AMC Sundays at LARA: Mucha life drawing

This new year is the 90th anniversary of the birth of our collective’s favourite artist Alphonse Mucha, and we shall celebrate this iconic artist with AMC spring Sunday session at LARA on March 31st!

It will feature models Carla and Manko as the beflowered spring sprites, and the smoking cigarette paper ad girls from Mucha’s enchanting artwork.

Alphonse Mucha needs no introduction – he produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements and book illustrations in what was termed initially “The Mucha Style” but became known as Art Nouveau. Mucha’s works frequently featured beautiful young women in flowing, vaguely Neoclassical-looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used pale pastel colors.

So bring your pastels, toned paper, and join our models to create a fitting tribute to this artist.
(We will also have a selection of free paper and materials courtesy of our sponsor, GreatArt shop).

Tickets on sale via EventBrite.

(By the way, our first Mucha tribute session two years ago was extremely popular with our followers and produced gorgeous and inspired artwork. We expect this event will sell out well in advance, so don’t hesitate to get your ticket – this session is strictly limited to 30 attendees)


The collaboration between AMC and LARA has been brewing for a while now and is set to blow all traditions away, because finally, our dynamic collective can bring their own style, sparkle, vitality and glamour to the academic environment of the atelier!

This will be a truly unique blend of your beloved AMC events set in an inspiring academic environment. Taking inspiration from the sober and serious environment of the traditional classical atelier that is LARA, we shall see what artistic cocktail can be whipped up with our models at these relaxed, informal 3 hour Sunday afternoon sessions.

These sessions are untutored and open to every level of skill.

LARA provide easels, chairs and drawing boards.

We will have a selection of paper and free materials courtesy of GreatArt.

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
Or £20 cash on the door

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

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!

AMC: 360° pose drawing with animator Aaron Jacob Jones

Due to a popular demand, we are bringing you another opportunity to animate your drawings with a supervision and guidance by a pro animator!

We at Art Model Collective love to hear artists’ feedback and input. One of our regulars, extremely talented illustrator and animator Aaron Jacob Jones, suggested trying to bring a pose to life with animation, and of course we are happy to oblige!

Carla will set up one single pose in the centre of the gallery on a rotating platform, and work with Aaron to help you animate your life drawings during this 2.5 hour session.

We’re going to spin Carla 360 degrees and give everyone 8 different angles of the same pose. Aaron will guide you through the technicalities of this challenge, suggesting to capture each angle as consistently as you can, using the same materials, colours and scale.

At the end of the session, Aaron will explain how to turn your 8 drawings into a spinning animation, using a website, a mobile app or even Photoshop. Even the simplest sketches will blend together to create the illusion of spinning movement.

The exercise will enhance your understanding of how to capture the structure of the figure in 3D, and seeing your artwork animated is always a quirky delight.

Bar, soundtrack, tutoring, 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.

AMC Sunday sessions: vintage fashion illustration at RQV

For those who can’t make our weekday sessions, our friends at Rocket Queen Vintage have kindly invited us to create a VINTAGE FASHION life drawing event in the heart of Hackney again.

Join us for this luxuriously long, fun, relaxed and stylish multi-model, multi-outfit session on Sunday 13th of May, 5-8pm!

Two models will be styled by Lisa Marie, Miss Rocket Queen herself, in spectacular curated capsule collection of vintage pieces she will be bringing back from her market trips to France and Hungary.

Models will change outfits for every pose, ranging from 10 to 30mins.

Hosted by Jason Atomic and Rachel Freire

Admission: £15 on the door
Free art materials available


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!

Interview with AMC founder Manko

How did you get into life modelling?

On my 14th birthday my parents took me to an artist studio to get my portrait done as a surprise present. I was a shy teen suffering the ugly duckling phase, so I was, frankly, mortified to sit for a real artist. He asked me to find a spot on his studio wall and focus on it while he drew me, to keep my face still, so I held my breath and did what I was told. I remember being fascinated by strange curios, canvasses piled everywhere, notes and sketches pencilled all over the rough white-washed walls of his remote cottage – the new kind of a chaotic artistic freedom that was so different from a normal tidy “proper” house I knew growing up… He put a sepia stick to the paper, then took a step back and said: “You will be an extraordinary-looking woman when you grow up.”

