

2. I have thought about the tattoo pages. The hard part is marketing them to such a niche market. I have some ideas though.

I still think the idea of an artist suing someone who got his art tattooed on their body would make a great episode for a TV law program. (I posted about that in an early blog post)



Vonster said...


Did you actually read the post?

I said I was flattered, but it still doesn't change that fact that people need to ask permission to use another persons art rather than just taking it and using it.

Just had a guy recently ask if he could get a tiger design I did tattooed and I gave him permission. He's sharing photos with me too and it's all good. He did it the right way.

I created the art so legally by default I own the copyright to the art. The original person who paid me to create the bat tattoo paid for my time, not for buyout and ownership of the art BTW.

I expect people to ask me if they can use the art and if it's a reasonable request more than likely I'll grant them usage of it.

The fact they can view it online doesn't mean these rules don't apply, they do. If that annoys you then you have a problem with reality not me.


Lateefx said...

Awesome...you are an inspiration.

vectorbug said...

People who end up with your artwork tattooed on them might not always have the opportunity to do so, or they were lied to by the tattoo artist, or the tattoo artist did not realize where the source was and assumed it had been around for a long time. Your designs are everywhere, Von!

Small fry are always going to be ripping off the great artists, and since they're so unoriginal and unmotivated, they're probably not going to last long anyways, so its best to focus most of your energy on moving on with more new stuff.

As an artist who has put "flash" artwork out there, my advice to you would to just do a sheet of artwork you would be OK with having tattooed without being asked by every single person. Just assume these pieces will get used and be happy that you were able to provide the best possible resolution you could so the tattoo artist takes less liberties that you can't control.

Unfortunately I don't think Zazzle offers prints. But some tattoo oriented artists offer limited edition, signed flash art for sale on their sites, like Mike Giant on his clothing companies site, Rebel8.com.

Just fyi; "flash" art is like royalty free illustrations for tattoo artists.

Tribal art is so ubiqitous and mindless that, most people who are inclined to get a tribal tattoo don't even consider where it came from. I'm not saying YOUR tribal art is mindless, its obvious that you put a lot of work into it (and thats why I like and follow your artwork blog).

Vonster said...


That is an excellent idea. I think I'm going to do that.

Create a FREE to the public flash sheet with a design anyone can use for tattooing.



Aaron Riddle said...

I think the least a person can do is ask permission to use your artwork. It is common courtesy!

Vectorbug - great idea. I would recommend that as well.

Louis said...

Von, if you see one of your tattoos on the wrinkly skin of a 70 year old maybe you can include it in your next Texture Book. You can title the book Wrinkles, Back Fat and Cottage Cheese: Textures of the Flesh - lol

Vonster said...


I nearly spit out my coffee reading that comment! LOL

Too funny.


gabrielm said...

Great post as always. Also very timely since I was considering a tattoo inspired by one of you works.

Would you be insulted if I borrowed your Latin: "partum vel intereo"?


Vonster said...


Thank you for asking and YES you may. If you can share a picture of it once you have it done and it's healed I'd love to see it too.



gabrielm said...

You sir, rock.

I only wish that I could could afford to have you create some custom work for the rest of the design.

Thanks again - and I will be sure to send in a photo after I get the ink.

Melinda Stanley said...

Aaron Riddle is right. It is just "common courtesy".

I feel bad for whoever was the first to commission the bat tattoo. He or she paid money for—what they thought—was an Original Von Glitschka design. It is still original but not unique to his or her body which—by commissioning the design, was the whole idea. And even though they didn't purchase the rights, I'm sure they didn't intend for everyone else to thief the tattoo.

Von, I hope you can get to the bottom of all this. Some people really need to be educated about intellectual property.

Peita said...

So I'm in no way trying to insult you at all, I'm all for copywrite's on artwork etc.

...but that last photo of the girl with the red bikini. Any great artist and graphic artist would know this is not a REAL tattoo on a REAL person. It has been photoshopped?

Supposing the fact that this bikini girl ISNT a royalty free photo:
Did you make this picture yourself? Did you ask the girl in the photo if you could edit her picture and stick your design on it? Did you ask the photographer if you could do this?

All I'm saying is it go's on everywhere. You cant get away from it. I'm saying DEAL with it. Deal with ppl putting tattoo's on their body. They obviosuly like your art enough to do it.

As for the toy companies etc. Sue their arse, as they're claiming it as their own.

Ppl with tattoo's arent.

Vonster said...


I wasn't trying to fool anyone. I mocked up that photo to demonstrate my point that tattoo's look better on "Young" people as opposed to "Old" people.

I don't need to ask permission because I paid for the rights to use the photo via iStockPhoto.com and my usage falls with the rights they grant when you pay to download the image. Nice try though.

I love how everyone seems to be able to think that you can use what ever you want that you find online but the creators who made the art being used "Just need to DEAL with it."

BTW, if you read through all my posts on this matter you would understand the context of my argument. I've never said the problem is people wanting to have my art tattooed on them, my point is they need to ask first.

Pretty simple concept, if it's not your art and you haven't purchased usage rights then you need to ask before you use it. If you can't understand that basic premise then I'm not sure how else to explain it to your satisfaction.


Dan Marek said...

The ironic thing is all the attitude you're getting from other posters when all you're asking for is the least amount of common courtesy.

Elsa said...

I think she is using your bat tribal in her skins that she is selling?
There's even a lin to this: