El Día de Los Muertos life drawing & ritual with AMC

El día de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration that is a wonderful example of Latin American religious syncretism. It is a celebration that coincides with a catholic festivity, but which is also larger than life and universally loved, thanks to its bold mix of pop culture, Christian dogma and mind blowing pre-Columbus traditions and beliefs.

When the concept of Catholic sin meets the Aztec glorification of death and the dead, a colourful and perfectly profane celebration like ‘El dia de los Muertos’ comes about, allowing people to enjoy life whilst at the same time paying a happy, colourful tribute to those no longer alive.

Tonight you are invited to a party in our place of residence, the underdog gallery, because ‘mi casa es tu casa’. You are welcome – indeed, encouraged – to bring ‘ofrendas’ – candles, notes, drawings – specially made to remember your loved ones who are no longer trapped in their humans bodies, but still fiercely alive in your heart and beautifully present in spirit.

As a special bonus during the last five minutes of the session – once you have finished drawing the skull faced Carla and Manko – your host Jason Atomic, will guide you in drawing from heart and memory the face of the person – or people – you miss the most.

You will then be able to leave your drawings on AMC’s specially made altar, honouring the wonderful celebration, the aesthetically stunning, the soulful and meaningful, El día de los Muertos.

As always we will, of course, have the perfect playlist, as eclectic as the cultural backgrounds within AMC itself! Expect lots of Mexican cumbias mixed up with latin hip hop and anglo rock and roll!

– – – – – – – – – – – –
£15 in advance at artmodelcollective.bigcartel.com/product/el-dia-de-los-muertos-life-drawing-ritual-with-amc
Or £20 cash on the door

All levels welcome
Bar, table spaces and some easels. Free paper and art materials courtesy by Great Art.

Psychology of drawing: AMC workshop with Frank Gambino

Art Model Collective return to Underdog Gallery for Tuesday evening’s multi-model life drawing session.

This time we will have a guest artist, the brilliant charcoal master Frank Gambino, to share his measuring and sketching techniques, as well as discuss the psychology of drawing.

We will have long nude poses with Carla and Manko, so join us and Frank to immerse yourself in a long luxurious relaxed drawing or painting session!

All levels welcome!
Bar, table spaces and some easels.
Free paper and art materials courtesy of GreatArt

Tickets: £15 in advance or £20 cash on the door.

Viva Frida! AMC tribute to “Making Herself Up” Tate exhibition

Viva Frida!

Iconic artist, feminist symbol, fashion inspiration, transgressive beauty idol and – let’s be honest – a life drawing cliche… But we can’t resist – and why the hell should we – the opportunity to celebrate the V&A’s exhibition “Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up”!

From June 16th this exhibition will be seen outside of Mexico for the first time. For 50 years after her death, all the clothes, personal objects and artefacts owned by Frida were locked away, according her husband’s wishes. Once this enforced isolation was up they were exhibited in Mexico City from 2004 and are now finally on tour, stopping before anywhere else in London at the V&A.

It’s time for Art Model Collective to finally embrace this popular life drawing classic and plunge deep inside Frida’s wonderful mind, to express our endless respect and admiration for the woman and artist, using this fascinating exhibition at the V&A as the perfect excuse. Let’s celebrate Frida in our own unique way, with the reproduction of her less emblematic painterly in a way that has become Carla and Manko’s signature style – our regular public displays of affection towards the arts.

Frida’s colours and visual references are a divine celebration of her very Mexican sense of femininity, her prolific and surreal imagery a constant fight against anything that could oppress her determination to be intensely alive through her joys, believes, fears and torments.

We will create our homage using Frida’s most important legacies and by avoiding the obvious, committing instead to creating a tableaux vivant that will be as tragic, as it will be inspiring and emotionally liberating. You can expect readings – with a Spanish accent – of her poems by our very own South American model, Carla, as well as a very energetic and passionate playlist, and a set filled with words, blood, flowers, love, hate and all of Kahlo’s visual obsessions.

But ultimately you can expect a powerful connection with the Frida Mania that will be engulfing London during the height of summer.

Even if you have already been to any of the many Frida sessions held around London before now, please come to this one too: A character, personality and presence the size of Frida’s deserves as many celebrations as possible and – we promise – you won’t forget this one.

Location: Unit 3 Holyrood court, Holyrood street, SE1 2EL, London Bridge
(just behind our usual Underdog Gallery)

Admission: £15 on the door

We’ll have some free art materials for spontaneously visiting artists, but as always, please bring your favourite tools.

All levels welcome.

Hosted by Jason Atomic

AMC at GreatArt: Blade Runner in-store session!

Art Model Collective are thrilled to start a sponsorship deal with GreatArt, London’s best art megastore.
To celebrate the beginning of this exciting partnership, we are bringing a FREE public life drawing session to the GreatArt store in Shoreditch!

Carla and Manko will design a dramatic dynamic costumed drawing session after the classical Blade Runner characters, Rachael and Pris.

The interactive expressive multi-model poses will be set in the “doodling” corner inside the store, and all GreatArt customers are welcome to join in this 3 hour event for free!

We hope to see you there!


Power To The People! Life drawing on International Workers Day

MayDay is a date of a huge importance to AMC, and this theme was chosen by us in a considered and symbolic way. The 1st of May is an ancient European spring festival…one that Art Model Collective celebrated in its very FIRST session two years ago!

However, 1st of May has also been a focal point for demonstrations by various international socialist, communist and anarchist groups. This May Day Art model Collective will celebrate their sentiment and aesthetic.

On May 1st 1886 American workers went on strike in order to fight or an eight hour working day and bring to an end the unsafe working practices. Socialists and trade unionists around the world chose May 1 to become International Workers’ Day.

Since then it has become known as Labour Day, Workers’ Day or May Day – an annual celebration for the working classes and labourers, promoted by the international labour movement.

Our models – Carla and Manko – will be standing strong and proud amongst all the symbols that have made the labour-inspired art so relevant when it comes to expressing International solidarity towards the struggle of the proletariat.

For this session, the aesthetic of propaganda posters by the Soviet Communist Party will sit alongside colourful American Pop Art in order to portray a modern industrial landscape. Two subversive female workers will stand – tools aloft, chests out and chins up – urging people to fight for their freedom giving POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

It promises to be a blast, as well as the perfect opportunity to immerse yourselves into some humorous and political illustrations. Red will feature strongly in this session, so come prepared!

Please join our Life Drawing Revolution and bring your combative spirit to fill your sketch books with Labour Day images – in perfect preparation for the Local Elections which take place on May 3rd – don’t forget to use your vote!


Bar, evocative soundtrack, two models, like-minded group of creatives, at a perfect location just a few minute walk from London Bridge station.

Admission: £15 on the door

We’ll have some free art materials for spontaneously visiting artists, but as always, please bring your favourite tools.

Chairs and drawing boards provided, some easels and table spaces available.

All levels welcome.

Hosted by Jason Atomic

RIOT GRRRL! multimodel life drawing session

Finally! A much anticipated multi-model life drawing theme with a riotous soundtrack!
Art Model Collective celebrates the Riot Grrrls in music.

February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, in which *some* women got to vote for the first time in the UK.
To celebrate this key step in the process towards female emancipation and universal suffrage, we are hailing the irrepressible female spirit with a Riot Grrrl life drawing session!

Riot grrrl is an underground subculture movement originating in the early 1990s, organised to end ageism, homophobia, racism, sexism and, especially, physical and emotional violence against women and girls, through music, DIY ethic, zines, art, political action, and activism.

Our models will embrace each other in pure feminist consciousness and punk style as much as the original Rior Grrrls embraced their guitars, voice, and grassroots politics.

All levels welcome
Hosted by Jason Atomic
Admission on the door: £15
(As usual, we welcome other life models who have worked with AMC before to come and draw free of charge)

We’ll have some free art materials for spontaneously visiting artists, but as always, please bring your favourite tools.

Chairs and drawing boards provided, some easels and table spaces available.

Please join us for a drink afterwards! We’re a friendly bunch of like-minded creatives and enjoy chatting, brainstorming, getting feedback and swapping ideas!

Evoke Archetypes: drawing Tarot with Gene Serene

In 2017, Art Model Collective created a series of collaborative multi-model life drawing events, recreating some of the major arcana of Tarot cards.

