A few days ago I saw this vlog of well respected tattoo artist Electric Linda, that reminded me of the copyright question: can I get in trouble when I create fan art on a wall?
If you click on the photo, you’ll find a link to the vlog.
Most of the vlog is about the question whether it’s allright to get your tattoo fixed by an artist, other than the one who originally designed the thing. But she also talks about copyright. Because a lot of people want (and get) tattoos of movies or books they love. And obviously these movies or books are copyrighted. I like her answer. I like her saying: “What I make is an interpretation of the original. It is not a copy. Therefore, I don’t think I should be in trouble with any copyrights.”
Whether or not this is true, I decided to find out. So I came across this plagiarism blog.
Turned out Linda was right in not getting in trouble with any copyrights, but unfortunately her argument is not valid. For the big brands don’t see it as an interpretation; they still see it as a copy. That’s flattering, because I actually agree with Linda: When I paint an existing character, I create an interpretation of that character. I can’t make an exact copy of it. I’ll never be able to do that; there always will be some difference. Still ‘they’ see it as a copy, because it is based on their original character.
So; why aren’t we; the tattoo- and mural artists, not in trouble? It is because, with our work, we promote the brand. We don’t create a replacement of the original: we don’t take away sales of the original work, and it is too expensive to sue us. Besides; it will hurt the brand’s reputation if it sues a fan. And; a mural and a tattoo are obviously not pretending to be ‘original’, because; IF a creator of fan art is sued, it is because he/she claimed to sell an original. And there’s no way anyone will think the tattoo- or mural artist created an original. At least,… ehm; Nope,.. I don’t think so.
Below you see two fan art murals I created. Dobby and Ozzy. Do you think I am trying to sell originals when I paint these?