“Drawing Blood” by Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple is an artist, journalist and author. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. She’s drawn and reported from Guantanamo Bay, Abu Dhabi’s migrant labor camps, and in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, and Iraqi Kurdistan. She is a contributing editor for VICE. Her byline appeared in The New York Times, Paris Review, and Vanity Fair among other publications. Most recently, her latest painting series “Annotated Muses” is on view at Postmasters Gallery in NYC until Oct. 15 and a video narrated by Jay-Z she illustrated entitled “The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail” came out last week. She also published a memoir entitled “Drawing Blood” last year chronicling her life up to this point.

I don’t remember exactly how I became aware of Molly Crabapple’s work. It must’ve been through “Week In Hell” since I featured the project in this tiny blog posts in French. It was then housed on fabulousse.ch a long forgotten cultural blog I wrote alongside my cousin.

Not being able to thank whoever made me discover this artist saddens me. Attribution is so hard on the web and attributing the discovery of something is even harder. Tools like Instapaper could work to make that easier… but I digress. I digress because footnotes aren’t supported by WordPress Core but that’s another digression.

“Week in Hell” is an art/endurance experiment wherein every surface of a hotel room was covered with paper and then drawings. It lasted a week and many of her friends visited her as she drew. The project worked great and gave rise to a book and a mini-documentary.

To this day, I regret not having anything to pledge at the time and/or learning of the campaign too late – can’t remember the details. Of course, in the meantime, I got a job, bought most her books and a couple art prints too which make me very happy when I see them. They also lend charm and sophistication to my living room.

When her memoir was announced, I immediately pre-ordered it. It was in March 2015. It came out and I received it around December 2015. Much to my shame, I just read it the week before last. In the last few years, since I finished college, in fact, reading on paper got very slow. To make matters worse, my unread pile grew fast, got shuffled and reshuffled.


Now, I am well aware that none of the above ramblings could ever help you decide if you want to read the book or not. It shouldn’t even be a question: you do want to read that book. Writing a helpful review about it is difficult since I wouldn’t highlight anything in the beautiful illustrated hardcover. Such a prized object.

Seriously, though. Molly Crabapple’s memoir “Drawing Blood” offers insights into her path to becoming… her: a great artist and a distinctive voice. It is a tale of becoming. Many aspects of it were inspiring to me as I am living through my early 30s. Her focus and self-discipline in perfecting her craft push me to try harder with my writing. Her drive to get noticed and the business sense she developed to function in New-York City are inspiring to me as a young professional striving to show his work and get more in Geneva, another expensive and competitive city. Her search for meaning, purpose and political engagement makes me wonder how I can be more engaged with the world and find purpose for myself.

Not only does it contain inspiring facts. Her writing style is as distinctive as her art. I love her prose. Part of me can’t help being a little envious of it too to be quite honest. Her writing flows while also being, at once, precise and concise. She adds the exact amount of feeling and linguistic flourishes to convey her meaning and push the reader forward – never an ounce more. It is mastered, shows restraint and –unlike this blog post– merciless editing.

You do want to get acquainted with her work, follow @mollycrabapple on Twitter, and read her memoir. Trust me, you do.