On The Scene:An Interview with Dr. Sketchy’s (Philly) Candace Ryan

We’re very excited to be back with our interview series.  This time the focus is on Candace Ryan (Candy Mayhem) who is the creative mastermind behind Dr. Sketchys Philadelphia.  If you don’t know about Dr. Sketchys, now is the time to learn and start attending.  It’s a fun place for creatives to get together, practice some figure drawing, have a cocktail, and listen to some great tunes.  The models are always gorgeous, interesting, and fantastically dressed. It’s a treat for anyone looking to practice drawing from life. Candace’s themes and ideas take the experience to another level.

It’s a great honor to have Dr. Sketchys in Philadelphia and an even bigger honor that we get to interview Ms. Dr. Sketchy’s Philly herself.


Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am very prompt and know way too much about wine. My son is 6 and wants to be a hip hop dancer this month (I hope he follows that dream) and is scared of vegetables. I have jumped out of a giant birthday cake over a dozen times and love the movie Dangerously Liaisons. I drive a green pickup truck, work in Philadelphia and live in New Jersey. Pinball is one of my favorite past times. I have two cats that my son named, Hott Lips and Billy Dee Williams.

What is Dr. Sketchys? How did you become involved with Dr. Sketchys Philly?
Dr.Sketchy’s is the brainchild of NY artist Molly Crabapple; in 2005 she founded Sketchy’s in Brooklyn. Presently we are set up in over 100 cities around the world. Coined as “the world’s premier alt. drawing movement where artists draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality.”

I became involved with Sketchy’s when Genevive Zacconi established the branch in 2006. I was performing with the Hellcat Girls Burlesque troupe and she invited me in to pose for a session. Two other directors followed; Nicola Black (2007 -2009) and Steve Cleff (2010). I had the privilege of collaborating with each of them as a model.

How long have you been the mastermind behind all of the fun and creative sessions?
Steve asked me to host one of his sessions at World Café Live then later asked if I would like to take the reigns as director in 2010. My sessions were hosted by World Café Live for the first year; I bounced around to different venues trying to find the best fit for my concepts and more importantly what would be the most conducive for the artists.

In 2012 I struck gold not only with an amazing home base but three wildly creative new colleagues and friends. Lawren Alice from Arch Enemy Arts contacted me and expressed that they would be interested in hosting Dr.Sketchy’s. Noah, Patrick and Lawren have been a tremendous support system and have collaborated on what I consider some of the best sessions. They have helped me build temporary sets, promotion and have occasionally modeled. They are the best.

The sessions are often so interesting, involved, and unique. Where do you get the ideas for them?
The inspiration comes from several outlets and every session is different. I have had models/performers come to me with specific characters or costumes that they would like to showcase, Amelia Lenke as Xena Warrior Princess comes to mind immediately. I have also had concepts that artists request to be future sessions.


Dr.Who was wildly popular last year; Robert Kraiza was my co-director and helped make that session one of the most successful. I love when artists (and voyeurs) show up in costume to participate.

Do you recall any particular sessions that were your favorite?
Brass Brassieres with sideshow goddess Reggie Bügmüncher is on the top of my list for sure. Reggie came to me with the concept of celebrating three bad ass female artists. She brought so much to the table for that session. It was beautiful to sketch and she made it very informative and personal.


The Mütter Museum opened their doors a few years ago for a special session. We set up several stations among their breath-taking collection. I have never seen so many artists drawing literally everything around them.

Working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been an absolute dream to say the least. They have been wildly supportive and accommodating with my madcap ideas. Looking back to the events I have done with them over all have been a huge accomplishment. I still am in disbelief we had over a dozen zombies in the main hall for the Walking Dead session. I have a session coming up in the Fall dedicated to the board game Clue, as well as an outdoor tribute to the impressionists this summer.

Where do you find your INCREDIBLE models?
The models are truly something else! I started casting performers I had worked with when I was shaking it with Hellcat and the ‘talker for The Olde City Sideshow. Having a background in theater and running with Drag Queens has been helpful too.

What skill level is needed to attend? Does it range?
All skill sets attend! To quote the NYC branch…” Fancy pants gallery artists, art students, dog walkers, jewelry designers, tattoo artists, illustrators and cubicle slaves. We have about 40% non-professional artists. Slightly more girls attend than boys.”

What mediums and materials do you see most often being used?
Dry materials seem to be the most popular among the artists, only rule is no messy materials.

I have seen some creative mediums though, had a table of etch and sketchers once at World Café that were something else. The one that took the cake was the embroidery sketching that a genius artist created.

Can you tell us about the upcoming session titled. “Dr. Sketchys Sunday School”? How did the idea of having a masterclass and Dr. Sketchys session meet?
One of the biggest requests from the artists who attend is longer poses. Where the regular sessions typically start with one minute poses and lead up to 20 min poses, this session will give more time to focus on one solid pose. Starting the day with an hour class on lighting your subject for reference will be a great tool for the artists to use for future work.

We have two spectacular models that I am thrilled to spend the day with. Shannon McGill posed as our bearded lady for the Carnivàle session and the artists begged to have her back. (sans beard!) Cory Wade I met through mutual friends and I still cannot believe he agreed to pose in Ellen Durkin’s “Death Dress” the first time we met. They are both just stunning people and I know will inspire some wonderful work.


You can find more information about Dr. Sketchys upcoming class here: https://www.theartisnotdead.com/dr-sketchys-philly-with-maria-teicher/

Or more about Dr. Sketchy’s Philly branch here:

Thanks to Candace and all of the affiliating spaces for making this little piece of Philly culture so engaging and exciting!