Aramaic Tattoo Troubles: An Email I Wrote

The following is an email I just sent out. All identifying information has been scrubbed.

Click here to listen to it read aloud. It really helps. :-)

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Dearest [REDACTED],

Thanks for emailing in…
You now have put me in an interesting and awkward spot. 
You see, *I* was the one who made that t-shirt design, and my younger sister is the one who designed the art for it to fit around the text.
The fact that you went out had a tattoo made from it in a language you do not understand, without consulting me — the author and copyright holder — and then have come back to me to verify it… It’s like you BitTorrented a copy of Harry Potter, printed it out on LuLu, and then asked J. K. Rowling to autograph it to give it some sort of legitimacy.
Do you see what I mean? This situation is decidedly “sticky.” :-)
So here are several things I *can* tell you:
  1. Your tattoo is a very crude replica. If you had contacted me, I could have provided you with a nice, high definition stencil.
  2. As a policy, I tend to misspell things on my demo art on the Aramaic Designs website to deter *this very situation* from happening.
  3. Since I am the copyright holder, and you did not secure a license, you’re in violation of copyright law in a very painful way.
  4. If you want to buy a license to that text (i.e. do this the conventional way, albeit backwards; a measly $10) we can talk about exactly what you have on your arm, there.
  5. Regardless of what happens, I am going to blog this. :-)
Now in truth, wait for a moment before you are offended, get angry or are upset and please understand that I do not want to be vindictive. Quite appropriately, I’m not judging you more than being amused with the situation. I’m quite sure it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, and that you had no intention of offending anyone, let alone realize. I’ve had my work “stolen” before and I’ve found it posted on the Internet in places I’d rather not, and I’ve had to deal with DMCA requests, and that’s all a really big mess that detracts from the very thing that *I* enjoy so much about my vocation, and that is: Sharing the language of Jesus with others.
But, just like how if you enjoy what a street performer is playing — if it speaks to you and gives you a few minutes of fulfillment, or really means something to you, as I’m sure this phrase does — it’s conventional to toss a few dollars in his hat so he can keep doing the thing you love. Not worrying about having to feed themselves, or scrounging to pay for the roof over their head when they go home. Aramaic, like street performing, doesn’t pay much; but, like how art and music should be more central to the human experience, so should the words of Jesus. :-)
I look forward to hearing from you.
Peace,
Steve
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3 thoughts on “Aramaic Tattoo Troubles: An Email I Wrote

  1. I like the idea of deliberately misspelling a word as a watermark. I think you ought to incorporate the letters “Aramaic Designs” in the design, and then people will tattoo your watermark onto themselves. That there’s some great advertisement. I can just imagine someone with a tattoo that says “Getty Images” in the middle of it. :)

  2. But if you incorporate misspellings in your demo art, doesn’t that tend to mean a lot of people email you with spelling nitpicks?

    And doesn’t it mean that should you die without warning, you will leave behind misspelled Aramaic as your legacy to the world?

    I’ve got no dog in this fight, but the idea of deliberate wrongness being posted by a teacher really bothers me. A commitment to truth and language is a commitment to spelling too. I can’t sleep if I realize there’s a typo somewhere.

  3. Banshee,

    People occasionally do email me with nitpicks, but rarely from my demo art. Mostly it has to do with people who have obtained their tattoos and have had other individuals try to read them as Hebrew rather than Aramaic (which can cause some anxiety).

    Also rest assured, if I do die without warning, my heirs are very much aware of the situation. I haven’t let that slip by. I tend to be a very long-term-minded person when it comes to family, business, and legacy. :-)

    Peace,
    -Steve

    (PS. Sorry, comment restored)

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