I'm curious how some of you got started doing nude modeling or being an artists model.
I am not quite yet ready to do nude modeling (at least not for the camera, perhaps just for some classes). I would like to be an artists model (i.e. model for a class or one on one, preferably with undergarments-) where they are drawing/sketching. Paid, as well.
I am curious about some of your "stories". Did you start out modeling fully clothed and then decide that there was more money doing nudes? Did you love being nude so much that you started off doing that right off? How did you find out about classes being held, did you call around to schools or just go there in person from the start? Did you get lots of referrals from word of mouth? Did you get business cards printed up or perhaps find yourself getting so much business from word of mouth that you didn't even find a need for them? Did you find yourself booking more clothed work (if you do that as well) because you're so awesome to work with (or any other reason)?
Perhaps I didn't look correctly, but I only found one or two artists in my area that mentioned in their bio that they hold classes (and I plan to send an email)
Sorry so long, just looking for everyone's experiences
Jun 27 11 01:17 am Link
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Jun 27 11 01:27 am Link
Los Angeles, California, US
When I began modeling (a year ago), it was full nude work. My view on it was simply that it was another form of being. It never really embarrassed me - I can't think of a time that it ever did. Heck, I used to run around as a little girl without a shirt on since, "All the guys did it."
I'm afraid I never considered the implications of what my nudity out in public could do when I first started - at least not seriously. I had a mindset where I felt pretty immortal.
That has changed. Well, somewhat. I still have a rather laid back attitude about that (nudity being found out, etc).
What it all boils down to is this - I hold no shame towards my work, and I do not hide it from my loved ones. My family and significant other support me greatly ... to the point where they often mention my accomplishments to their own friends/family. Such a strong backing for my career makes me go beyond just "all right" with my decisions. In fact, I can look me in the eye of my reflection and feel damn proud of everything I have done.
If people feel otherwise and want to judge me negatively, and it has happened in the past, that is their decision, and I have never judged them for it. They have their belief system and I have mine. So long as I can go to bed at night with myself, why would I care of anything otherwise? It won't be until I run into a situation where I have to consider a traditional job that I will have to actually stop and think how to work this part of my life into a potentially conservative society.
That won't be for a while, though... if ever.
Anyways... Here's how I got started-
I spent a month or two building up my portfolio, then started a bit of paid work (had them offered to me at the time)... then eventually got to the point (such as now) where I am booking basically all paid work with the occasional TF with a photographer who really wows me.
The nudity helps in me receiving my work. Then again, I am also 5'3'' - too short for fashion/all clothed work. Granted, I have been paid before without nudity being necessary, but that is RARE, and I'm not about to bet on that happening very often.
In regards to advertising, my work comes from my portfolio and those who view it here and word of mouth. I also plan to send in a resume and all that jazz to some colleges who hire nude art models if I find myself needing the money when I head back up to Ohio for school. I don't know about your area, OP, but I know that a lot of colleges that hold art classes in the state of Ohio could really, really use some models.
I'm also planning to get around to making business card within the next week or two.
So yeah, that's my experience... Not sure if it'll help in any way, though. I hope you can glean something out of my rambling!
Jun 27 11 01:34 am Link
Tilburg, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
I started after I beated my eating disorder and wanted to do some private nude shots since I thought it might help my confidence to 'confront' myself with my new 'fatter' body. And, this worked really well for me, when I got the pictures I felt more confident about myself and I noticed that I was happy with myself. So I did it some more and well, that's how I started to do modelling
Jun 27 11 02:45 am Link
London, England, United Kingdom
You may find it difficult to find paid work as a clothed artists model. Life modelling as a profession exists to provide artists with as much infomation about the figure as possible. A clothed figure can often be harder to work from as valuable information about joints or volume can be lost.
In the UK we have an independant register of artists models and several web sites with listings but usually models can approach art colleges directly or via the local education authority. Private work is mostly through word of mouth or in response to ads.
Hope that helps.
Royal Leamington Spa, England, United Kingdom
I'm pretty comfortable naked... hell, some of my friends I show my pictures to have commented I look kinda awkward clothed compared with how comfortable I look nude. I was another of those girls who ran around with no shirt on as a kid, and I'd say I have a pretty healthy attitude to nudity (and sex, but they're not always as related as some would think ). I kinda leapt into the deep end, started out doing nudes.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Oddly enough, I got pressured into my first nude shoot by a POS photographer (pretty cool right? *chokes on sarcasm*). It was my first shoot ever, too. I wised up pretty quick and never let anyone make me do something I didn't feel comfortable doing ever again, but I also realized that I loved shooting nudes (just not with him, lol). Like other people said, I feel very free when I model nude. I actually feel MORE comfortable b/c sometimes I don't know how to work the clothing I'm wearing (I actually practice with that and look up good poses and stuff to get more ideas).
As for figure modeling, I called art schools, checked craigslist (like other people said, be VERY careful), and I used meetup.com. I've never posed for someone alone though. Not because I think it'd be dangerous, but just b/c the only offer I ever got was from a guy who totally gave me the creeps (and you've always got to trust your gut).
You could always try easing yourself into nudes. I see that you do implied work, so maybe trying just topless, and seeing how you feel with that. If you feel good about it, move to full nude. Go at your own pace. Figure out where your boundaries are and stick to them (don't let anyone push you around like I did). I also recommend using an alias. Even just using a fake last name helps. That way when you're googled naked pics of you don't show up (safe from mom, dad, grandma, and employers!). I went the extra step to be extra super careful and also changed my real name slightly on fb so that when employers/prospective employers searched me I don't show up, since some of my pics are up there too, and I work with children. But that's just me.
Sorry this is long.. hope some of it helps a little
Jun 27 11 08:56 am Link
Olivet, Michigan, US
Dessa Fell wrote:
Sorry to hear about your bad experience; I don't agree with every bit of this, but the important point at the moment is that while "stage names" are a good idea, you should never count on them to keep someone from finding you.
Jun 27 11 09:06 am Link
Denver, Colorado, US
I did figure drawing (as an artist) when I was in high school, so I hopped right into nude work as an artist's model. It was actually rather befuddling for me for awhile when people DID want to work with me clothed.
As to the in's and out's of life modeling, I've written about it here:
http://modelkarimarie.blogspot.com/2010 … art-1.html
http://modelkarimarie.blogspot.com/2010 … art-2.html
http://modelkarimarie.blogspot.com/2010 … sture.html
Jun 27 11 10:28 am Link
Chicago, Illinois, US
Try out the local community colleges or art leagues.
Jun 27 11 11:02 am Link
Thankyou to EVERYONE for your experiences and thoughtful responses. I will checkout people's blogs and pictures, etc. etc.
Continued success to all and I will probably pm some of you and ask more questions here and there
Also, anyone else feel free to add more/your stories!
Jun 27 11 02:40 pm Link
Salem, Massachusetts, US
Since when were life drawing models attractive?
Seriously, all the ones I had were chosen simply for their ability to knock out the libido of any horny undergrad...
Jun 27 11 03:51 pm Link
Gainesville, Georgia, US
Honestly, I started off as a very shy stripper in my early 20's. I refused to wear my contacts so I couldn't see customers and had to have a few drinks in me to get the guts up. Every day I cried on stage and threw up afterwards.
It was the only jobs you could find in the area that paid more than $150-$200 a week full time in a hot factory. I was a single mom trying to pay rent and daycare and couldn't make it on that income.
Eventually I became numb to it and "upgraded" for lack of better terms to topless then nude clubs. After that, being shy wasn't an option. I started doing promo shoots for the clubs in the local trade mags and it just evolved from there.
Never really got over my initial shyness though, I refused to do private dances, only stage work. I prefered to show off being nude, just didn't want to be up close and personal with any creep.
I quit that over 10 years ago and have no problems being nude in front of the camera now. Rather do that and go to college and say the hell with working in the clubs.
Jun 27 11 04:15 pm Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
This is off-topic, but how did you manage to make more than $50 per shift, if you wouldn't do private dances? I supplement my modeling income with stripping income, have for a bit over a year. A REALLY busy night, in the clubs where I've worked, might net you a grand total of $50 in stage money, but that's about it. I'm a competent pole performer, do crazy contortions and often get complimented on my stage performance, and I'm absolutely ecstatic if any one stage set earns me more than $15.
Jun 27 11 04:35 pm Link
Kihei, Hawaii, US
I wanted to do some, just wasn't sure if I could or not. Been modeling normal things since an infant. It was just 3 years ago I started shooting nudes. Now half my port is that way.
Once I found a photographer that had true art in his work, I asked him and we shot. First shot was topless, still some of my fav pics to date. Now I never care, I run arounds sets naked all the time.
Never know til you try! And make sure it's a quality photogapher. If you see bad results it could turn yourself off from doing them again.
Jun 27 11 04:47 pm Link
Denver, Colorado, US
I did some advertising work (clothed) as a child, but then that sort of faded away after my teen years. During college I was walking down the hall when an art instructor snagged me to ask if I would work for his art class. I'm not uncomfortable being nude, but my first time nude in front of a group was both terrifying and yet, intriguing as well. After college, I went into a corporate job and forgot about modeling for a while.
A few years ago I left the corporate world and am now running a small business, which has seasonal ups and downs. A couple of years ago I ran across a notice looking for art models, so I sent in my info, figuring to supplement cash flow during the slow months. A few months later, I was contacted to start work at an art school that maintains a staff of about 15 models. During the fall and winter I average about 15 - 20 hours a week. (They have many classes that require models.)
With one art school on my resume, it was easier to get my foot in the door at other places. I contacted the other local universities and community colleges. I have also networked with fellow models to discover other opportunities. Instructors also often know of other modeling opportunities.
I have had only minimal success by contacting local artists, but I still watch Craigslist for art classes being advertised and often contact the instructors to offer my services.
