Serious artists are bound to find Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School rather blasphemous, but the more lighthearted ones obviously think it’s a lot of fun. How else would you explain a Dr. Sketchy’s branch in 100 cities spread over 5 continents, merely 6 years after the first class was held in a dive bar in Brooklyn?
It’s hard to call the place an ‘art school’, as it looks more like a pub where artists come to hang out, socialize and have a good time. But they do make a lot of drawings while they’re at it. And the major attractions are the ‘subjects’ that they get to sketch. Founders A.V. Phibes and Molly Crabapple make sure to find the most beautiful burlesque dancers, the most rippling hunks of men and the most bizarre circus freaks, who pose for artists every other Saturday for three whole hours. An artist herself, Crabapple decided to create an alternative drawing school to counter the conventional restrictions of mainstream art. She asked a simple question: why can’t drawing naked people be sexy? And this unique anti-art school was her attempt at an answer. So Dr. Sketchy, a fictional corrupt Viennese doctor, was born. On their official website, the school is described as ‘the world’s premier alternative drawing movement’.
The students, called ‘art monkeys’, gather with a lot of enthusiasm at Dr. Sketchy’s. They come from all walks of life: there are galley artists, art students, tattoo artists, illustrators and even non-professional artists. While the more serious ones turn up with their own materials, complimentary art supplies are provided to the amateurs. However, there are no erasers allowed, because “there’s no such thing as a mistake at Dr. Sketchy’s.” After warming up with 1, 2 and 5 minute poses, there are 10 and 20 minute poses to allow artists to focus on detail. To make the whole experience even more fun they hold all kinds of wacky competitions such as ‘best eyelashes’ or ‘best comic strip’. Prizes include booze, graphic novels and gift certificates to tattoo parlors. It’s surprising to note that, according to Crabapple, Dr. Sketchy’s art monkeys number more women than men.
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