Biting Tattoos

I know that whenever a tattoo gets published either in print or online, there is a chance that it is going to be copied. I understand this. Still, it is frustrating to see work that was custom made for one individual placed on another.

This is a tattoo that I did many years ago. I have had innumerable inquiries from people looking to have the same tattoo done or asking me if they can buy the stencil. I have consistently refused since the tattoo was done to very exact specifications for the client. Today this tattoo was brought to my attention:

I don’t even know how I am supposed to feel about it. I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – but come on. The hanged men represented something really specific to the guy wearing the original tattoo – the people who I have personally talked to about copying it just thought they looked cool. I wonder if this person even wondered what they were there to represent?

Most of the time when someone steals a tattoo the saving grace that we have is that they are a hack. Normally it is only new artists or artists with no scruples who copy other artists work. This one was actually pretty well done.

Is the economy that bad that we are reduced to stealing one another’s custom work? Or did the other artist not realize this was a custom tattoo? I guess these are questions that I will never know the answers to.

When I have some time I will gather together some copies of some of my more stolen tattoos to accompany this one.


This one I did some time in the early to mid nineties. It has been duplicated so many times that I am convinced that it has to be on a flash sheet somewhere.

and a couple of the ones that I found doing a google image search:


And this one which I have seen done several times more recently.

My version And one of the ones that a client found online and mailed to me:


I found another one today. Here is the tattoo that I did:
and here is the one that I stumbled across online this morning:


Another update. December 2011. Apparently for some “artists” taking someone elses custom tattoo and duplicating it on your client is just TOO much work. So this guy didn’t bother. He just took my photo and posted it in his portfolio as an “in progress” custom piece.

Facebook made him take it down so I have blocked out his name.

~ by justteejay on December 16, 2009.

4 Responses to “Biting Tattoos”

  1. When I had my custom tats done I never expected I might see it on someone else at a later date. Every customer has the right to expect when he or she pays for the design on the stencil it becomes thier property. No one else outside of a handfull of people would ever know it is on someone else. When a customer presents his ideas for a stencil design to you if you havent seen it before you might just say cool, let’s get er done. Only a low life would copy anothers work, there will always be trashy people. They don’t count in the bug sceme of things.
    Your work is beautiful! S

  2. Your tattos are so much better than the imposters. They suck! Do you know who it was?

  3. Recently a client asked me this on facebook:

    “I have a question for you and others in your profession. Now I know both suck, but which pisses you off more. 1. Someone hijacks a photo of a custom piece you did, and then it gets done on someone else well; or 2. someone steals your art and someone now sports a god awful ass ugly tattoo based on your vision?”

    My response to her was:

    “For myself, it is definitely worse when someone steals a copy of one of my tattoos and does it well on someone else.
    Because when it is a poorly done knock off I presume that the person who did it is either a new artist who doesn’t know any better or someone who is so hard up for work that they can’t tell a client no they won’t copy another artist’s design. Also if the client is going to someone who is a bad artist AND has no morals – they kind of deserve a poorly done crappy copy to wear on themselves.
    When the copy is done well, then I figure the artist knew better and did it anyhow. Then both the original client is violated by having a copy of their original vision on someone else… and the copy client is denied the opportunity of wearing a unique vision from someone who was probably competent enough to have created one. Everyone loses.”

    Please don’t steal other people’s art.

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