Tattoo Plagiarism

Hey! Brandon Swartz of Inflictions in Covina, California, you owe Tim Kern (and Amina Munster) a serious apology. If this was 1989, your shop would be burned to the ground. Lucky for you, it’s 2005, and all you’ve lost is the respect of your peers.


Original by Tim Kern

Copy by Brandon Swartz

Seriously, taking someone’s custom tattoo and copying it isn’t a compliment. It’s theft and abuse of something really personal, a kind of emotional rape that’s utterly unacceptable. Not cool at all.

Previously: Pirate Tattoos

This entry was posted in ModBlog and tagged , , , by Shannon Larratt. Bookmark the permalink.

About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

34 thoughts on “Tattoo Plagiarism

  1. this guy has no skills if he has to steal someone else’s ideas and try to put them off as his own. anyone can steal an idea and switch it up a little but that still does not make it right. This guy is not an artist he is a slimeball

  2. Bitch bitch bitch. It’s not even identical to the other one. If you put art up online you take the risk of it getting ripped off. Don’t like it; take your crap down.
    Doesn’t anyone hold themselves responsible anymore?

  3. it may not be identicle but it’s still theft. and i’m pretty sure that the ones who mention things like “you risk having your tattoo ripped off” would be just as pissed if something they posted and was original was seen on someone else’s body. . .i’m just sayin’

  4. it’s an original piece and for someone to take it is shit. amina is a model and just cant take the pictures of her chest piece down. it’s all a matter of respect.

  5. What’s the old saying? “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. The piece WAS slightly modified from the original & is not an exact copy.

    I would think a tattoo artist would feel honored that his/her original piece of art was admired by others enough that they would want this art embalzoned on their skin also.

    Soon we’re going to see royalty taxes on tattoos. Kind of like how television/movie productions have to pay royalty fees to license music for their shows.

    Yeesh!

  6. Hi, I understand some folks do not want their work copied but if you look at his tattoo is is changed up some what, he added a chain and the handle on the knife on the right and some other small changes. Even you said in your article that if someone comes to you with a mag picture you will not make it exact but will make some changes to it so it is not an exact copy. So he did! Its a tattoo so get a life! I would more understand if it was a photo of someone in your family or a family crest but it is blood, skull and knifes. Real waste of your money in haveing the copy write done when thousands of folks can still use it and you will never know.

  7. OH, For the Gods sakes. What a SELF-RIGHTEOUS ASS you are!
    “You’re shop would be burned to the ground”. So you’re encouraging arson for this? Why not DEATH?!!!

    (whiny voice) “It’s EMOTIONAL RAPE!” Jeez, for such a pain piglet, you sure do whine alot. Save the drama fo yo Mama, CHILD!

    Get this and get it good! A skull and bloody blades is an ICONIC SYMBOL! No one can call it their own. (except maybe Disney now) And it’s a CLASSIC PHRASE that goes so far back as to pre-date “Treasure Island” (1883) It’s not so much a quote as a truism, at least until forensic science came along.

    How many service men have gotten an eagle clutching “Old GLory” on their chest? How many homeboys have Jesus on the cross on their backs? And when you go to a parlor and point to some flash on the wall, does the artist tear it up after so no one else can get it?

    If Brandon Schwartz owes an apology than so do you, Shannon. (ain’t that a GIRLS name?) You’re no better than those mean, self-righteous gay assholes that went around outing other gays who weren’t ready to come out, because they somehow rationalized their own ARROGANT justifications. Thankfully, the larger community as a whole finally turned against these self-styled “outers” and “outed” them as the ROYAL JERKS they were/are. Now you’re one of them. Mr. Schwartz, and the fellow pictured, might have a good LIBEL case against YOU! Do we know if this alledged copy was deliberate? Even if it was requested, it’s been changed enough. OR DOES AMINA HAVE A TRADEMARK ON SKULLS AND DAGGERS AND “DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES”?!!! Does she feel “raped”, or just YOU?

    And just what do you do at a party when you see someone else wearing the SAME DRESS AS YOU? I bet you scratch their eyes out! MEE-OW! (methinks the lady doth protest too much:-D

    They are NOT identical and in this world of 6 billion+ cancer cells called human beings, the best you can hope for is a little uniqueness, like a snowflake or a fingerprint. (and even those probably have some doppelgangers out there.) It’s like the old philosopical joke; with an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters, one of them is bound to crank out “Hamlet”.

