Results tagged “celebrity tattoos”

04:24 PM
When I started writing about tattoos and copyright law over a decade ago, I never really imagined just how seriously the rights of tattoo artists would be taken in the legal world and by big business. The issue of "Who owns your tattoo?" seemed to me, in the beginning, to be more like a cool question on one of my old law school exams and not one that has teams of lawyers making policy decisions based on tattoos.  But it now has.

Last August, in my "Tattoo Copyright & Celebrities" post, I wrote about how the issue of copyright ownership concerning tattoos on football players was "a pressing issue" within the NFL Players Association. As this Forbes article notes, "[...] the association advised agents to tell their players that, when they get tattoos going forward, they should get a release from the tattoo artist, and if they can track down their former artists, they should get a release."

That's just what famed tattooed quarterback Colin Kaepernick did. According to the ESPN article "New 'Madden': Deal done in ink," Kaepernick is the first player in the history of Electronic Arts Sports' Madden video game franchise who will have his tattoos featured in a game because he took care of the tattoo copyright issues -- he got written permission to use the tattoo artwork from his tattoo artists.

As ESPN writes:
"We want to be as authentic as possible, so we were pleased that Colin was able to secure the rights to the tattoos," said Seann Graddy, senior producer of "Madden 15," which will hit the shelves on Aug. 26. "There's a ton of buzz around this. In this game, we only have Colin's tattoos, but we'd love to secure the rights to the tattoos of other players in the future."
As the article notes, Kaepernick didn't have too much of a hurdle getting permissions because his extensive tattoo work was done by just two artists, Nes Andrion of Endless Ink in Reno, Nevada, and Orly Locquiao of Humble Beginnings in San Jose, California. However, so many sports figures are scratchpads for a multitude of artists they may not even remember, and so securing rights could be more difficult in those cases.

The issue of tattoo copyright really got people's attention with the infamous Mike Tyson Tattoo Copyright case, which I wrote extensively about here, here, and here.  In that case, the tattooist who tattooed Tyson's facial tattoo, Victor Whitmill, sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement in prominently featuring his tattoo design in The Hangover 2 and its advertising. When the court started taking the tattooist's claims seriously, the case settled, and big businesses and entitles like the NFL also started to take tattoo art seriously.

Yet, as this case with Kaepernick shows, respecting the rights of tattooists doesn't have to be problem; it can be a partnership.
07:09 PM
tattoo copyright.jpg
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you're probably tired of my tattoo copyright posts, but I just had to mention the latest news concerning the issue because it really doesn't sit well with me at all.

Forbes reported that one guy decided he could make money by taking the tattoos of celebrities and putting them on merchandise, so he hit up six tattooers of at least eight athletes, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and purchased exclusive licenses for the "art," including personal, custom work such as Bryant's wife's name, Vanessa, and a tattoo inspired by her hair (shown above).

Legally, I agree that the tattooists have the right to license the tattoo work, without an agreement in which they assign all the rights to the clients. Arguably, both the artist and the client can be joint owners in the tattoo art and would share any profit they make from the artwork, 50/50. I discuss this more in my last post on tattoo copyright and celebrities.

But, outside of the law, this kind of deal seems like a breach of the trust and respect between artist and client. Particularly in Bryant's case, these are works that have individual significance to the collector, a tribute to family and faith, and to commercialize it like this seems, well, gross. Just because it may be legal, doesn't make it right.

When I started writing about tattoo copyright ten years ago, my focus was on protecting artists from companies trying to appropriate tattoo artists' work for merchandise, media, etc, without permission. I had faith that the tattoo industry could police itself when it came to managing the rights to artwork among artists & clients themselves. [For an excellent article on tattoo copyright & self-governing in the tattoo industry, read Aaron Perzanowski's Tattoos & IP Norms.] However, tattoo ethics seem to face a tough fight when business men make big money promises for less-than-stellar artwork.

Maybe clients, especially celebrities, do need to be bringing contracts into their tattoo sessions if they don't want their custom tattoos blasted on hoodies and condom wrappers.
04:02 AM
swayze tribute tattoos.jpg
The tattoo news this week has been a pop culture bonanza. It was all about fashion, celebs and products, and so my review today will be a tattoo tapas of tasty tidbits. It won't fill you up, but you can enjoy a guilty pleasure every now and then.

Let's start with the surreal ...

With Patrick Swayze's passing, comes the birth of Swayze tribute tattoos. Like this Swayze Pour Vida backpiece (above) [via Louise Palanker]. But we all know that nothing will ever come close to the Swayze centaur tattoo. Point. Laugh.

