Molly Crabapple

Beauty is survival, not distraction—a way of fighting, a reason to fight.

Painter, Writer, and Author of Drawing Blood

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Molly Crabapple | Painter, Writer, and Author of Drawing Blood
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer whose work has been described as “God’s own circus posters,” by Rolling Stone. Crabapple’s art engages injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion. The New York Times calls her new book, Drawing Blood, “captivating” and “refreshingly honest.” 

Based in New York, but a frequent world-traveller, Molly Crabapple was shortlisted for a 2013 Frontline Print Journalism Award for her internationally acclaimed reportage on Guantanamo Bay. She is a contributing editor at VICE, and has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Paris Review, CNN, and The Guardian. She has done illustrated journalism in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, The United Arab Emirates, Spain and Greece. Her published books include Discordia (with Laurie Penny), on the Greek economic crisis, and the art books Devil in the Details and Week in Hell. Her newest book is the illustrated memoir Drawing Blood, which has received rave reviews in The New York TimesThe EconomistDie Welt, and in many other publications. In 2017, HarperCollins’ One World imprint will release Brothers of the Gun: Marwan Hisham’s account of life under ISIS in Syria, co-written and illustrated by Crabapple.


“In a few short years, Molly Crabapple has proved to be one of the most determined and effective political artists working in these sorry times. I wish there were a hundred or even two or three like her.”

— Joe Sacco

Crabapple has been called “equal parts Hieronymus Bosch, William S. Burroughs and Cirque du Soleil,” by The Guardian, and “THE artist of our time” by comedian Margaret Cho. She spent four years as the staff artist of The Box, one of the world’s most lavish (and notorious) nightclubs. Crabapple has taken her sketchbook from burlesque halls to refugee camps, always with a skeptical eye for power.


“Molly Crabapple could be this generation’s Charles Bukowski. She’s a great artist whose life is also a work of art.”

— Matt Taibbi

She is also the illustrator of Matt Taibbi’s New York Times bestseller The Divide. She has collaborated with Spike Jonze to create backdrops for the 2013 YouTube Music Video Awards, and with Esperanza Spalding on projections for her concerts. She created art for Patton Oswalt’s DVD, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time.

She regularly speaks to audiences around the world, at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, The London School of Economics, and Harvard and Columbia Universities. Her works are held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and The New York Historical Society.    

Speech Topics

Arts & Pop Culture
Community Molly Crabapple on the Connection between Art and Politics

For too long artists have played the role of observer, disconnected from the political activity of the people around them. Is that all an artist can contribute to society? In this personal talk, Molly Crabapple traces her experiences with the Occupy movement and recent Greek protests, describing the twists and turns that informed her political engagement as a visual artist. By combining politics with art, she shows that the place for art isn’t standing to one side of political movements, but marching in the thick of things. She speaks on the direct ways that making art contributes to political movements—by adding the visceral and immediate power of images to the words and ideas that drive political engagement. What’s more, she will help you recognize the opportunity to do more, and make a difference.

Innovation & Creativity
The Do-It-Yourself Life What Molly Crabapple Has Learned About Creativity, Art, and Living

We live in an era of flux. The old model of a creator or creative type—a person who does one thing well, and depends on institutions for support—is falling by the wayside. The creator of the future is a super-connected trans-disciplinary mutant: engaged and intellectually rebellious. Molly Crabapple has created everything from Occupy Wall Street posters and arts journalism of collapsing countries to murals on the walls of the world’s most exclusive nightclubs.  On stage, she delivers an energizing, take-no-prisoners talk on how creators—how everyone—can create a life of their own design, without asking permission.