Evoke Archetypes

EVOKE ARCHETYPES is an ongoing project by Gene Serene, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and our guest of this session, whom we have been most lucky to invite during her London visits to hail us with an original soundtrack, indepth research, magick and insight of Evoking Archetypes for our London audience or artists.

Art Model Collective: Evoke Archetypes with Gene Serene

Evoke Archetypes session with Gene Serene

Many artists, such as Salvador Dali, have drawn their own decks of Tarot Cards. Carla and Manko invited a plethora of talented models and built sets to bring to life the powerful archetypes of Major Arcana, posing for the audience of artists in classical Tarot poses and costumes.

Art Model Collective Evoke Archetypes: Strength. Photo by Toby Deveson

Art Model Collective Tarot life drawing: The Devil. Evoke Archetypes with Gene Serene

Art Model Collective Tarot life drawing: The Devil with Manko, Carla and Christopher. Photo by Jason Atomic

art model collective tarot evoke archetypes manko carla angel

Fool – High Priestess – Magician (Manko-Carla-Angel). Photos by Drucilla Burrell

Genie, the concept designer of Evoke Archetypes project, is also truly a very thorough spiritual and musical host of these sessions. Prior to the sessions, she performs a Tarot reading, allowing the cards from Major Arcana to decide which characters we shall bring to life on stage. Before we begin the session, Genie sets up her altar and purifies the space of the event with incantations, bells, sage and salt.

Gene Serene card reading for the line-up of Evoke Archetypes IV

Genie says:

“I first stumbled upon the tarot as a young girl and since have been fascinated by the history, many attributes and allegory as well as the tarots more widely understood uses as a tool for self development, divination and spiritual communication.

Last year I began my artists residency in Berlin and focused on the Major Arcana. I began working with these themes with the idea to compose and design a series of symbols, composing music, and marked on a study of these powerful archetypal energies.

Joining forces with Art Model Collective allowed me not only to study these archetypes, but bring them to life, create a space and an environment where the Major Arcana are not just a series of images or philosophy, but really bring them into the physical world.

Gene Serene with Art Model Collective at Underdog Gallery

Artists are thereby given a wonderful and unique opportunity to draw; music and words are written and composed, creating a setting in where these energies can be called using models as avatars symbolically posed to represent each “Card”… and so each event manifests into a journey and compete experience. I feel it allows us to be in the presence of these intangible and yet definite archetypes that lie within and without us all…

Gene Serene set and stage at Underdog Gallery

The tarot is a major path-working and development tool which can be used in so many ways, not only in its more common experience of divination, but for personal and spiritual growth. It’s  wonderful to have found this way to work with them, and an incredible experience so far.”

Art Model Collective: drawing Tarot: Tower with Gene Serene

Art Model Collective: Evoke Archetypes series with Gene Serene, Carla and Manko. The Tower, photo by Jason Atomic

So far, we’ve evoked these archetypes:

11 April 2017: The Fool – Magician – High Priestess.

23 May 2017: The Lovers – Death – The Devil.

26 July 2017: The World – Judgment – The Tower.

31 October 2017: Strength – Chariot – Temperance.

coming up:

3 April 2018: Wheel Of Fortune – Hermit  – Emperor.

Archetypes we have evoked so far…


A night to remember – Bukowski and The Most Beautiful Woman In Town

By Boyko Grigorov, London, September 25, 2017

A call came from Carla Tofano, one of the founders of AMC (Art Model Collective) while I was on holiday in the summer. I was invited to a life modelling session themed after Charles Bukowski and his muse – The Most Beautiful Girl In Town. She had already what it takes. I looked myself in the mirror and saw a slight resemblance of Bukowski. Similar age-that was the most notable? As for poetry – hmm, not so good and famous, but I still keep some dried out ‘plumes’ in a drawer.

How wonderful! I was full of expectations and wished to cut short my holiday and rush for London. Pity – the event was scheduled for mid-September. Anyway, I updated my diary in all formats – paper, digital and carved stone. Flintstone is not alone!

We communicated with Carla on number of occasions. She was thorough in her meticulous way of organisation. The week before the event we exchanged a few messages, reminding ourselves what to take to the evening. Props for both, lighting, music etc.

