Two years ago, I wrote a lighthearted piece about the Dr Sketchy global phenomena for Foghorn Magazine (a cartoon magazine, now available online, isn’t everything!). In brief, Dr Sketchy, an alternative anti-art school drawing event, kisses the life back into drawing classes combining sketching with burlesque. Dr Sketchy, founded and spearheaded by New Yorker twenty-something artist Molly Crabapple, was in conversation this week in The Groucho Club in Soho, London, promoting her new book, ‘Week in Hell.’ Thanks to a birthday treat from cartoonist/illustrator, Rosie Brooks, we got to get to the talk.
At the venue, in a distinguishable wood paneled room, staff greeted us with refreshing Molly Crabapple cocktails. Infused with chilled gentle promise zinging the throat with a back smacking attention of alcohol, the cocktail served as a pleasant introduction to this much sought after event. The room, packed. And the promise, delivered. Sans chill, but certainly pithy and punchy.
Posed and balletic, Molly Crabapple sat on a peacock blue sofa clad in a coutured red dress, with eyes as large as Bambi. During her conversation with the formidable Ana Finel Honigman, the black haired beauty appeared fearless, composed and dynamic. Smart women, smart questions, smart answers. The pace, fast.
When Dr Sketchy went global, the unstoppable Molly Crabapple moved onwards. Is there no end to her gritty tenacity and daring? She figured out a perfect way to fund large scale art projects using Kickstarter as a conduit. Kickstarter is an online fund raising website purporting to be the world’s largest US funding platform for creative projects. In short, a proposal is written, a budget is set, in return, Molly Crabapple offers her financial backers tasty incentives. And backers she has, in their thousands. Who needs the headache of filling out a tedious grant application form when there is Kickstarter? It’s revolutionary. The online cash machine model works well for Molly Crabapple, not only achieving target budgets, but exceeding them too, in some cases by over 500%. Take the following Kickstarter venture which is the premise for her book ‘Week in Hell’, Molly Crabapple proposed to rent a hotel room for a week, cover it in 270 ft of paper, lock herself in and start drawing. Pre-sold by the inch, the 270 ft blank paper raised $65,000 in 3 weeks. Journalists found themselves lured into the project swayed by the bait of Scotch and Wifi. Pretty damn savvy, I say. Her backers ranged from teenagers in Moscow, to dot commers. Everyone gets a share of the Crabapple pie. Backers get to watch live video streams and/or own a piece of original Molly Crabapple art. When this art instigator did finally enter the hotel room, there was no game plan with regards to the five days worth of grand scale drawing. Molly Crabapple went in ‘cold’ but soon dived in, (how fearless is that), drawing a giant head (over a bed) vomiting out little girls…and, if my crap note taking serves me correctly, she featured her friend, who also happens to be an aerialist porn star. . .Wow, now, without wishing to boast, my friends are a pretty eclectic bunch, but I do not recall an aerialist porn star in my address book.
Self-diagnosed with ‘oppositional defiance disorder’, this remarkable creature understates herself. Pizzazz, she’s got, that’s for certain, but she’s also an astute business woman. This avant-garde feminist enjoys hanging out with amazing people from rock stars to porn stars, a number of her friends work in the sex industry. ‘I’m not an activist, I’m not a deep thinker.’ Clearly concerned about eroding female rights in the US, she is politically active, and yes, she’s deep thoughted too. On cartooning she says, ‘there’s something profoundly dangerous about cartooning,’ even her animals are allegorical. Though this woman likes to get her hands dirty, she also has her fingers on the internet pulse, ‘the internet is totally in my blood’. With an online presence both intense and prolific, this woman, cares about her fans. She cares about people. She cares about her life drawing models, when she initiated the Dr Sketchy events, the models got a billing too. Inclusive gestures such as that, are profound, political and life affirming. People matter. She cares about a lot of things. I like people who care. If ever there is an example of the re-emerging feminine, she is definitely it, she’s powerful.
Regrettably, by the time Rosie and I reached the end of the queue for the pile high books, they were all signed, sealed and sold. My other regret, apart from not having an aerialist artiste in my address book, is that I didn’t have my sketchbook on me.