Has Hazel Mak, one of Malawi’s top music artists, been caught red handed?
The artist shared the evidence of the alleged crime on her Twitter and Instagram accounts for all to see – proudly proclaiming what renowned writers and artists have described as a misdemeanor.
The AFRIMA award winning artist spotted one line tattoo of a “man kissing a woman” inked by Ace Dirty.
As the ink dries on her shoulder, questions were raised about the tat and its originality: Has has Hazel Mak stolen the tattoo? Is this the work of her creative mind? If not, is it okay to steal or plagiarise a tat? Is even wearing a tattoo that is not the result of your creative mind right?
To some, stealing a tattoo is fine. But not in the tattoo world where the behavior of pinching tattoo designs created by others remains a bone of contention.
This probably sheds light to Hazel Mak’s response when this publication approached her with a question to establish the person who had designed the new tat she was spotting.
“Please don’t write an article about my tattoo” she pleaded, ironically one can add considering that the tattoo is not her original work of art.
Is she a thief?
We wouldn’t describe her as such, not yet anyway. Nonetheless, this should not force you to sweep under the rug the fact that is prevalent in the entertainment world where celebrities are sued for stealing tattoos.
Guardian’s James Shackell also highlight in his detailed masterpiece that even tattoo artists tend to get shunned for inking tattoos that are not the creation of their own mind or the inkees’.
A story is often told of Victor Whitmill who did Mike Tyson’s infamous facial tattoo in 2003. The artist sued Warner Bros for copyright infringement in pirating his tattoo design “without attempting to contact [him], obtain his permission, or credit his creation” in the Hangover sequel.
Riding on this wave of information, our forensic team traced on Pinterest two designs that have a resemblance which is uncanny to the new tattoo that Hazel Mak unveiled today.
While tracing the art design through Google Image searches led this reporter to an artist who goes by the name UrbanWallArts.
“Hello and welcome to my shop, Urban Wall Arts! My little world where I am able to create my own art and pursuit my dream. Having people all over the world decorate their homes with my prints is a great honor and privilege and there are no words to describe how much it means to me. I would like to thank you for your time to visit my shop, buying or just looking for some inspiration. You are welcome to browse here anytime” reads the artist’s shop bio on Society6.
UrbanWallArts joined Society6 on February 23, 2017. While Malawi24 could not authenticate UrbanWallArts as the design’s original creator, we noted that the price billed by the artist for this design was shockingly low, falling in the ranges between K10,000 and K15 thousand.
This convinced us that Hazel Mak might have bought the design. After all, K15 bucks is not an amount that can give the Liyaya artist a headache.
Nonetheless, our journey did not end there.
A similar version of the design was posted on WeHeartIt.com by a private user about 2 years ago – and reshared on Pinterest with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald from his 1925’s The Great Gatsby Novel that “he had no plans, no definite intentions, except to kiss her lips again, to hold her in his arms”.
We Heart It commands over 14 million followers on their verified Pinterest account On the same platform, we managed to trace a couple of images of people wearing the tat of the Hazel Mak design. One of these were inked by Koloni Bali Tattoo Studio in Indonesia while the other by Pauline Tattoo Studio who specialises in fine line tattoos.
Obviously, the design is now global.
Is she a certified Tattoo thief? We certainly don’t think so.
— javier milara (@javiermilara) January 16, 2020
The tattoo’s online footprint took us further down the lane to about 3 years ago.
From a personal experience, James Shackell of the Guardian concludes.
With the facts of how Hazel Mak got the design that brightens her shoulder a mystery as as her age, one wonders whether she will reach the same conclusion as Shackell.
The design lives on.