We wouldn't be able to do our internet point-and-laugh thang is we all listened to Kelly Osbourne. Kelly, known for her high style (and sobriety), is telling the world 'Don't get a tattoo." And we agree. Don't get her patchwork of badly thought-out work like the Nicole Richie-inspired mini-angel wings or the I'm-a-musician-so-tattoo-a-keyboard-on-me tattoo. [Thanks David!] I would, however, consider an Ozzy Pour Vida tramp stamp.

For true high style, check the Rodarte tribal inspired collection, which the fab Susanah Breslin was all aTwitter on Tuesday. Backstage turned into a faux tattoo shop with MAC artists creating Polynesian inspired designs on models using body markers.

Grazia mag has the deets: "Eight different half sleeve, four full sleeve and one neck tattoo design were being drawn onto the models with a medical marker (think plastic surgery type pen) a concept MAC are testing out for a body art product, PRO Micronized Airbrush in Black Black and Liquidlast Liner in Point Black." See pics here and here.

military badass.jpgThe Rodarte show was inspired by female warriors of tribal cultures, but check this image (right) of one of our own from[Thanks, Scott!]

Speaking of cheez...Vince Neil of Motley Crue opened his second tattoo shop.

And if that wasn't one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, then Rihanna's tattoo debut was. But the The New York City Department of Health wasn't having it. They fined East Side Ink where Rihanna tattooed several of the shop's employees for "operating with an unlicensed tattoo artist on site." The fine amount could range from $200-$2000.

In North Caroline, a couple of kitchen table scratchers were arrested when a teen they tattooed got a staph infection from bad inking. They are charged with tattooing without a permit and tattooing a juvenile.

If people wanna play tattooist, they should go to Toys R Us, not ebay for starter kits. I've blogged about GR8 TaT2 Maker for years but HuffPost just caught on & listed it under its 7 Most Inappropriate Products for Children. Next to the Pole Dancing doll. [Thanks, Urban Gypsy (NSFW)]

If that didn't leave you feelin dirty, these links will:

And with the image of the beautiful Megan Fox, I'll leave you now and wish you a wonderful weekend.
11:31 PM
jondix tattoo.jpgTons of tattoo stories topped the headlines, and I've trolled through them all to bring ya the good, bad and the whatthefuck.

N+S keeps our focus on stellar tattoo art, like this fresh work from Jondix in Spain (who's part of my upcoming Black Tattoo Art book); however, we will on occasion link to examples of the WTF if only to feel a sense of unbridled tattoo superiority. And so, behold COED Mag's What Were They Thinking gallery.

Many of the tattoos shown are featured the book No Regrets: The Best, Worst, & Most #$%*ing Ridiculous Tattoos Ever but there are some new gems like the Hasselhoff Ode and Chris Farley memorial tattoo. Looking at them, I feel better about myself already. And that is the power of tattoo. [Thanks, Father Panik, for the boobies COED tattoo link.]

UFC's Alan Belcher did not make the WTF list with his deformed Johnny Cash portrait tattoo.

As for the bad ...

I really don't know what's worse: Canada's CTA excessive use of  "tramp stamp" in a removal story (and quoting a doc who says women can't get epidurals because of them -- not true) or starting off the article with reference to some shmuck who wanted a corkscrew tattoo removed from his penis. CTA did get the title right though -- Laser treatment is not quick fix. For stupid.

Then there's this going-to hell-bad: Texas Man Sought for Unpaid Bill for God Tattoo.

And the badass...

yakuza tattoo.jpgBurn Magazine's Eye of the Beholder story/photo by Anton Kusters who is documenting a Yakuza family in Kabukicho, Japan. One of our faves, Susanah Breslin, has been guest blogging for Boing Boing and included this powerful image in her collection of wondrous things.

This one is pretty wondrous to me ... "Man resurrects friend's ashes into tattoo." Granted, this isn't the first time I've heard stories like this but I always get goosebumps at the thought of actually wearing a loved one in my skin. I think it's a beautiful tribute but I wonder if anything else gets carried over in the ash. Just sayin.

In good news ...

Reuters reports that there are less Iraqis getting tattoos used to ID their bodies, and instead are opting for artful ink. In 2005 and 2006, I blogged, on, stories of how many caught in the mission-accomplished zone were getting identifying information tattooed on various limbs in case they were mutilated. One Bagdad tattoo artist said that, while many young men today are coming in for motifs like dragons and tigers instead of their names and addresses, he still keeps a low profile "for fear of being attacked by extremists who see his work as being prohibited by Islam or too Westernized."

