Band of Doodlers Founder Departs After Virus Vanguard Fallout

Update (as of 22 April 2020): Mas Shafreen has posted a reply to clarify on the issue of plagiarism, stating that he had borrowed inspiration from existing works, with no intention to “pass [them] off as [his] own.” The full post may be viewed below:

(Original post starts here)

Be it Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, or whoever might be attributed to the “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal” quote. They might have had the benefit of not having the Internet back in their day.

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As the court of public opinion goes, Mas Shafreen is not having a good day on the Internet. 

After the group he founded, the Band of Doodlers, was namedropped by the government as the ones responsible behind Virus Vanguard. Subsequently, it was also discovered that Shafreen might have actually traced over other indie artworks to come up with the final design for the Virus Vanguard. This is a sore point which is considered a huge taboo in the art community.

The Virus Vanguard is undergoing a review. We have received quite a lot of feedback on the characters and we will be…

Posted by Gov.sg on Monday, April 20, 2020

Shafreen has since stepped forward to clarify that he was the sole character artist behind the characters and apologized for what he has done. 

However, now it looks like simply apologising isn’t enough as Shafreen has released another post on his Facebook stating his intentions to leave the Band of Doodlers as a way of taking responsibility for what he has done.

Thank you very much for all those who have sent in kind words and support. I want to say that I will leave Band of…

Posted by Mas Shafreen on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Many were shocked and saddened by his post, urging him to reconsider his decision to leave, whilst praising all that he and his group have done to help the doodling and street art community in Singapore. 

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The Band of Doodlers was founded by Shafreen and a group of his former mentees in 2013, it has since grown to a group housing over 200 artists. According to their website, Band of Doodlers has since worked with various companies such as the National Youth Council, Singapore Art Museum, and the Society for the Physically Disabled. 

Its #BODMuralMonday! We bring fun to the workspaces at Suntec City by doodling on 3D letters instead of our usual flat…

Posted by Band of Doodlers on Sunday, April 12, 2020

Shafreen himself was the designer behind SG Care’s Band Together wristband in 2017. 

Designer Mas Shafreen's motif is of a heart on an outstretched palm. His inspiration for the design? Singaporeans…

Posted by SG Cares on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Though Shafreen has stepped forward to take responsibility for what he has done, the language used skirts around the real controversy behind tracing artwork.

Meanwhile, someone claiming to be a member of Band of Doodlers has shared that the group was unaware of the actions by Mas with regards to the Virus Vanguard project, effectively distancing themselves from the founder and the entire project.

After all, the Band of Doodlers have been stellar in the community and it would not be fair to paint them all with the same brush. Let’s not ignore due to one act of folly and incriminate the rest of the group. We do wish the group would continue to bring cheer among the community for the greater good.

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