A Kelowna-based artist is raising awareness over the issue of copyright in the community after dealing with having her artwork plagiarized.
That Pearl Girl, aka Pearl Pratley, often has fans asking for her permission to get her art tattooed on them.
She says she is flattered and honoured that people enjoy her work to this extent, however when permission isn’t granted, her business and her brand are negatively affected.
Feeling defeated that someone was able to copy her work and take credit and payment for it, she has decided to voice her concerns over the issue of using other artists work, especially other artists within the community.
“I just want to get some support from some local tattoo artists and other local artists because unfortunately I never thought I’d be in this position but now that I'm here I feel like I have to do something,” says Pratley.
“It has affected my business and my brand. This is something I’ve worked on over the last three years to create style,” she explains.
She describes these situations as “mind blowing” because in the community there's supposed to be a "artists support other artists " mentality.
She says she's had comments from fellow artists such as "take it as a compliment" when explaining her disappointment in the situation.
"How is that helping all the other artists in the area?” she says. “That's telling everybody that you're okay with work being stolen, that there aren't going to be any consequences. There should be more support for this."
She equates it to having your car stolen. "How hurt would you be if you had your car stolen and someone said, 'take it as a compliment, you had a nice enough car that someone wanted to steal it.'"
“You have a responsibility on your part to inform your clients of copyright issues because this is going to come back to you,” she adds.
Paige Johns is a tattoo artist in Kelowna, and she says it is a tattoo artist’s responsibility to make sure that their work isn’t infringing on someone’s copyright.
“It's not an uncommon thing for clients to bring in other people's artwork, whether it be another person's tattoo or a photo of somebody's drawing or painting.”
She explains that it’s not ethical to tattoo a design that isn’t yours without permission, but unfortunately it happens all the time.
"I don't personally see that as a compliment, I see that as that artist being lazy,” says Johns.
“I think because the tattoo industry is still so unregulated right now, it's been kind of flying under the radar.”
"We're all still kind of learning to navigate the legal landscape when it comes to the rights of artists and things like that. So I think the heavier side of it is really the ethics of it.”
When someone brings in someone else’s art for a tattoo, she says the ethical thing to do would be to either ask the original artist’s permission or to refuse to copy the image.
You can rework designs in your own style, she explains, but just because you found it on the internet does not mean you can use it as your own.
"We get paid to do what we do because we're artists, and if you're an artist, why are you copying something?" Johns says.
“If you're putting something on someone for the rest of their life, you should know what you're putting on them, you should be able to draw what you're putting on them, you should know if this is a piece of fine art, and you should know who's done it so that you can ask permission or at the very least give them credit.”
Pratley says she is in the middle of trying to further protect her artwork. If you’d like to enquire about how to obtain permission to get one of her designs as a tattoo, she has a section on her website going over the proper steps to take.