I didn’t really believe him, but it was such a thrill, and I was hooked. I was captivated with the idea that the way other people see me is quite separate from my own complexes, insecurities, and how I see myself in the mirror.

(His was in fact the kind of house that ended up as a grown-up, a colourful mess covered in artistic chaos).

By RP Anastasia Pollard, 2018

When I moved to London with a small suitcase and a heart full of idealistic anglophilic fancies, I never intended to become a model. Modelling was just “free money for being young”,  a by-product of the need to pay rent and tube fare to fabulous adventures. Amongst random jobs as a hairdressers model, a pin-up girl on an alt site, some shady bartending gigs in Soho, catwalks and fashion shoots, I ended up getting my kit off at a local art school.  My beloved dandy Quentin Crisp was a life model, and I read his books about being the Naked Civil Servant with a passionate abandon! I loved it (and ended up getting a fine art scholarship from that artschool too.)

 What inspired the genesis of Art Model Collective?

This job is still burdened by a frustratingly misjudged presumption of the “life hack” type stories as one of many unskilled jobs anybody broke should have a go at  – somewhere between envelope stuffing and selling your hair for profit. It really is not that simple!
A model is a vessel for magic between an artist and the page. What we are, what we do is literally magical. The effect can be brief and instantaneous, or long and painfully drawn out, but in the end, the muse-hood is collaborative and powerful.

Manko as Tank Girl Art Model Collective Orbital Comics

Manko as Tank Girl – Art Model Collective session at Orbital Comics. Photo by Drucilla Burrel

Alas, life models have no union, and the recommended pay rate has not gone up in decades. We are often left in cold uncomfortable unsupervised rooms, sometimes open to general public who have no respect nor idea of etiquette. The success of a life drawing group utterly depends on the reliability, professionalism and dedication of the model, yet they still often get offered less than London Living Wage (which was £10.20ph in 2017).

I knew we needed to start a movement that reclaims pride in the profession by being the best we can. We, professional art models with keen eye in posing, styling, lighting, communicating with artists, are worth a better pay than some “organiser” with a stopwatch and a room! I knew we could use our skills, following and experience to take the middle man out of the equation of creating excellent life drawing sessions. We made this collective to claim a fair pay scheme between life models based on equal profit share, while creating exquisite tableaux vivants – with multiple models – for the artists to draw at the regular ticket price.

From the debut session of AMC on 1 May 2016: Carla, I and Magdalene under a Maypole. I cherish that moment of us, holding each other like the Three Graces!

The co-founder of AMC, the amazing firecracker of a woman that is Carla, impressed me with her beautiful mind and stunning hourglass curves first time I met her, but it wasn’t long before I fell in love with her beautiful, generous soul. She is a true dream to have as a colleague, partner and friend. She levels my anxieties and inspires me when I’m frustrated; Carla lights up my world with her smile, support, ideas, nutritious snacks (you’d be surprised how important those are in life model’s busy schedule!), and a suitcase full of outfits and props she brings to the AMC sessions in even the highest-heeled platforms through London’s rush hour.

Jason Atomic is the “glamorous assistant” in our sessions! Jason has been holding the stopwatch for me in life drawing events way before AMC. He’s my partner in crime, life and work, and I appreciate his ongoing support – even though I know he hates me when I ask him to take docu photos, rather than be drawing us for the billionth time!

Being in a collective is a great challenge – this is not one of those gigs where you just turn up and get your kit off. We all work bloody hard at this project, but it’s a labour of love, and we absolutely believe in its success.

Is it weird being naked? 

“Nudity is trivial,” said Karl Lagerfeld. I love fashion, costumes, characters… But when I’m nude and anonymous at a life-drawing class in a purely academic setting, artists distort my face and body shapes to suit themselves, to which I submit quietly and happily. It is typical of artists to mould me into their vision, which is one of the biggest thrills of this job.

