Creative or Cultural Appropriation?

Creative art is supposed to provoke an emotion, but is this “blackface” too far? More like provoking an outrage.

REPOST @paintdatface ❤ ・・・ The transformation that I recently posted of a woman transformed into a woman of another culture has been highly criticized by those who don't understand the message. I deleted the post, not because I had regret or saw wrongdoing, but because of the negativity social media turned it into. It's been assumed by most that my intentions were to transform my model into a black woman. Truth is, my intentions were to keep the look vague enough to be relatable to many women of different cultures, but the true inspiration of the overall look came from my Cuban heritage. Although I am saddened by how many people are angered, I can't offer an apology for my artwork and for what I find to be beautiful. The transformation came from a place of love and was not about mocking one's race, but rather about celebrating it. I am so proud to be illustrating a woman representing several cultures along with their achievements, beliefs and histories. Art is interpreted differently by all and sometimes it's uncomfortable, but making this world a better place starts with our mindset – thinking positive, showing love and practicing unity.

A post shared by ANNA THORSELL (@annathorsell) on

Instagram account @PaintDaFace, a Los Angeles- based makeup artist, posted this creative editorial. Following his hesitation, he decided to feature the transformation of a model celebrating other cultures along with a disclaimer. 

The caption reads:

“DISCLAIMER. I want to clearly express the sincere place I am coming from with this transformation. As an artist and visionary, I can become bored of the ‘glam’ and done-up looks that we find all over social media, my page included. I struggle to remain challenged, and as a result of that, my posts have become more manufactured than authentic.

“This is a transformation that I’ve been holding back from releasing for a while now, solely because of the fear I’ve had of people turning it into a racial scandal against me. THIS IS NOT ABOUT A RACE CHANGE. This is about one woman acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating the beauty of another woman’s culture. I believe we live in a society nowadays that seeks any reason to stomp around town with a picket stick in their hand, fighting ABOUT something, rather than FOR something (and yes, there is a difference!).

“I didn’t want this to become another reason to stir up negativity. This is, by far, the proudest I’ve ever been of my work and I’m so fortunate to have created it with @annathorsell, who trusted my vision from the very beginning.”

The transformation that I recently posted of a woman transformed into a woman of another culture has been highly criticized by those who don't understand the message. I deleted the post, not because I had regret or saw wrongdoing, but because of the negativity social media turned it into. It's been assumed by most that my intentions were to transform my model into a black woman. Truth is, my intentions were to keep the look vague enough to be relatable to many women of different cultures, but the true inspiration of the overall look came from my Cuban heritage. Although I am saddened by how many people are angered, I can't offer an apology for my artwork and for what I find to be beautiful. The transformation came from a place of love and was not about mocking one's race, but rather about celebrating it. I am so proud to be illustrating a woman representing several cultures along with their achievements, beliefs and histories. Art is interpreted differently by all and sometimes it's uncomfortable, but making this world a better place starts with our mindset – thinking positive, showing love and practicing unity.

A post shared by Makeup + Hair (@paintdatface) on

As a creative, you put out your authentic self for others to judge. Unless it’s costume makeup how can a makeup artist challenge themselves? @PaintDaFace did his part as an artist and provoked an emotion. With the original post now deleted, the artist clearly provoked a strong reaction. Entitled to an opinion, many individuals have taken to social media to do just that.

Courtney Wilkins

Celebrity Interviewer & Fashion Blogger

I am a Multimedia Journalist. I specialize in fashion but have a background in social media, editorial styling, content curation, and video production across print, digital and social platforms. As a Curator, I bring a fresh perspective which exposes creative innovative fashion visionaries.

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