All the PR work was done, FB pages were advertising the event and a good attendance was guaranteed.

art model collective charles bukowski

On the day I head for the venue, Underdog Gallery, one of the arches under a bridge, in the shadows of the Shard, near London Bridge Station. Wonderful place for all sorts of arts – drawing, music, theatre. I was the first one, apart from the bartender. Not aware that there was a bar, I took a bottle of wine in my bag, wrapped up in brown paper. And meant to drink it this way? Alas, the plot was different.

Carla arrived, we hugged as old friends and chatted in the attic above, where I changed swiftly and she did what it takes to bring herself to the character she would model. We quickly reached to agreement as to the poses in the first and second part. On the stage we had a small table, an ancient typewriter, books and sheets of paper with printed actual poetry of Bukowski. A small couch was also there. Muses are to inspire, and Carla intended to do her best. I was to wear pyjama pants and a dishevelled look.

In the first part we opened up with a 10 mins pose. Introduction to the character of Bukowski. Standing by the table and holding a book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, I was engrossed in some inspirational reading. (The book and the wine were real!)

art model collective charles bukowski

Boyko as Charles Bukowski. Photo by Toby Deveson

Then we did a 20 mins pose. And that was me sitting behind the typewriter and typing vigorously. Of course I was still. Carla in her underwear, standing still with her back to me. Her head turned slightly towards the audience and me. As if saying, ‘Whatever you do, I am here. Ehoo…’

Amazing photography from Toby Deveson would give you an idea as to the drama going on.

art model collective charles bukowski

Then we progressed to the final pose of the 1st half. It was to be 30 mins pose.

I am standing or rather half sitting on the table, holding a fresh sheet of paper with ink still wet, reading to Carla what I believe was the best poem I’ve written, ever! Carla lying on the couch in her underwear, was leaning on one elbow and holding a bottle wine to her mouth with the other hand. I felt for her, it was very demanding on both arms and elbows. The bottle was half full, but still. She performed perfectly ok. People were moving around trying to find the best viewing position.

art model collective charles bukowski

art model collective charles bukowski

During the break, I moved swiftly to take some photos and chatted with the artists. I even found a few girls from Bulgaria? How strange. It is not very common to find compatriots in life drawing session. Although I know a couple of very good professionals in London. Very encouraging.

The 2nd part was to start with a 10 mins intro pose. Carla was sitting on the couch, and I was standing above her with my left hand trying to push the bottle of wine in anger into her mouth, and the right hand holding a squashed piece of paper (the poem just written). It looked like I was trying to punch her. It wasn’t the intention though. The intention was to show her the importance of my work, now torn down to nothingness. It went very well. We tried to avoid direct eye contact and not burst into laugh.

art model collective bukowski boyko carla

art model collective bukowski boyko carla

Next pose was a 20 mins pose. She is lying on her side, nude on the couch, her bottom seductively raised high in the air, head turned back as if to meet my gaze.

I, pissed off her indifference, am sitting on a chair, a glass of wine in my left hand and holding my head with my right one. Notice the way I am holding the glass. I am actually covering the glass with my hand? I hated everything and everyone. My back turned to her. That supposedly should have infuriated her, but she shows no emotions.  Great scene, I reckon. Later that was confirmed by the audience. And some good works were produced.

Art Model Collective tribute to Charles Bukowski

Art Model Collective tribute to Charles Bukowski. Models: Boyko and Carla. Photo by Toby Deveson

Art Model Collective tribute to Charles Bukowski. Art by Sara Kuan

And the last pose-30 mins- was the most dramatic. We tried to scale the emotions up and down. I am on my knees holding her tight. So tight that at some point we lose balance, and have to re-adjust. She is holding my head and body close to her tummy. I can hear and feel her heart beating, her breathing. The pose was to represent my regret and my devotion to my muse. I totally surrender my alfa male pride, and embrace her with all my love and dedication. I beg for mercy, I cry for forgiveness, I shout loud ‘Stay with me my love, I need you, I love you with all my heart’.

And she understands. She is caressing my head and shoulder and her love transpires.

I was about to faint…

Art Model Collective tribute to Charles Bukowski

It was a very emotional evening, and we ended up drinking some more wine and chatting up. A great venue, and a very good experience I got. My first themed life drawing session, a bit different but wonderful nevertheless.

So long Underdog Gallery. I’ll be back.

This blog has been written by our guest model Boyko Grigorov and reposted with his kind permission.