Kickstarter Backs Artist for Self-Imposed – “Week in Hell”

By: Lena Groeger

Molly Crabapple has decided to lock herself into a room for five days and take a Sharpie to every inch of the paper-covered walls. Oh, and she wants you to pay for it.

It’s one of the wackiest projects we’ve seen come out of the oddball crowdsourced fundraising website Kickstarter. But for the New York artist, it’s just her latest art experiment. Pay $1, you get to see a live stream of the five-day drawing marathon. Pay $20, and you get a cut of the finished artwork, and for a whopping $1,000 you get lunch with the artist herself – absinthe included.

Crabapple describes Kickstarter as a modern day alternative to a broken, elitist, jargon-heavy unapproachable grant system that doesn’t take advantage of the internet. This is her third project funded by the site, and while it may be ambitious, it’s not unusual. For her, that is.

She’s already painted a 90-foot mural for a nightclub in London, in a signature style one might describe as Dr. Seuss meets Toulouse-Lautrec (pigs snorting coke and Parisian dancers hanging from the ceiling are standard motifs). She once painted for eight hours a day in the lobby of the Standard hotel in New York, creating a series of four feet “surrealist Victoriana” masterpieces. But nothing has quite prepared her for “Week in Hell,” which will happen sometime this September.

With three days left in the funding drive, Crabapple had enticed more than 500 backers and raised more than $17,000 — more than three times what she had been seeking.

“I had this insane notion that maybe a box could be built in a major world square, and people could watch me drawing inside and come visit,” said Crabapple. After complaining about how it could never be done, her friend told her to just shut up and rent a room.

“And I was like, well, you dared me, so I will,” she said.

It’s a rather peculiar way to celebrate her 28th birthday, but Crabapple has never been one to draw within the lines. Fed up with sterile and depersonalizing art classes, she dropped out of art school and founded Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in her local dive bar. “It’s not anti-art, it’s anti-art-school,” she said.

Instead of treating artist’s models as anonymous entities that are “never even spoken to,” this live-drawing cabaret unites burlesque performers and glittery personas with artists who want to draw them. Dr. Sketchy’s now has branches in over 130 cities worldwide.

And given the money she raised on Kickstarter, it looks like Crabapple’s Week in Hell will could turn out to be pretty heavenly. Anyway, she’s pretty optimistic.

“I guess the worst thing that could happen would be that I wouldn’t fill up the walls, right?”