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What do you call a drawing of a person?

Some artists, like John Singer Sargent (whose work is in the Museum of Modern Art’s temporary collection) have used the term “flesh drawing.” Others have used the term “vacuuming.” As the artist Matthew Anderson told the New York Times, “A drawing doesn’t have to be perfect; that’s just one of the things you have to look at. It’s the picture itself.”

Anderson continued, “But you have to take time to sit with a drawing, and you can only use it once.”


And so we’ve gone back and forth on this topic for a while, and the definition of “flesh” seems to be somewhere around a certain level of “real.” As for “drawing,” I’m not sure how we can determine if a drawing has been done with a pencil and a small number of erasers or if the drawing is the result of someone who is familiar with anatomy, including the organs and structures, and who knows the differences between a human drawing and a digital drawing, but is using Photoshop or some other software. The fact is that every time we try to judge a drawing, all sorts of technical issues come into play—such as how a drawing is executed and its quality is compared to another. The fact is that every person is different and has to draw with different equipment and experience and tools.

All of this might not matter, however, if a drawing is used as an artwork, and that’s what I’d like to show you here.

This is the body of a sculpture that was used to illustrate a “how to build a fire” book for Burning Man’s 2013 festival by the art collective Art & Movement Collective who describes themselves as “one of the most prominent Burning Man project art curators and organizers.” You can see the whole thing below and the piece by Art & Movement Collective is on display at the Burner’s World shop at the Black Rock City event until February.

I’ve decided to show you one of the many pages from the book to illustrate the “how to build a fire” section because I think it’s such a terrific illustration of how a “how to build a fire” book should look on its own. I didn’t want to show you a more or less finished version of the book because there’s too much about that part of it you’d have to read by your own hand.
Pencil sketch cartoon Royalty Free Vector Image

The book is a bit of a puzzle when you first begin to figure out how each page was put together.