    Stop being such a “faschionista” before all those sailors with anchors, or “MOM” on their arms come and kick your ass. Sailor Jerry would be disgusted by your tantrums, little boy. Now stop being so mean and self-righteous. You ain’t the TATTOO POLICE. Moral indignation is for those Xtian hypocrites that say you’re Satan’s finger puppet. (guess which finger, guess which hole?) Don’t be like them.

    Some perspective from one older and wiser than you. And don’t say I just don’t get it. I DO. I really do. And after awhile, maybe you will too. No one likes a Zealot.

  8. I have to gently agree with Payan on this. Art will be copied! Both pieces are very attractive and well done- to say that the artist that “ripped it off” is a slimeball and not a good artist at all is a travisty. OK, so he made a bad judgement call on posting it on his website and copying a model. I believe he knows this now. That does not make him a bad artist or a criminal. While I do understand both sides as a tattoo artist and massive ink recipient myself, I think the reaction is sort of, er, ……rediculous. Seriously. Don’t get self-riteous and loose site of the LOVE OF THE ART!!! He should apologize, she should accept it, and we all should MOVE ON!!!

  9. Payan…This is NOT just a case of a tattoo done in the same style and message…look at the damn thing and compare…they are very nearly identical down to the shading on the cutlass!! Way too close to just be coincidence. This is straight up plagiarism at its worst!

  10. As an artist people should know that their art will be copied in some form or fashion. Look at paintings… they have been copied for years! Now lets look at automotive logos, band names, beer labels, etc… Google a specific brand name with the word “tattoo” behind it and you will find someone that has “Budweiser” tattooed on their arm, chest, leg, ass etc… Is that copying? YES! Do you bitch about that? NO! Why not? Everyone is complaining about someone copying a very nice piece of work, noone is actually realizing that the copied piece is being done just as good. Both pieces are beautiful and have a lot of talent behind them. Now, if you want to complain or “WHINE” about it, than start emailing all those major companies and tell them how butt hurt you are over people getting “Cadillac” tattooed down their arms!!!! Because those are also “ORIGINALS” or “CUSTOM.” Create your own work, post it on the internet, and let others enjoy how great of an artist you really are. BUT THEY WILL COPY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Yea, I have to credit the points made by payton. Put your pride aside and look at the bigger issue here. Did you know that the song Happy Birthday is copyrighted? Time Warner owns that song the same way Donald Trump ownes “you’re fired”. Grow the fuck up! Do you know how many people are on this Earth? There IS NO SUCH THING AS ORIGINALITY, sorry to break it to you, but Payton is right, they are iconic symbols and people should be welcome to copy them if they want. Fuck, you people crucifying the poor guy are the ones who owe appologies. You say “Is nothing Sacrid?” and I retort with the same question, what kind of world would we live in if we enforced every copyright, and impossed them with tattoos? Who is liable, the artist or the person who has it FOREVER ETCHED IN THEIR SKIN? What are you going to do, take them to court and fine them? The dude can’t just take it down like a painting or wash it off. Maybe he just brought the artist a picture and said I want this. The artist shouldn’t be liable – what he’s going to do, turn down business?
    Stop being such god damn fundamentalist! If you really enjoy tattoos and tattooed people, LIVE AND LET LIVE – isn’t that one of the things that is so great about sub-culture anyway?Besides – who are you to say what should and shouldn’t be allowed – the point is we should allow people to make decisions for themselves, maybe this world would be a better place to live in if we didn’t make so many rules/laws that tell people what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their bodies!

  12. You take the risk (when posting pictures of your ink) on the internet of someone stealing it. But also that piece symbolizes something to Amina and it was stolen. I have all my tattoos custom drawn by a close relative. If anyone stole my pieces for thier own, i wouldn’t be flattered what so ever. Alot of effort, time and thought goes in to a tattoo. I would hate to see one of my pieces being flaunted by someone else while they call it they’re own. I would probably do the same thing. Tattoos are for life. It takes away the meaning and the “uniqueness” (‘scuse my english) when 3 other people have the same thing. Un-originality at it’s best, sadly.

  13. I agree with Payan, Boo Fukn Hoo, how many people u think get “pay up sucker” on there hand?? u c Jesse James in a magazine crying about that shit? don’t blam the artist!!!!

