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Molly Crabapple

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

Painter, Writer, and Author of Drawing Blood

Contact Molly For Booking
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. Unabashedly political, she worked with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to create a moving and beautiful short film about the Green New Deal. Crabapple’s art engages injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion. The New York Times calls her book, Drawing Blood, “captivating” and “refreshingly honest.” For her latest book Brothers of the Gun, (longlisted for the National Book Award), Crabapple collaborated with a Syrian journalist living in a war zone.      

“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

Based in New York, but a frequent world-traveller, Molly Crabapple was shortlisted for a Frontline Print Journalism Award for her internationally acclaimed reporting on Guantanamo Bay—and her work on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is equally gripping. She is a contributing editor at VICE, and has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Paris Review, CNN, and The Guardian.


Crabapple has also 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 illustrated memoir, Drawing Blood, received rave reviews in The New York TimesThe EconomistDie Welt, and many other publications. Co-written and illustrated by Crabapple, Brothers of the Gun  (Marwan Hisham’s account of life under ISIS in Syria) was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2018 by The New York Times.


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

— Matt Taibbi

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. She is also the illustrator of Matt Taibbi’s New York Times bestseller The Divide and has collaborated with Spike Jonze, Esperanza Spalding, and Patton Oswalt. 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

Politics & Society
Illustrating Change Art in the Age of Trump

How can art and its associated contexts—including cities, irreverence, beauty, and pluralism—stand against authoritarianism? From Trump to Putin to Erdoğan to Duterte, we are experiencing a global love affair with fascism (and its ringleaders), in which politics are less concerned with facts than emotion and imagery. What role can art play in climates of political repression and populist demagoguery? In this rallying talk, prolific painter and journalist Molly Crabapple asks us to consider art and artists not as apolitical entertainment, but as heralds of truth. Drawing on her experience as an award-winning reporter and illustrator of images that often stand as maps of historical moments, Crabapple’s latest keynote speaks to, and is customizable for, a wide variety of audiences. Incorporating stories of her work with the Occupy movement and reporting on Guantanamo Bay, this talk is for anyone with a hunger to understand our future better; if and how art can affect politics—and the world we'll share for the next four years and beyond.


The Arts
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.

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.