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I have lived one lifetime, still in progress. A scant two years older than me, Molly Crabapple has lived at least twenty. Drawing Blood is her memoir of her teen years in New York through her time traveling in Europe, modeling for artists of diverse merit, and drawing inmates at Guantanamo, all the while clutching her sketchbook.
Crabapple has gone through life seemingly unencumbered by doubt, or, more likely, living above its influence. When her formal art education left her unfulfilled, she walked away. When she wanted to see the world, she leapt aboard planes to Paris and Morocco, building friendships across cultures. When she needed money, she used her body instead of compromising her art, but most importantly, she hasn’t followed anyone else’s blueprints–her life is entirely a creation of her own.
Throughout her memoir she name drops friends of hers who’ve mixed art and activism, people like Laurie Penny, Buck Angel, and Amanda Palmer. She walks among giants because she is one, even though she has long since internalized the notion that New York, and by extension, life, kills its darlings, taking that which is original and creative and turning it into something corporate and commodified.
Her awareness is what may yet save her–whenever she finds herself falling into a rut, she intentionally finds another muse. The book itself is evidence of such, her first foray into formal writing after years of working through a visual medium. She’s needlessly self-deprecating about her skills in both–her book is frank and engaging, and her art looks like this.
Crabapple is awe-inspiring to anyone who aspires to live off their art alone; her greatest talents seem to be her willingness to throw caution to the wind and to hustle relentlessly while she does so. She is inimitable–her greatest appeal is her original perspective. No one can be Molly Crabapple but the woman who chose the name, but we can all learn from the example she set.