Dr Sketchy’s anti-art school

Bowls of fruit, perfectly chiseled specimens of the human form striking contrived and unnatural poses, the odd tree in your garden, that’s what life drawing’s all about. Or is it? Not if you’re a disciple of the Dr Sketchy’s movement – an anti-art school that puts the raw in drawing – it’s not.

Launched in 2005 in a dive bar in Brooklyn, New  York by illustrator Molly Crabapple and her cohort A V Phibes, the name has since become a familiar one in all four corners of the globe, with Dr Sketchy’s events taking place in more than 100 cities worldwide and offering artists the chance to take their pencils off the beaten track and draw something a bit more risque than that by now very-well-chronicled red apple.

One city that has embraced Dr Sketchy’s with open arms and a wicked smile on its face is Manchester, with the sessions now run by the Bury Art Museum’s own Lee Crocker, himself an illustrator and tutor with a penchant for the subversive in life. The latest northern installment was held at The 3 Minute Theatre venue in Affleck’s Arcade on Thursday (April 5th), which as Crocker – who spent aeons making a playlist for the event, featuring the likes of The Ramones and Joan Jett – says is the perfect place to get down and dirty with Dr Sketchy’s since it’s got a stage, lighting and raised seating. Prior to Cocker assuming the reins, the events were held in the MadLab, a rather cramped space on a single level that lacks one crucial element of the proceedings – a bar.

“Part of this is drinking and drawing, that’s part of the appeal. When we went to one [at the MadLab] the drink ran out after half an hour and you had to go across the way to get a couple. This place is homely, it’s just got a nice feel to it,” Crocker, taking a swig of his Red Stripe, says.

Thursday’s entertainment and life drawing subject was none other than burlesque performer Daria D’Beauvoix – or Chloe to her friends – who immediately signed herself up to headline the event after hearing that Sketch n’ Roll was to be a Joan Jett affair. A smattering of live music was also on the agenda courtesy of Uke Punk, a ukelele player from Ramsbottom who’s much less George Formby and a lot more Sex Pistols.

While the burlesque theme seemed to strike a chord with the art monkeys – as Dr Sketchy’s audiences have been dubbed by Molly Crabapple – this is a direction that Crocker won’t be heading in for future gigs. “I’ve got some cage fighters lined up to do something and contortionists keep contacting me. Globally, I see a lot of burlesque and I like the idea of doing something a bit [different],” he explains, adding that he’s used magicians in the past as well and is now considering doing an Olympic-themed event in Bury.

Bury is in fact where Crocker’s next Dr Sketchy’s show will take place, since he’s done two in the last month in Manchester city centre and is keen to give it “a bit of a break”. Regardless of where they’re held, however, Crocker promises that these drink-and-draw events – complete with music, games, models and performers – will be a permanent fixture on the Manchester cultural calendar, so keep those pencils and sketchpads at the ready.

Monkey Art

Take a look at some of the drawings that came out of Thursday’s shindig.

6 Responses to “Dr Sketchy’s anti-art school”
  1. Just found the San Francisco branch. Woot!

  2. This is rad! Too bad I’m way over in California.

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