A couple seeking to open a tattoo studio in Tempe, Arizona who had their business permit revoked won the right to open up shop, again. The city had appealed a court ruling in favor of the couple but to no avail. When will cities learn to stop wasting money on these suits and allow studios to open, thereby bringing more money into city tax coffers?

In celeb tattoo news ... 

The LA Times reports that High Voltage tattoo, featured on the reality show LA Ink, is now a top tourist destination along with Kim Kardashian's clothing stores and The Hill's hot spots. The article says, "The manager of High Voltage Tattoo estimates that 90% of its customers are fans of the TV show." So I guess that makes only 10% serious tattoo collectors?

I'm no hater, but I'm not lovin the show either, especially after reading in Inked Mag that top tattooists Hannah Aitchison and Kim Saigh won't be returning to the show because of their lack of drama. I prefer my artists drama-free, thanks, and if they have more time for yoga practice before opening up my skin, well, the better. [Although a faux Aitchison/Saigh lesbian relationship would've been a hot episode.]

The new season will get plenty of drama with the addition of Rock of Love hot mess Aubry Fisher.
margaret cho unzipped.jpgBy the way Kim's new Vans are out. Nice.

Also check Margaret Cho's tattoolicious cover for Unzipped [a gay adult industry mag is obvs NSFW]. Her new show Drop Dead Diva premiered this week and is a comedy with body image as its central theme, one not uncommon to heavily tattooed peeps. I loved it.  

Ashley Tisdale got a tattoo. Yeah, I don't care either.

Another autograph tattoo, this time, Paul McCartney. Let it Be Bleed.

Cameron Diaz sports a faux tattoo on V Mag in her tribute cover to Madonna.

And of course ...

More Michael Jackson tribute tattoos.

05:25 PM
tattooed hands.jpg
Tattooed hands by Mark of Swatsika Freakshop featured in my upcoming book on blackwork.

I got a mega-tattoo news review update for ya -- headlines that have a hard time beating the latest memes like the Keyboard Cat, Mother Lover and every girl's fave, the Cuchini -- but with world record battles, gang wars, and hardcore tattoo throwdowns, it's a good fight.

Round one. ding ding.

In a bout between magazine bloggers on tattoo topics, Missbehave slugs it out with their war on gun and brass knuckle tattoos. Blogger Baby Sinead, personally affected by violence, asks women why they would want to glorify it. I get it, girl. Granted, I have more weaponry bling than anyone I know (thanks mostly to Father Panik Industries), but I see it as a nod to my  Brooklyn public high school education in the 80s, pre-metal detector days. I'm not saying I'm badass. I guess I'm saying I'm old.

What is badass is the latest issue of Swedish mag Tare Lugnt inked on skin, not paper. Tare Lugnt is the art fanzine/mag project of Marc Stromberg, a 22-year-old graphic designer in Ume, Sweden. He tells the WSJ about the idea to tattoo this third issue on his leg:

"It seemed like a really untraditional and extreme way to publish the magazine. I think that everyone should explore new mediums, all the time. We should experiment and have the guts to do something that stands out. It would have been boring to do just another magazine on paper. I originally wanted to do a pair of long underwear, with the articles printed on the material, so you could wear them, lie down on the couch and read the magazine off your own legs. It sprung from that idea, taken a little further."

What is not badass: tattooing your 7-year-old with your gang symbol. I wrote about this story a couple of weeks ago, but the cops finally caught the Fresno father, who now faces 40 years to life. The boy's mother was the one who notified the authorities. Police are helping remove the gang graffiti from the child's body.

I fear a similar fate for the child of this couple -- a family portrait more menacing than awkward. [Thanks to Jesper for photo and Sarah for the link].

In consensual tattooing that demands removing ... Mark McGrath's Rolex rib ink. Dumbass, not badass.

And while we're talking asses...  Will embossed bums replace the lipstick kiss on the butt as the latest in cheeky body art? [See more photos of the jeweled panties on Trendhunter.]

Round Two. ding ding.

tattooed skin.jpgIn the fight over which story got the most coverage this week, it's the Christian Science Monitor's recession-proof tattoo article in one corner and the tattooed body suit museum donation in the other.

The CSM article on how tattoo shops have been thriving was syndicated nationwide, but it wasn't just another simple economy story. There are some brilliant quotes on the draw of tattoo art, in good times and in bad.