  14. Hey girlie, I feel for your initial shock. One of my custon pieces was also copied. Mine was copied exactly, and also put in the same place. My first reaction was absolute horror, and pissed. This asshole used my copied tattoo in their advertisement that came to my shop. The NERVE. Over time I learned to accept it, and realized that all the bitterness that I was feeling I was feeling alone, while the fags that copied it went on about their lives unaffected in complete oblivion and I just stewed. Well as it turns out, none of it was worth my time or aggrevation, and now I simply just don’t care. Simply put, don’t put something out there for consumption unless you first understand that it will be consumed.

  15. I’M A LITTLE CONFUSED WHY SHANNON LARRATT LOOKS LIKE THE SAME GUY GETTIN TATTOOED BY BRANDON? AND IF SO, WHY IS HE POSTING THIS? IS HE AGREEING WITH THE PEGLEG OR IS HE RELAYING WHAT SHE SAID? I KNOW BRANDON PERSONALLY AND HE’S A FUCKIN STAND UP MOFO! AND FOR A BUNCH OF FOLKS TO TALK SHIT AND DOUBT HIS SKILLZ BECAUSE THE GUY IN THE PICTURE WANTED SOME BITCH’S TATTOO IS A FUCKIN SHAME. BRANDON HAS GIVIN ME SOME OF THE BEST WORK I’VE EVER SEEN, AND EVERYONE I COME INTO CONTACT WITH EITHER ADMIRES, OR WANTS A FUCKIN APPOINTMENT. EVERY TATTOO HE’S DONE FOR ME WAS ARTWORK I BROUGHT HIM. DO YOU THINK HE KNOWS OR CARES WERE IT CAME FROM? THE PERSON GETTING THE TATTOO IS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHERE THE ARTWORK COMES FROM AND WHO THEY ARE RIPPING OFF, NOT ALWAYS THE TATTOO ARTIST. WHEN HE DID THE DUDE’S TATTOO HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT BITCH EXISTED. SO WHAT, THAT MAKES BRANDON A SLIMBALL??????? DO YOU THINK TATTOO ARTIST HAVE THE TIME TO FUCKIN RESEARCH EVERY PIECE OF ART THAT WALKS THROUGH THE DOOR? COME ON NOW. IF YOU ASK ME, BRANDON DID A WAY BETTER JOB TOO!!!! MAYBE THAT’S WHY THAT BITCH’S ORTHOPEDIC PANTIES ARE IN A BUNCH! AS FAR AS THE EMPTY THREAT OF 1989, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?? I’D WATCH THAT SHIT!! BOTTOM LINE, BRANDON IS A GREAT TATTOO ARTIST AND I HOPE PEOPLE DON’T HOLD A FEW IGNORANT PEOPLE’S OPINIONS AGAINST HIM. EVERY ARTIST HAS RIPPED SOMEONE OFF AT SOMETIME, WHETHER IT’S AN INFLUENCE OR A STYLE. JUST NOT EVERYONES SHIT IS ON THE NET. SO I’VE SAID MY PIECE TO DEFEND MY FRIEND’S CHARACTER. NEXT TIME GET ALL THE FACTS BEFORE YOU TRY TO CALL SOMEONE OUT………………………………………………..oh yeah, you got served!!!!

  16. Brandon is an amazing artist, and in his defense how many people walk into tattoo shops wanting some gay flash art that is on the wall??? So this girl is saying that her tattoo artist has never taken inspiration or copied another persons artwork in one of his tattoos?! Highly unlikely. If a customer is paying good money to get whatevver he/ she wants then of course the artist is going to do that….and copyright law says that you only have to change a piece of artwork 10% to make it your own. Obviously this is changed a hell of a lot more and the tattoo looks even better. So all you whining little bitches wah wah they copied this bitch….fuck off. Brandon is amazing and I wouldn’t ever go to anyone else.

  17. Am I the only one who like Brandon Swartz’ work better than the “original”? Cuz Blood and daggers are sooo original. :-S

  18. If apologies are owed then personally both are going to have to give a big one to Disney for jackin the skull-n-swords with the phrase “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, it’s the damn talking skull over the archway before you take the first drop on the ride…

  19. come on now..
    people keep getting the same shit tattooed on them. how many times can an idea that is so typical be drawn different and tattooed. for instance this tattoo looks similar but from what i can see its alot different.

  20. On the defense of both,
    Brandon’s only looks better due to more intense lighting and the fact that its fresh in the pic. You can’t just show a raw and a healed pic and compare the two. He also adjusted the skull to 3/4 view and used his own concept in the coloring and even added a thing or two. You have no idea of the difficulty in creating a good piece of artwork that simply doesn’t appeal to your mind’s eye enough. AND did you ever even think that Brandon’s client brought him your very picture for comparison? Pics of others’ tattoos are taken from the internet and brought into shops quite often.

