Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School one-year anniversary in LA, Sunday May 15, 2010, 7:00 PM

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Bob Self says:

The Los Angeles branch of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School (a figure drawing cabaret for artists and art voyeurs) is celebrating its one-year anniversary under the leadership of the team at Baby Tattoo (an independent art book publishing company) this Sunday at 7:00 PM. There will be three sexy models posing both in and out of costume, a special appearance by magician/mad scientist Rudy Coby, and a whole bunch of prizes to be given away. The venue is one of LA's most unusual theatre spaces -- the sideshow, circus, villain's lair themed California Institute of Abnormalarts in the NoHo Arts District. You've never seen (or drawn) anything like it.
Tinky Sparkle ( aka Jessica Whiteside, above right) is an excellent painter.

Full details here


  1. Pipenta, Dr. Sketchy’s does often have male models. E.g.:

    We’ll be combing San Diego to find the most beautiful burlesque dancers, delicious fetish models, spunkiest Rollergirls, drag queens, drag kings, belly dancers, and the most rippling hunks of man. [link]

    1. “Pipenta, Dr. Sketchy’s does often have male models. E.g.:”

      I haven’t seen dudes advertised at the Seattle events. I do plan on visiting eventually, but I’d prefer that they represent the male figure as often.

  2. Well, you call her ‘Tinky’ in one place and ‘Tiny’ in another, when she actually goes by ‘Tink.’

    1. I fixed the ‘tiny’, but she also goes by Tinky Sparkle according to her MySpace page.

  3. Uh, Mark? Would that be Sunday, May 15th in 2010? Because here I am sitting at home on a Saturday and I swear that today is the 15th. But I could be wrong.

  4. i just attended the inaugural dr. sketchy’s here in san antonio, last week! had a blast, and i’ll be there next month, too!

  5. It’s much, much easier to draw an underwear model of either sex than to draw an old, pudgy person. The former is a collection of geometric shapes, the latter is much more complicated to see and render. If you’re trying to get beginners into the figure drawing process, there are non-salacious reasons for choosing pin-ups as models.

  6. Agreed. Plus you have the added benefit of ending up with a piece of art that other people are more likely to want to look at.

    Not that I think there’s anything wrong with salaciousness.

  7. Wow, like the line-up for Dr. Sketchy’s SF. Dr. Sketchy’s NYC needs to up the “hubba hubba” ante!

  8. I’m not really getting how this is anti-art or in any way abnormal.

    As an aside, my life drawing instructors had a distinct preference for oddly-shaped models – not a single lithe and lissome body was seen. I have a sneaking suspicion that rendering the (relatively) non-complex forms of an underwear model, coupled with the prurient satisfaction of having represented such a model, would in fact be inimical to the development of draughtsmanship. See all the owners of ‘How to Draw Manga’ instructionals.

    Or maybe I’m just bitter that I didn’t get to play edgy-art-voyeur and draw underwear models.

    1. It’s not a school for anti-art, it’s an anti-art school. Once again, some people would like to learn or improve their drawing skills in a fun atmosphere with easy-on-the-skills-and-eyes models.

      I imagine that these events are full of people trying to get away from art classes full of people who find this not quite up to their exacting standards of what a drawing class really ought to be.

  9. hmmm. All bodytypes are valid. I m just wondering what some of the “anti-” art produced from this looks like. Have never seen any.

  10. Nothing about drawing attractive people, particularly naked women, is at all revolutionary or interesting. It is a good way to make money though. As for it being anti-(art school), that’s only for people who’d rather view artistry as a way to be cool rather than a serious discipline which takes a lot of work and study. I’ve known several art and musical students who can’t see the value of art or music history, they almost never advance the field. Being an anti-art school artist is about as logical as being an anti-academic scientist. They are more interested in drawing/photographing naked women and being cool than finding new ways to advance the field.

    1. they almost never advance the field

      Isn’t that the point? Sometimes, people want to have a creative outlet that’s just fun. Involving semi-naked attractive people makes it sexy fun, which is a particularly fun kind of fun. I doubt most of the people there have any intention of “finding new ways to advance the field” — they want to spend an evening expressing themselves and feeling titillated. O noetry!

