Followup: Tattoo Theft

Recently we mentioned how Amina Munster had her tattoo ripped off by tattoo “artist” Brandon Swartz. She updates us on how he responded to being asked for an apology on her page:

"When I called Inflictions to speak civilly with Brandon Swartz concerning the matter I was mocked and laughed at by the employees of Inflictions who stated that I would just humiliate myself as the public would find my actions frivolous. Later in the night I received a call from a tattoo artist of mine concerning the welfare of his friend... Brandon personally requested that this man contact me concerning the matters. This was followed by a call from Brandon Swartz who indeed confirmed that he was aware the tattoo had previously been tattooed on flesh. The patron had brought in a photo of me wearing my tattoo, [and] the rip off was produced from it. Swartz acknowledged that he knew who [Tim Kern] had tattooed the original piece while trying to flatter me by stating that Tim is such a better artist than he — maybe because Tim is able to draw his own tattoos?"

"When I spoke with Brandon Swartz I ultimately decided that I would put the matters to rest if I received an email (not phone or address) contact of the man depicted in the photograph as well as a written apology from Swartz. Swartz then claimed that I was asking for TOO MUCH."

"Brandon Swartz threatened me stating that 'All artists would hate me'. This, though not true, would not bother me as all of my artists are good friends and men of respect, none of them are scratchers like Brandon Swartz."

"Swartz also claimed that Steve Potts (Owner of both Inflictions shops and Swartz's boss) is good friends with Paul Booth (Tim Kern's boss), and this matter could jeopardize Tim Kern's job. It is common knowledge that Paul Booth himself has had a tattoo of his own illegally reproduced on the skull of another man, I highly doubt that Paul Booth would ever side with the Artist who illegally reproduced the image. In fact I would think that Paul Booth would want to see some precedent set in these matters."

As a side note, it’s been pointed out that Brandon Swartz doesn’t understand cross contamination issues since he’s not using any barrier film on his machine or clip cord on the photos of him tattooing. So not only is he a thief, but he’s also potentially endangering the lives of his clients…

We also recently covered tattoo theft by King of Kings in the Europe, a shop with a bad reputation for stealing other artists work, claiming it as their own, and then stalling on even removing the photos from their website — as recently also noted in Needled. Anyway, ModBlog writer Rebekah drops Han a line to see what he had to say:

To: King of Kings Tattoo

A lady in Canada is very distraught after having seen a photo of her tattoo on your web site. She is upset because you didn’t tattoo her; Cory Ferguson did. There is no doubt that the tattoos are identical. Cory’s art came first, which makes yours the copy… which you seem to be passing off as your own original work.

I’m curious as to your side… I’d love to know what your excuse is.

As I’m sure will come as no surprise, his reply contained only two words:

From: King of Kings Tattoo


Well, at least this is creating a useful list of shops to avoid.

6 thoughts on “Followup: Tattoo Theft

  1. Maybe Amina Munster should write an aplogy to Disney since they own the rights to her tattoo. “A dead man tells no tale” is copyrighted by Disney and has been for over 20 years since the ride Pirates opened. Brandon Swartz did nothing wrong as I am sure everyday people go into tattoo shops asking for a tattoo similiar to something they saw on someone else. So instead of crying and whinning and trying to slander someone else, maybe she should go write a letter to Disney and talk with them.

    And just an FYI- a “Scratcher” is someone who tattoos out of their houses. Instead of trying to drop names and terms maybe she should focus on herself instead of others.

  2. Disney owns the right to the phrase that’s actually on her chest? i.e. Dead Men Tell No Tales. Really?

    That’s funny, there were several movies, one made as early as 1939, with that same name that had nothing to do with Disney at all. There is also a book with that exact phrase in it’s title published in 1899 by E.W. Hornung that seems to be in the public domain now. And by all reports the phrase was first written in an American publication in 1797 in a book called Porcupine’s Works. And the phrase is said to derive from the proverb “”The dead cannot reveal any secrets.” by Thomas Becon (c. 1560)

    Google is your friend.

  3. Regarding the Amina Munster tattoo rip-off,
    How can you suggest Brandon Swartz is a scratcher?!
    That is just not right, Criticism of Brandon Swartz ability as a tattooer is childish, slanderous and should not be commented on by someone who knows nothing about what makes a good tattoo.
    It is like me suggesting Amina Munster is a whore for what she does (which I am not)
    That is simply not true and could ruin his career,

    Yes the tattoo was re-produced, (very well) but you must realise how many pirate chest pieces are going around-just like girls with hearts and wings or the good old swallows on their chests.
    If you were to brainstorm the idea of a pirate tattoo im sure you would come up with the classic imagery-Skull & bones? no wait skull & cutlass?? perhaps.

    Copyright on tattoos is ridiculous and websites like this provide fertile ground for the copycat tattooer.
    Amina Munster is not the first person to have a pirate chest piece and
    does not deserve an apology from anyone-who does she think she is?! If you are to flaunt your tattoos on the internet you have to accept that there will be some un-imaginative people willing to copy it.

  4. In response to Jersey; a Scratcher is someone without skill not someone who tattoos out of their house, and the Disney reference is just plain stupid. And in response to Kris, I have to agree that Brandon Swartz is not a scratcher but rather a very unimaginitive technician. There is a line to be drawn as far as intellectual and artistic property are concerned, and Mr. Swartz obviously crossed it. The action of willingly copying something in this day and age of technology is absolutely indefensable. Magazines and such are ment to be used as reference, they are not free flash to be plagerized. An honorable artist who was confident in their creativity would never put their hand to such an endeavor. The tattoo community is actually very small and acts like this are professional suicide even if only the only folks to take notice are ones peers.

  5. Just a note: Phrases cannot be copyrighted. They can, however, be trademarked.

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