It has been over a decade since I posted the first version of this drawing on livejournal. To this day it remains the most popular thing I have ever created.
I started drawing images of costumes during a period when I spent a lot of time thinking about identity and the ways in which people change and alter what defines them. Two of my best friends at the time had just started transitioning. Despite their individual struggles I was happy for them and found childlike joy in the simplified idea of identity as a DIY project.
A few years ago I received a message on my long abandoned etsy account.
I was happy to see it indeed. A reminder of a version of the internet that does not exist any more, and a time when I just threw drawings out there without any desire to claim copyright.
I have a few more photos like this saved on my computer. It is quite odd that there is not only one but several people out there with tattoos of a sketch I drew on my friend's couch in Vienna one day - if they haven't had it removed or covered yet.
Daniel agreed to let me post his photo and answered a few questions I asked him.
L: Actually, I feel like this is not quite enough to be interesting as a post. I want to know a little more. How did you initially find this drawing? And why did you like it?
D: So I don't even remember how I got the drawing, I guess just surfing on the Internet. If I could guess I'll say that one time there was a page or something like that called stumble upon. It was way before tumblr and I used that a lot. And the one thing I remember is that the site where it was posted didn't had your credit. That's why I didn't even try to get the permission first. I like it cause I don't know why I felt really close to the drawing, I like to think that I'm a kid even as an adult and that's the main reason of why I did it.
L: Years after you got this tattoo, how do you feel about using someone's art for your own purposes without contacting them first?
Don't worry, I am not bothered by it in the slightest. When I first started posting drawings on the internet it was just a playful thing, and learning that people used one of them as a tattoo was pretty crazy and flattering.
I'm grateful that you stuck with the original design. I had one person contact me and ask me for my permission, which of course I did give him, but then he altered the image in a lot of odd ways, saying that his girlfriend wouldn't let him have it otherwise. (Either a terrible excuse, or a terrible girlfriend.)
D: I didn't change anything, everything was perfect as it was. And yes that is a terrible excuse and it it's the worse. It's really sad to know about the thieving of art, and I've seen a lot of that and I think it's more common in the tattoo area cause it's a more closed circle I think.
L: So what's your deal, do you draw as well? :)
D: I'm an frustrated artist I believe I can't draw and the sketches or drawing I have are awful. So I Became a graphic designer. I do books and nowadays websites. :3
Well, I guess I'll say to Daniel what he said to me: Keep drawing! It's hard to imagine an artist who is not in any way frustrated. Design work can be beautiful and inspiring. Keep creating!