    2. “Nothing about drawing attractive people, particularly naked women, is at all revolutionary…”

      God. That must be a terrifyingly energetic life you lead, if it mandates being “revolutionary” in each and every pursuit.

      I don’t think I’d have the stamina.

      “…or interesting.”

      There’s nothing interesting about naked women? We’ll have to agree to differ on this point.

      1. I can see how calling something the “anti-_____” would invite someone to measure it in its revolutionarity.

  11. There’s a certain freedom, I find, in “just drawing porn”. It doesn’t have to be good, because it’s just, well, porn. And that’s enough to carry it for lots of eyes.

    The ambience of Dr. Sketchy’s could operate the same way: you’re not sitting there stressing over Improving Your Skills, you’re just having fun, sitting around drawing these sexy naked people. If your drawing’s even half-assed it’ll make people happy to look at, because it’s a half-assed picture of a sexy naked person. And if your drawing totally sucks, oh well! You’re just fucking around. Turn the page and try again; it’s not a judgement on your failure as an artist.

    It’s surprising how much better an artist can be when they stop beating themselves up, and I can see this sort of thing being a tool to do just that. I haven’t ever attended one of these sessions, but some of my friends – pro artists – have, and they had a good time putting some practice back into their figure drawing!

  12. It’s anti-art, says so right on the cover. I guess we are so used to ironic anti-art art that anyone expressedly stating that something is not art is automatically labeled an artist. Acutally says quite a lot about art, and emphatically too (though not coherently, by any measure).

  13. Shhh… Don’t tell Mr. Anonymous wet rag about Botticelli or Mona Lisa.

    Mr. Anonymous, Mona Lisa is smiling at your astute & pompous ignorance! May your monocle pop out at an inopportune moment during some grand and fancy function.

  14. As the product of a full-blown art school education, I am a bit baffled about why one has to “lure” people to draw. And I don’t see anything wrong with traditional art schools. Well, there is the inherent sexism. You know, comparing the number of male/female artists being shown in museums and galleries to the numbers of male/female models. It does rather support the expected sexist social norms. Sorry if that’s terminology that gets your pecker up (and not in a good way), but there you are.

    And the whole hubba-hubba thing is, on the one hand, kind of adorable in a retro Betty Page kind of way. I mean, who doesn’t adore Betty Page? But it isn’t necessarily the way to really learn to draw. I’m not sure that I’d agree with Anti that it is easier to draw firm young people than older folks who might be carrying some extra weight. Curves are easier than angles. Plump is easier to draw than ripped. And how cute someone is really has no impact on how much fun they are to draw. Unless the point is not drawing at all.

    When you go the garden variety route of “ordinary” art school, you aren’t drawing models once a month as a special event. You are doing it, at least as a freshman until you select your particular discipline, two or three times a week. And the drawing sessions last all day. That’s a big difference between most BFA programs and your typical BA or BS program. I went back to school for science and was shocked that there were any classes that lasted just an hour or two. I thought that was a high school schedule. I thought, “How can we learn ANYTHING in an hour”. Well, one can, but it is certainly a different mind set.

    You spend a LOT of time in life drawing classes in art school. And it is fun, but there really isn’t any of this giggle-giggle, look a nudibutt girl/boy up there. It would be seen as unprofessional. It would be seen as terribly uncool.

    Likewise, producing Betty Page pin-up art is regarded as a bit uncool. There are exceptions, but periodically you’d run into guys who came into art school who very much embraced the pin-up girl airbrushed onto a motorcycle gas tank aesthetic. Now, before everybody jumps down my throat, let me say there are always exceptions, BUT, as a whole, folks in that particular demographic were not particularly sophisticated. Nor were they, as much as they were interested in drawing this one particular type of woman (living blow-up doll) particularly interested in taking actual women seriously as artists. Sometimes, and I noticed this far more often in this particular group than in the general male art school population, they were flat out hostile to women.