  21. Talking about originality, the tattoo is ment to mean something to yourself, it shouldn’t matter if a thousand other peeps had the exact same thing tattooed on them, that doesn’t take away the meaning it holds to YOU (or what it holds to THEM). The tattoo should be something YOU like and f*** everything else. When I get a tattoo, I don’t care if other people have the same picture (stars, cherries, birds, other non-original themes and pictures), I take the tattoo for myself and not care about other people.

    And talking about brand name tattoos, I just saw tattoos that were miniatures of famous paintings, such as Picasso’s, some of those were actually on this site. Why not complain about them, they most certainly are not original ideas!

  22. isn’t it better to copy a custom tattoo than to pick one out of that stupid book of standard tribals and crap? i should mention that i despise copying, ever since i was a little girl and saw a boy in my class blatantly staring at a drawing of mine on the wall and copying it (the funny thing is that it was a way of drawing a ghost that i myself had copied from a book!) anyway, i’ve seen some great tattoo ideas here and even had the urge to get some of them — if they, in addition to looking cool, strike a chord with me on a personal level. now you’re making me feel like a bastard about it by calling me an emotional rapist. >:(

  23. I bet the first guy to get a spiderweb on his elbow is pretty pissed at the tattoo world right now, same for the first guy/girl to get stars on her hipbones/shoulders

  24. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » Another case of BLATANT tattoo thievery

  25. I will never understand the thing with this post..
    So after the first girl (by first I mean the girl in a long line of the same design on her chest) got the tattoo, no one else should be able to get a skull, swords, blood, and the text “dead men tell no tales” on their chest becous then it’s copying? I mean come on, pirates are popular, there are probleby atleast 50 people in the world with a pretty exact replica of that tattoo.

  26. patrik your an idoit cba 2 explain y ether but if u want a tim kern tattoo get tattooed by tim kern

  27. If people didnt rip other people’s work off, music today wouldn’t exist.
    It makes the world go round. It’s different enough.

  28. People are seriously over-reacting….first of all, it’s not exactly a very original design–a pirate skull with pirate swords and a pirate quote? I’m sure she’s not the first. Secondly, he did change the imagery. Stop giving the artist so much crap about being “talentless” and a “slimeball”–as a tattoo artist myself, I can’t count how many times people have come in wanting the exact same stupid tattoo that they found on the internet, and you DO IT because it’s what the customer wants. Of course you can change it up a bit, but ultimately this falls back on the client, not the artist.

    Girl, why don’t you just be flattered that someone loved your concept enough to want it on their own body? Get over yourself. If you put something on the Internet, guess what? Millions of people are going to see it and do whatever they want with it. Do you really think a copyright’s going to stop anyone?

  29. I know this is a very old thread, but I remember hearing about this back when it was fresh, and quite by accident I stumbled upon this blog today, and felt the need to add in a comment. I was 15 in 1989 so I am probably not completely privy to the tattoo shop politics of that time, and I certainly could not give you an accurate number on how many shops burned that year… but I do remember a few things about 1989: #1 chicks were not taken seriously as tattoo artists and you could probably have counted the total number of serious female tattooers on one hand. I highly doubt that any of the shops that burned that year, were over some chick getting her panties in a wad over a Pirate tattoo. #2 Someone could be fired from their job if their employer just suspected that they were gay #3 those people that OJ Simpson killed were still alive… Ok, heavy, untreated ADHD caused me to lose track of my original thought. My point is that Harkening back to the “good ole days” of 1989 seems far fetched, at the very least. I also read a follow up to this blog where Amina is quoted as saying that Brandon called her and “tried to flatter her” by admitting that Tim Kern is a better artist than he is. With all due respect to Ms. Munster, that sounds like he was trying to flatter Tim Kern. Nobody cares about your bunched up panties, and your peg leg doesn’t give you ownership of pirate slogans. This shit is between Tim and Brandon (and back in 1989 you would not have mattered – and still don’t in my opinion, in terms of who may have stolen something). Back in 1989 Tim’s boss would have talked to Brandon’s boss, then Brandon and Tim would either been pissed at each other, or they would have squashed it. in 1989 you don’t even get a phone call from Brandon, and the fact that he even did this in 2006 or whenever this shit happened, shows that he has character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>