In response to my Hearltess crest tattoo design, Biorequiem reader Alyssa asks:

As a huge (silent, lurking type) fan of your various artistic endeavors, this is really astounding for me. How do you feel about people other than the commissioner having your work tattooed on them?

A timely question! Since I’ve been on a tattoo commission kick lately, I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from my readers. Awesome! I’ve also run into a curious ethical issue: folks asking if they can also get tattoos of art created specifically for others’ flesh. The short answer is a resounding “No”, and here is why.

When people ink my existing artwork -illustrations, art in the shop, paintings- onto their welcoming flesh, I’m absolutely honored and delighted, every time. By all means, get yourself a competent artist and go for it! Send pictures, too. As a matter of fact, someone’s getting one done right now.

But when I create a tattoo design for a specific person, it is theirs. We talk about placement, I often request photos of the body part the piece will go on, I find out about the client’s inspirations, I do research – all with that particular client in mind. And the clients, they pay me – let’s not forget this. They pay for an original design that’s just theirs to get tattooed. Unless otherwise arranged beforehand, I own the rights to my art, but, in tattoo form, the piece is the client’s alone.

At least that’s what I believe.

While I love sharing work online, I want my readers to respect their fellow art enthusiasts and what “commission” means. Is this a unrealistic aspiration, considering no technology can stop an unscrupulous person from yanking an image off the internet for their own shadowy purposes? My only option is to stop posting commission work, and I hope not to find myself feeling like I must. Instead, if you want something drawn just for you, I suggest you email me and we get started on a piece of your very own.