    One particularly unpleasant moment I recall was a young man named Al. His last name began with a K, though I cannot recall it now. He was an illustration major, but was taking animation as an elective. I was a teaching assistant in the animation class, so I was in a good position to observe the work that everyone was doing.

    On this particular day, Al brought in an illustration he was working on. It was a bit odd, because it had nothing to do with the work in the class. It was, it became apparent, some kind of what I would later think of a display behavior, a hostile display.

    The drawing was an elaborate pen and ink. It was done in a comic book style. The image showed an attractive pin-up girl type on her back, legs spread. Above her was a giant wasp, and the wasp was, what Al probably figured, was raping her. Al made a point of making sure everyone could see what he was working on. It was a pretty hostile and hateful gesture to every woman in the class. No one, male or female, said anything about it. It made me very uncomfortable and I have regretted being silent for years.

    Outside of crits, you shut up in art school. People’s work is there own business, their own path. But what to say when somebody’s work is about supporting oppressive norms. The pin-up, while often charming, is a stock product of high-prole culture, which is a particularly sexist one. Women have made great strides in penetrating many fields. But one of the hardest areas are mechanical trades. Working in a garage, on a factory floor, becoming a plumber or electrician or working construction can be a harrowing experience for women. Women are often NOT welcome. Hazing often crosses over into sexual assault. Pin-ups in this context are often used as a way to signal to women just what their place is.

    It is this baggage that I find problematic about these classes. And it may well be that this is not the atmosphere in the group at all. Perhaps there are more women than men showing up for the sessions, to do the drawing, that is. And, in many cases, women artists have appropriated these traditional images used to oppress, yes oppress, women, and made them their own. That is beautiful thing. This has allowed many women to own and enjoy and express their own sexuality. Taking a picture of a pin up girl as a woman and saying I enjoy this because women’s sexuality is powerful, is a very different thing from bowing your head under the male gaze. It’s way cool. It was, and quite frankly, remains, revolutionary. Women’s sexuality is not very accepted by men. In many places women are locked up, covered from head to foot. In other places this is not considered enough, so women’s genitals are ruthlessly hacked off.

    So when women appropriate traditional pin-up imagery for themselves, it’s a beautiful thing that has sent out ripples. It has allowed many more people the space to enjoy, say, a Betty Page photograph or a Sailor Jerry tattoo motif without that slightly squirmy feeling.

    I don’t know what the Mr. Sketchy scene is like. I don’t know what kind of environment it provides for artists. It is possible that it is open. But some of the responses here make me doubt it. The way I’m hearing “elitist” being thrown at some posters make me doubt it. It is a red flag. It is crab bucket behavior. It is rapping the knuckles of those who dare to question the social norm. Oh hey, raise the flag of being salt of the earth and we can’t touch you. It seems very Bill O’Reilly.

    And I am, to be frank, grossed out by the idea of folks in a life drawing class being sexually excited. It is not a comfortable atmosphere for drawing, certainly not with a bunch of strangers. I’m sure there are plenty of women artists who would find that a VERY uncomfortable atmosphere, though plenty of them would not dare say so aloud, because they don’t want to face the criticism they’d get from indignant men. And these are men, quite frankly, who don’t give a shit about how comfortable the women are. Because really, the point is not for women to draw, but to be drawn, and what are you going on about now?!

    You’ll find some spiritually robust gals who can go in and produce art in this atmosphere. You’ll find some who are energized by the environment and good for them. And there will be guys who find the atmosphere off-putting. Some will find the thought of drawing in this atmosphere kind of hinky. And others will aspire to more than artwork that ends up on the side of a Zippo.

  15. And let me add that I have wished, for years, that I’d had the nerve to rip Al a new one.

    What I’d say to him if I could go back in time is this.

    “Look, you asshole, I really don’t appreciate your hostility. If this is what you get off on, fine, but don’t wave it in my face you little creep. This attitude of yours might account for the face that you can’t, and are not likely, to land a girlfriend anytime in the near future. You’re going to have to work at it to find one with self esteem that low, but chin up, I’m sure you will eventually find one.