Manko atelier tank girl

Even if the drawer meticulously measures my proportions against the end of their pencil, more often than not their taste will warp the reality, subconsciously taking over and twisting the lines. That’s the curious result of the process of my visual image getting translated through someone’s living eye, their brain, past experiences, desires, tastes; then into the skill of hand-eye coordination, and then finally into the decisive, artistic, technical way they apply their charcoal, paintbrush, apple pencil, clay…

From the perspective of a model who did a million photoshoots, this was the new thrill to me. The most rewarding result of a job as a life model is seeing oneself not as you are, but as someone else sees you.

What goes on in your head when you’re naked?

While I model (and some sustained poses can go on for as long a 60 hours), I need to find a way to entertain myself, as I distract myself from the physical strains… Sometimes I replay my favourite movies in my head (RHPC, song by song, line by line!), or try to recall poems I learnt as a child in a foreign language. Sometimes I pretend to be a lizard bathing in a desert sun (i.e. a humming heater frying my right leg!).
Sometimes I spray some old perfume to induce a memory of a past relationship. Or I think how I love my cat, very sloooowwwwly, visualising her softness and beauty, from her whiskers to her bean-toes.

Sometimes, I just count how many breaths a body takes in 20 minutes.

Art Model Collective by Toby Deveson

Art Model Collective at LimeWharf art residency. Photo by Toby Deveson

Sometimes I am just completely blank and still. It might sound corny, but when you are constantly on your computer, phone or being distracted by human interactions around you, having some time of pure nothingness is a kind of a glorious relief.

But definitely the best of times are when I get to sit for workshops taught by artists I admire, and get to listen to their tutoring.

Manko by Frank Gambino

Manko by Frank Gambino

What other artists, models, muses or characters do you admire, do you have inspirations/favourites?

Obviously Quentin Crisp… Gala Dalí, Michèle Lamy, Divine, Edie Sedgwick, Elizabeth Ist, Iggy, Ziggy, Nureyev, and hundreds of other people of intense style, power, fragility, strength, suffering, success, failure…

I’ll let you in on a secret… I like to channel my idols. For example, if I feel that I’m lacking an old school glamour before I step on the set, in my head I might pretended to be Candy Darling – the transsexual Warhol superstar who was more feminine than I could ever be, and although I bet she was mostly quite insecure to have been born in a male body, the fact which makes it that much more powerful to me, because she had to work extra hard to become the glamorous woman I adore, and that’s the energy that I am trying to “borrow”. I’m evoking a mythical archetype that empowers me. Venus or Patsy Stone… it’s quite magical, and it always works.

Tell us of a single memorable life-modelling gig.

After doing a shoot for Suicidegirls at the Chelsea Hotel in NYC (a genderfuck photo story about Sid & Nancy), I was roaming the art-laden corridors of the legendary hotel in search of rock’n’roll ghosts, when a short British chap in a hat startled me in an empty hallway with an invite to his studio… He turned out to be a Royal Academician, and gave me a huge wad of green notes for 15 minutes of sketching me as I danced around his studio dressed as Sid Vicious high on Adderall. I saw his life sketch of Quentin Crisp in his studio, it literally took my breath away.

Has life modelling changed you how you see yourself?

My idea of self is a fragile and volatile thing, I am insanely over-analytical and I rarely recognise myself in photos and drawings done by anyone but myself. I dwell in a body dysmorphic disorder, and that’s the magic of the job as a life model, seeing oneself not as you are, but as someone else sees you.

A sculpture tutor once commented on the portrait busts of me at the end of the first year course of 18 students: “And here are eighteen different ways to offend your beauty.” I didn’t feel that way at all, it was heady (excuse the pun) and infinitely thrilling. But then what do I know? Once I hugged a life-size sculpture of me, perfectly measured with callipers, cast in resin, wigged and painted lifelike (not unlike at the Madam Tussaud’s Museum), and I felt my doppelganger creature shockingly delicate, small and frail, not at all how I see myself. It was shocking and wonderful!

Manko by Anthony at Art Academy/ Andrew Hitchcock

All Art Model Collective sessions look fabulous. Success seems natural for you. What has been the more frustrating or difficult session you have had so far?

