I recently received an e-mail from someone who has the same last name as my own. She had searched the web and found that I often write about genealogy and occasionally about coats of arms and crests. She sent me an e-mail that said (in part), "I am looking for a copy of the Eastman family crest because my son would like to have one."
She and I exchanged a couple of emails and I explained that there is no such thing as a family crest. Each person has to apply for permission to display his or her own crest and is not authorized to share it with others. In my message, I used the word "crest" but didn't mention "coat of arms."
She then she wrote back, "If there is no family crest, do you have a coat of arms for the Eastman name? If you do, could I please have a copy of it for my son? He wants to have it for a tattoo he is going to have it put on his back."
A tattoo? Gasp! He wants to have a tattoo of something that isn't his? I'd suggest that the son think long and hard about the wisdom of doing that.
I have written several articles about the "propriety" of displaying coats of arms or family crests when you do not have written permission from the heralds to do so. (Heralds are the people who issue crests and coats of arms.) Many other people have written similar articles.
I won't repeat all the information here. Instead, I will suggest that if you have an interest in the subject, you should read some of the following articles now before doing anything that is difficult to reverse:
The Right to Arms http://www.sog.org.uk/leaflets/arms.html
Fake Coats of Arms http://www.historyslice.com/beginners/frauds.htm
Beware of "Your Family's Coat of Arms" Scams! http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2005/11/beware_of_your_.html
Pssst! Want to Buy Your Family's Coat of Arms? http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0126.htm
Family Coats of arms, Crests and other such misconceptions http://www.naught.org/coa.html
Fancy your own coat of arms? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/659526.stm
My Least Favorite Genealogy Web Site http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2004/08/my_least_favori.html
The above is an incomplete list; a search on Google or other search engines will find many more, similar articles. The National Genealogy Society's Consumer Protection Committee also has additional information about the shoddy businesses that create and sell coats of arms.
I wonder if my correspondent's son is still interested in the tattoo.