    “And while we are at it, allow me to disabuse you of the notion of this cross-taxonomic scenario. That wasp you are drawing looks to be an ichneumonid. She, yes SHE, is a parasitoid. There is no reason she would be particularly drawn to a female. There is no reason she would insert her ovipositor (oh yes buddy boy, that ain’t a dick, that’s a female organ) into anyone’s vagina, were she even big enough to do such a thing. There are NO wasps that parasitize humans, but if there were, you would be just as desirable a host as this hapless little girl you’ve drawn.

    “And further, there are NO male wasps, or ants, or bees that sting. Stings are modified ovipositors. Stings are a female thing. And in the world of arthropods, males don’t get an easy time of it when it comes to sex. They’ve as likely to be consumed as a post-coital snack after the act (though not by hymenoptera) as they are to be allowed to go off and brag to their buddies at the bar about the chick they bagged.”

    Yeah Al, where ever you are out there, fuck you.

  16. Mark me down as another person with a formal art school education and I’d be there in a heart beat.

    There’s a laundry list of reasons why I’d want to go, and not the least of which is since I’ve seen this post I’m 100% sold on Tinky Sparkle for Miss America… the super hero, not the pageant.

    Looking at naked girls is ALWAYS fun. It never gets boring.

    Drawing them is a experience one step further. You’re not just looking, you’re paying attention. It’s the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. Even when drawing classmates (clothed), who I didn’t find particularly attractive, you do sort of appreciate everyone’s unique beauty.

    It’s a different experience from a strip club, where they’re dancing and moving and trying to get to the next customer as fast as possible.

    I know it can be a fallacious argument, but there’s a very very good reason why for as long as humans have been drawing they have been drawing nude females: Not because you can, but because you should.

  17. I found Antinous’s comment about drawing underwear models easier than drawing other sorts of body shapes interesting since it’s actually the complete opposite for me, which is amusing since my girlfriend and I run the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s. :)

    I’ve always found drawing, say, a 90 year old man ten times easier than drawing someone who is “classic pretty” . . . with the old man, you can put down a bazillion lines, with the other, each line has to be precise and exact, otherwise you’ll build up the drawing too much and you’ll start to artificially age her.

    Not only that, but if you’re not careful, you can fall into the stereotype of “drawing a pretty person” instead of drawing THE pretty person in front of you. Your mind, well, at least mine, says, “Hey, that person is pretty, which means they have a pretty nose, so I’ll draw a pretty nose here”, when in reality everyone’s nose is different and you need draw THEIR nose.

    I dunno, that’s how my mind works, but everyone’s is different. :)

    As for the whole “Anti-Art thing”, I’m not going to speak for Molly or any of the other branches, but I think you’re taking it too seriously. Getting into an argument over what is or is not art is always a fool’s game, which I suspect may have been part of Molly’s point (maybe, I don’t know, I’ve never asked).

    Dr. Sketchy’s is supposed to be a fun outing, a little drawing, maybe a drink or two, and a little sexy (all types of sexy, not just one particular group’s). If it means anything, I would say 51% of our attendees are women.

    Personally, I attend (when I can) all and as many life drawing sessions that I can, regardless of their “style.” Each one offers something different and the variety, at least for me, helps me practice different skills.

  18. Hi Pipetta,

    I’m the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s. I just wanted to make a note that Dr. Sketchy’s was founded by two women (me and A.V. Phibes), and we’re currently managed by two women with heavy creative direction from a gay man. More women run Dr. Sketchy’s branches than men, and more women go to sessions than men. It’s around 60/40 in NYC. While my own artistic seriousness may be up for debate, I am an art school educated, professional artist, and we have done Dr. Sketchy’s in venues like MoMA, the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki.

    We named Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School because everyone involved in founding it was an art-school dropout. We were feeling a bit cheeky and irreverent, and, since we were starting up a small event at our favorite dive bar, we didn’t think it would be super-analyzed.

    By the way, I agree with you. Male models are awesome. Here’s one of my favorites, Ian, posing in a Queen Elizabeth Sketchy’s we did. http://www.drsketchy.com/blog/?cat=206

    Hope that answers some questions


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