Honestly every session turns me into a bundle of nerves! It’s not just me getting my look on for the character of the theme – aside from regular life model routine like shaving, doing my hair, slapping on makeup, and covering my bruises with foundation, I need to also remember to sharpen the pencils, light the set, bring stage props, and attend to a dozen other tasks (which I truly love doing, no complaints!)
And then, the good old fret “is anyone gonna even turn up tonight?”…

Art Model Collective manko stage set

Manko decorates the stage at Art Model Collective’s “Japanese Ghost Stories” session at Resistance Gallery

So I am simultaneously excited and anxious every time, – yet every time afterwards, while we cheers the post-session drinks with our gang, I’m pleasantly surprised how well it went!

AMC sessions are a huge success specifically thanks to the faithful crowd of regular artists who believe in us and support us. For example, once we had a last-minute venue change, which we moved to a local pub and had a packed session! Our AMC gang is what makes our success, I can never thank enough to our followers. When I see the artwork at the end of the session, I am amazed that they “got ” what we were trying to project, mesmerised by how they did it, and I secretly cry tears of relief that we didn’t fail them.

When you model you want to draw -I know that! When you paint or draw, would you like to model? Is being multitalented, in your opinion, a blessing or a curse?

It’s definitely a tease – while I pose, a part of me is always desperate to be on the other side of the easel! Rest assured that, while I pose, my hands are always twitching in envy of your pencils. I love life drawing and I never get enough of a chance!

Perhaps one day we should hold a session in a mirrored dance studio… I give the audience a back pose, while I draw them in a mirror – you draw me, I draw the audience…. Oh what a glorious thought!

One of the perks of jobs at art schools (which are often poorly paid) is to be able to listen to the tutoring of brilliant artists. The gap in pay is made up by the value of the second-hand tutoring to a life model who also dabbles in art! Hearing the exact measurements of specific oil paint colours that make up my skin tone is geekily satisfying indeed.

Manko drawing at Art Model Collective workshop by Frank Gambino

Manko drawing Carla mid-session at Art Model Collective workshop by Frank Gambino

I love drawing my fellow models at the life drawing groups of friends, such as Art Macabre or Flesh and Bones, who kindly invite me partake in their sessions as an artist for a change.  We pose at each other’s events and hire each other to pose for ours. Life drawing scene in London is prevalent, unique and absolutely wonderful!

Naturally, we always invite our fellow models to AMC sessions to come and draw at no entry price, which many of them do on a regular basis. (Tatiana, Lily, Ed, Sara, etc).

What would be your dream modelling job?

Some months back I said: I want to pose with Carla at the Royal Opera House, held up by corps de ballet, dressed by Alexander McQueen, amongst lavish sets by Pierre et Gilles, set to the live score by Royal Symphony Orchestra, shot by David LaChapelle and drawn by da Vinci, Modigliani, Schiele, Dix and Salvador Dali, – then written about by Sartre and Bukowski – hey, you did ask for a dream!

But since modelling with Art Model Collective, we were dressed by my dream fashion houses – from Rachel Freire and Rob Goodwin to Torture Garden Latex. We’ve had insanely dreamy life drawing sessions where our poses were serenaded by a live violinist, cellist, pianist and an opera singer! We’ve held tribute sessions to Modigliani, Schiele, Bukowski, to which artists responded in most gorgeous ways, which really have scratched the itch of my “wanting” the improbable.

Life drawing + Live music: Manko in Rachel Freire art couture with a drawing by Mike Flight and live violinist Takatsuna Mukai. Photo by Drucilla Burrell

So perhaps a new dream session would be posing with Carla as miniature versions of ourselves in one of my dollshouses, where I construct tiny interiors of alternate realities.

Today, I’d like us to be posing in a derelict mansion house in a vineyard surrounded by goats, painted by Nicola Samori, styled by Francesco Colluci (who dresses the shop windows of TRAID from donated charity shop items), illuminated with tech couture by Rachel Freire, and drawn by YOU!
Can we transport us into my own dollshouses too? With 3D printing, that’s not exactly a supernatural flight of fancy either…. Watch this space!


The last word is by Manko:

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.