For example, Kit Yarrow, a business psychologist at Golden Gate University, said that "the allure of tattoos is more apparent in times of recession," adding "Tattoos resonate with how consumers are shopping now. They look for something that reflects their values, a sense of belonging, and permanence."   There's also this great quote from Phuc Tran of Tsunami Tattoo:

"No one feels like a tattoo that they get will be foreclosed on or repossessed. I think that our clients feel like tattoos make them feel better, especially when many other things in the economy and news cycle can be bleak."

But Geoff Hostling of Australia also has been making pretty big headlines worldwide for the past couple of weeks now in donating his tattooed bodysuit to the National Gallery. I mentioned it in last week's review but more info -- like this interview with him -- and new photos of Geoff like the one right above by Getty are regularly surfacing.

Final Round: Who wins in the Battle of the Quick and Dirty Links ...

Special thanks to Scott for many of the links.  Ok, see y'all at the NYC Tattoo Convention tomorrow!
11:00 PM
knuckle tattoos.jpgGot a monster tattoo news update for ya, filled with some old school salty tales, bequeathing tattooed skin, body art and cancer myths, and the usual tattoo law and celeb fodder, but before I do, behold these fabulous photos from Nathan of

Check Nathan's photo essay on, and vote for him (at the end of the essay) to be included in the print pub.

Oh wait! One more order of business please ...

.. you know I love, love, love when you send me links, but please no more to "Hipster Grifter" stories and tattoo photos? Ok, we all giggled at the beard tattoo, but she's not the first tattooed con with a healthy sexual appetite and she won't be the last (Halelujah). I don't know which is worse: her MySpace-posey faces in every blog or all the swine flooziness.

Now onto the serious stuff ...

You CANNOT get cancer from tattoos. Praise the NY Times for putting that health myth to rest. They interviewed Dr. Ariel Olstad who said "the ink is unlikely to do any harm because it is confined to cells in the skin called macrophages, whose job is to absorb foreign material." He did add:
"But people should know that they should always leave a rim of healthy skin around a pre-existing mole."
The reason behind this is because there have been cases where melanomas were overlooked because they came from moles hidden by tattoos. I have a bunch of moles and had no problem working my tattoos around them for this reason. Something to keep in mind, especially if you're super light skinned like me and are prone to melanoma.

Thinking of keeping that healthy skin preserved long after death? A 65-year-old Australian man, Geoff Ostling, who sports a full tattoo bodysuit, has pledged to donate his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra. According to the Daily Telegraph:
"He worked with cult artist eX de Merci over 15 years to tattoo a masterpiece on his body, from neck to ankle, with the theme 'All the flowers of a Sydney garden'.
Sydney taxidermy expert Sascha Smith said it could be a challenge to preserve the tattoos unharmed but the process would be no different to skinning an animal."
Funny, I just was interviewed by Esquire Magazine about donating and selling skin in the US. You can offer to bequeath your skin to an institution -- they may not accept -- but offering to sell it once you're dead, iffy. Plus, it'll end up like some creepy German flick.

Here's an interesting piece on Ed Hardy by Michael Corcoran for the American Statesman. I was initially turned off but the negative, albeit respectful, tone of Corcoran who is trying to educate Texans that Hardy is not just some guy who makes bedazzled tees. The author is not a friend and admits to it but does offer interesting insider tattoo gossip like on the relationship between Ed and Mike Malone:

"The two had their own language, built around countless hours waiting in the scab hut for military payday. If one called the other when business was nonexistent and asked what was up, the answer would be 'just talking to the panthers,' in reference to the black designs on the walls.

A customer who passed out during a tattoo was a mighty hawk. This comes from the time Malone tattooed a rather boastful customer who wanted 'The Mighty Hawk' on his arm. About halfway through the M, the guy got clammy and took a flop. Malone stood over him and said 'Mighty Hawk, get up Mighty Hawk. Are you OK Mighty Hawk?'  Old-line tattooists have hundreds of stories like that."

My major point of contention with the article: it doesn't mention the well publicized law suit alleging that Hardy is not seeing his fair share of the use of his name and artwork. That's all I'll say about that. For now.

And while I'm on it, let's get to some tattoo law news ...

1507434_202916_493e3d3d98_p.jpgA Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that a parolee shouldn't have been kicked out of halfway house for drawing sexy pin-ups for a tattoo. Taxpayer money put to good use! I can't roll my eyes back enough.

