Advertising space available for rent on your face
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
Tattoos are a trend among college students. The beauty of tattoos is the personal aspect, a decoration that customizes your body. Tattoos, college and life in general are expensive. Most college students are strapped for cash when it comes to the necessities, let alone a new tattoo.
In the early 2000s, an easy way to earn fast cash was to get paid by big dot com companies to advertise their logo or name on your skin in a tattoo. If a company is paying for an advertisement, they will want to get their money’s worth, meaning the advertisement will be big, bold, loud and in plain sight. Now most of those companies are under new logos or new names, or are no longer in existence. The problem skinvertisers now face is that they have a permanent marking on their bodies with no personal reason for them.
According to Drew Guarini in an article for the Huffington Post, Karolyne Smith from Salt Lake City, Utah, sold her forehead as ad space for $10,000 to provide for her children in 2005.
Originally, Smith put the space on her forehead up for auction on eBay. In an article written in June of 2005, after Smith received the tattoo, CNET journalist Jennifer Guevin reported that “the employees at the tattoo parlor she selected spent seven hours trying to talk her out of it.”
Billy, “The Human Bill Board” is another example of skinvertising and has his own blog devoted to skinvertising at billythehumanbillboard.blogspot.com. For $20,000, a company can get an advertisement on his forehead. Billy created and last updated his blog in 2009.
While $10,000 is a lot of money to a college student and it is a pretty nice reward for something as effortless as a tattoo, letting someone pay you to permanently wear their logo may not be the best idea. As a college student, whose ultimate goal is to get a job—explaining how you got an ostentatious tattoo of an online gambling site to a future employer is not going to go too well.
Turning skinvertising into a career is a dead end. A person only has so much skin that will be seen. Once that space is taken up, your career is over and it will be hard to find a career that will be okay with the tattoo advertisements jumping off your skin.
Tattoo artist and owner of South Side Tattoo Veronica Ray doesn’t believe that companies actually pay people to get tattoos advertising for their brand.
“I don’t believe it goes on … and I see a lot of logos; people [are] paying to do the advertising themselves,” Ray said.
Ray also remarked that it was against copyright law to skinterise. The United States’ copyright law states that the author or owner has the right to prevent any distortion, mutilation, modification, destruction of their copyrighted logo. If you get the tattoo without the company’s permission and the company believes that, by you having the tattoo, their reputation will be hurt than you are in violation of copyright law and could be sued.
All it takes is one mistake by the tattoo artist to modify the image so it is not an exact replica. In this case, the image is no longer an asset and is impeding the company. The maintenance or removal costs will be the individual’s responsibility and could be quite expensive. Even worse, the company could take legal action, making your fast cash turn into a quick debt.
Tattoo artist Joe Thomson who works at Kyklops, a tattoo parlor located on East Carson Street, said he’s never tattooed an advertisement on a customer and equated skinvertising to selling your body.
“I think it’s dumb … it’s like prostitution,” he said. “People get Monster tattoos on them … [they] might as well get paid.”
If you can find someone who will pay you to advertise for them and are looking to get a tattoo anyway, maybe this can be a simple way for you to make a quick buck. Maybe you think the small chance of a copyright lawsuit seems improbable and you're willing to risk it anyway.
Skinvertising might be an easy cash reward if you’re willing to live with the permanence of a tattoo. If you can live with the logo when you’ve reached nursing-home then this might be an option. Like Thomson said, it’s like selling your body.
Chances are you won’t want a tattoo of a company that no longer exists for a lifetime across your forehead.
Kristen Kuron is a junior English and digital media design major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.