WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR ART FOR FREE?
In the modern world, you need to share art to obtain success. If you do not expose your work to the machinations of the internet, there is sadly a very small chance of making it as an artist. But that applies to your portfolio, not necessarily to Giving art away. That part is just me being a Hippie - I believe you should share and give where you can, and by being kind to others, they will in turn be kind to you.
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT IDEA?
I make a lot of artwork that is intended to be shared with others just to improve the accessibility of Nordic and Viking art out there. Not everyone can travel to get tattooed by me, not everyone can afford it, so in order to help, I give away designs every month. With a bit of luck, there will be more happy people with good tattoos, it is the same reason I share my knowledge about tattooing online, if I can help people improve their skills, there will be less wobbly line-work and badly healed tattoos! (And less cover-up tattoos for me to do)
I share free designs created by myself on social media and our GoFundMe, and also for fairly decent prices we sell PDF’s and books packed with my creations. Those are all meant to be used, meant to be tattooed on the skin of strangers, and meant to inspire others to create more art. I love sharing in this manner, it fuels my own inspiration. You can find the Digital format of what we sell Here
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT BEING COPIED?
I share what I create in my studio, at home on a daily basis and on many an occasion, I am asked how I do this without fear of being copied. Now, the question of 'how' is in itself is a tricky one, especially in a world with AI and copyright laws that are largely impossible to uphold across country borders. Essentially, I should fear that someone will copy my work. But, I do not! And here is the how and why -
- By giving art away and selling my books, I make good designs readily available to other tattooists and artists, thereby removing some of the 'need' to copy. While they use existing art, it is with my permission and will hopefully spur them on to create similar art of their own.
- Experience shows that any attempt at copying my work never really works. This is not unique to me - copying any artist with a decent set of skills and with personal style is doomed to fail.
- Any tattooist asked to copy the work of others knows the risk of being caught and ostracised. That risk is high, and the results can be harsh.
- Any truly good tattooist is not interested in copying my work. They have their own style, expression and flair, and therefore they have no reason to demean themselves by copying. If you are good, you have a career. If you have a career, you have neither need nor wish to copy.
To simplify it a little, here is a thought - if you want a good tattoo, you need to pay for it! Trying to steal it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, as well as the after-effect of paying to have poor work repaired or lasered. Therefore it is better to search out either a skilled artist who has time and can do tattoos based on designs you bring in on paper, or even better, just go to the right artist. I create to share, to inspire, to improve myself, and to make something enjoyable. Fear is not a part of that equation.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE AI ART THAT HAS BECOME POPULARISED RECENTLY?
For those of you unfamiliar with the recent developments, here is a quick run-down. A couple of companies have built "art-machines" - AI programs that create artwork based on what it finds in its database. Now this idea could be cool and harmless, but the databases these AI run on are data and images harvested from pre-existing databases (such as Google for example).
For example, it could work like this - someone opens an AI program, and they type in: Art Nouveau, Fantasy, Warlord, Travis Fimmel and green colour tones. The AI would then search its own database, and from art that has been willingly given (as well as photage, videos and so on), the AI creates an illustration of a Fantasy warlord, clad in Art Nouveau style armour, looking stylish and the image is in green tones. It does not use Travis Fimmel's face for the warlord, as it does not have permission to use his face.
Now, since the AI works on imagery it does not have permission for, it will trawl through the vast databases it has access to, creating the following -
a Warlord, framed in classic Mucha style, in armour reminiscent of Mucha's work... and of course, with Travis Fimmel's face. Furthermore, it uses a bit of the classic brushstroke of Gustav Klimt, creating a glimmering effect to the entire painting.
So, without permission from the artists, this 'new' illustration is made and the person who typed in the info is free to use the 'art' as they please - a book cover for example. Because the AI companies claim that their engines run based on 'research', they can skirt around copyright laws. This means that the Klimt estate, the Mucha estate and Travis Fimmel are all without rights, no matter how much the 'art' looks exactly like something that rightfully belongs to them all, particularly Fimmel's face. Hell, if you enter "Viking, Travis Fimmel, Dark leather armour, Axe and Tattoos", the AI can create an image which looks 100% like an image straight from the Vikings TV show, and there would be nothing they could be sued for, because they have skirted the law. This is not just for large and wealthy companies, it can be done to small and independent artists too who are all helpless to defend their style and work. The internet already shows countless examples of artists being ripped off by others using AI, and it is by no means okay!
As the world stands today, my main livelihood is not at risk as there are no machines made that can draw my style of tattooing onto a human and then tattoo it. But my artwork can be copied. My prints, paintings and my style can be stolen by a machine developed by money and coding - even though my style was created through 25 years of studying the Viking age, the Celtic arts, the Futhark, Bindrunes, Stone Carvings, Runestones, the Viking age styles and so on. I have put my life and soul into what I do, and some massive company has now created a tool that makes anyone able to simply steal my creations, and avoid any responsibility or consequence!
I still do not fear the copyist, but I know of many others artists that do, and for good reasons, as they do not tattoo. I will continue to support them, to buy their art and share them on our social media, and encourage anyone to buy real art.
Because f**k corporations and their money-schemes, and f**k anyone willing to steal from others, and use fear to cripple them!