Here's an update on the Washington bill to regulate piercing and tattooing:  While the bill has passed, it needs approval by the state's governor. I know some people have this cool anarchist chic thing that makes them not like government regulation of anything, but it's gonna happen. The question is whether it will be on terms designed by people in the tattoo community like Troy Amundson (as with this bill) or you can have the Medical Quality Assurance Commission propose rules that would make body artists guilty of practicing medicine without a license for most procedures.

Wanna make a difference?
Contact Governor Chris Gregoire and voice your support of passing SSB 5391 Tattoo and Piercing Regulations.

Got another update on last week's news:

Remember the Joel Madden tattoo discrimination headlines? Now the British Air employee who made the "rocker" cover his tattoos before boarding the plan is not flying the friendly skies -- a rep for BA said the employee is being reprimanded, adding "we don't understand why the employee took it upon himself to enforce regulations that don't exist." Payback.

 Quick and Dirty Link time:

  • -- TMZ plays Guess the Bad Celeb Tattoo again.
  • -- Pharell is taking care of his old ink with MASSIVE laser removal (check the pix).
  • -- More on laser removal in general.
  • -- Lady Sovereign gets her first tattoo.
  • -- A "most beautiful" math tattoo.
  • -- Another geek tattoo, old school style. [Thanks, Scott!]
  • -- A Wisconsin tattooist tells the Prez his troubles in 2-page letter. Gets note back.
  • -- has a Q&A with Robin Soles of Indian Ink Tattoos in Jackson, MI.
  • -- has a Q&A with Oliver Peck on choosing a tattoo.
  • -- Mister Cartoon preaches to youth to make their own mark.
  • -- ABC News has video of the Fresno Tattoo Convention this past weekend.
  • Wanna share your convention pics? Let me know!
    02:19 PM
    rihanna tattoo.jpg
    The tattoo news this week has no love for the hippies. Guns, gangstas, ghouls topped the headlines with some juicy body art bits so let's get right to it:

    The biggest headline: Rihanna get's a new tattoo -- guns on each side of her rib cage by East Side Ink's Bang Bang. And it turns out it was the tattooist's idea:

    "I'm a big advocate of guns. So I said, 'How about a gun?' I printed out a picture of a gun that I thought would look good, and she loved it. We were thinking of putting it on her finger next to her wrist, or on her shoulders. She loved that, but it took away from her face, and you know, she's a CoverGirl, so we couldn't do that! So we put it under her ribs and she loved it. It took about 15 minutes. She didn't complain while I did the tattoo."

    C'mon, this has nothing to do with wanting to bust a cap in Chris Brown's ass? Bang Bang says the singer stayed quiet:

    "We didn't talk about why she specifically got it. She's a rock. She's just thinking about having a great time now." [Thanks to Jenni for the links!]

    In the best tattoo story written by a business mag: 
      Forbes profiles Paul Booth. And it's not bad. I'm not a fan of "The King of Creepy" headline but the article itself was fairly devoid of the usual cliches, and discussed Booth's other projects including plans for a "dark arts" bed and breakfast, preferably at an old Victorian in the woods. Another cool aspect to the article -- albeit very Forbes-ish -- is the photo gallery of Paul's work, which lists the occupation of the wearer and how much he or she paid for the tattoo.

    Ed Hardy is also featured in a article and podcast centering around his solo exhibition of his original paintings, prints and drawings at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, CA. Hardy's famed "Dragon Scroll" is the show's centerpiece:  a 500-foot-long scroll painting of 2000 dragons in honor of the millennium and Chinese Year of the Dragon. Interestingly, the article says Hardy "distanced himself" from the clothing brand that bears his name [good thing to stay quiet in light of the law suit] but did say "For me not to have to tattoo and to focus the majority of my time on my personal art -- that to me is like my golden retirement." And well deserved.

    Going from the masters to the messes ...

    The biggest tattoo "FAILS": The six pack fail and the spelling fail. [Thanks, Brayden.]

    In fact, there were a number of spelling fails in the news this week, some with nasty consequences like this one: a Connecticut man pulled a gun on his tattoo artist who misspelled a tattoo then refused to fix it.

    Meanwhile, another tattooist who misspelled the name of a couple's son is refusing to fix the mistake, claiming they signed a release. While the release may protect the studio legally, maybe it should take head of the previous story.

    [I just wanna know why the tattooers aren't willing to fix their mistakes, guns and law suit threats aside. What happened to responsibility and just not being an asshole?]

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