One thing I did not see mentioned in other posts is that art modeling can be more difficult than photo modeling. Poses can vary from 30 seconds to 6 hours (or more!) You will get periodic breaks, but you need to choose your positions for those long poses wisely. It helps to do some trial and error in front of a mirror to see what works with your physique - and what is comfortable for an extended period.
I try to think of myself as an actor playing a part on the model stand. It gives me the license to do some dramatic poses that would seem awkward in "real life", but that the artists find interesting. Some classes will also want to study specific body parts, which may involve some "up close and personal" observation.
Some painting classes will operate by having the model pose for photos that the students can use for reference while they work for an extended period. They should always ask your permission before taking any photos.
I also frequently work with models of the opposite sex. Sometimes we are posed separately, but some classes will have us do interactive poses - especially for the short gesture poses. (Nothing erotic - but we are both naked.) Nobody asked me (or the other models) if we were comfortable doing this, so you might want to inquire if you will ever be expected to work with another model and decide if this is something you can do. I try to be respectful of my female partners - at least until I understand their sensibilities. None of my model friends has mentioned any problems working with members of the opposite sex. (But then some females complain about working with certain other females!)
In addition to a robe and water bottle, I carry snack bars (of the Clif or Power variety), a sheet and a cushion to sit on and a yoga mat to stand on. Good studios will have clean sheets and an assortment of cushions, but some artists can be rather casual about keeping their stuff clean. I figure it is worth the effort to carry my own stuff rather than wonder who's naked bottom was there before mine.
You will be expected to wear your robe when not actually posing, and some schools don't want you to leave the classroom in your robe - even to go to the rest room. (Always ask if you don't know.)
I also find it more comfortable to avoid large meals and just snack during my breaks to keep my energy up. Hydration is important to avoid cramps.
If you are reliable and cooperative, you can get repeat business. Good luck.
Jun 27 11 05:12 pm Link
LMAOOOO... I was thinking the EXACT same thing!! Not the pm part, but just about the whole "thread derailment" thing. I'm just hoping that this thread remains on topic and positive and helpful as MM's history of trainwrecks is... well you know
Jun 27 11 06:10 pm Link
Norway, Maine, US
omg, I actually started doing nudes right away! I loved the nude photos I saw online...the beautiful artsy ones...I wanted to be that person.
Jun 27 11 06:12 pm Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
I started out doing portrait but found it extremely boring. As soon as I found out that they used nude models I jumped at my chance to do it. I loved it from the start and still to this day have not lost any interest.
I have printed business cards, networked as much as possible, always look for artists / art associations / schools that offer figure drawing and contact every opportunity that I see.
Once you get the ball rolling, if you're good, the calls will keep coming.
I only model part time, max 3 nights per week and usually have no trouble filling those dates.
Good luck to you! I think you'll do great
Jun 27 11 06:18 pm Link
Gainesville, Georgia, US
no worries, wasn't my intention to derail this...lol
You wanted stories, I gave ya honesty
Besides, nudity is great no matter how you get started! ; )
Jun 28 11 04:45 am Link
No, no, you're fine;)
Jun 28 11 11:06 pm Link
Detroit, Michigan, US
I started modeling for artists doing life drawing and painting while I was still in high school. A friend told me about an art teacher who held classes and drawing sessions in her home, and had been a student in a couple of those. She was looking for a few new models since she had just lost a couple of her long time models when they graduated from college and got real jobs. Being curious, I gave her a call to get further information. I thought it might be interesting because I really liked art, and the pay was slightly more than the typical jobs available to students. But I wasn't sure how comfortable I would be since the model is the only one nude in front of a group of 10 to 20 student artists. Having never been in that situation, I didn't know what to expect. She told me that it had never been a problem for any of the models who had worked with her over the years and I should give it a try if I was curious. I was invited to come sit in on one of the classes in the meantime, so I could see for myself how the students conducted themselves and what was expected of the model. I agreed to think it over and visit a class when I had the opportunity.
A few weeks later I got a frantic call from her that the model who was scheduled to work with her class that evening had an emergency and was unable to pose. She wanted to know how fast I could get there, since it was less than an hour before the group would start. She was down to only three models on her list, and neither of the others was available. I figured this was my opportunity to show that I was responsible and reliable, so I told her I would help her out. It happened so quickly that I didn't really have any time to get nervous. I went to her house and introduced myself. She showed me the large open area in the basement where the students worked, which was filled with chairs, stools, easels, and supplies. There was a raised platform against one wall, and in the corner a number of props on shelves and other furniture which the models could pose with or on. She handed me a robe since I didn't think to bring one with me, told me to undress and put it on, and sit on the stool next to the platform until all the students were there and ready to begin. They came in, she introduced me, and told me to take off the robe and stand on the platform. After a few minutes in front of the class I totally forgot that I was nude, and just paid attention to the direction they were giving me as far as what type of poses to present.
I really enjoyed it, and found the variety of poses they wanted to work from to be challenging and interesting. After that, I became one of her regular models and continued to work with her, and privately with other artists that she referred me to, for many years. She also took me to several other art groups. Sometimes I posed alone, other times I worked with one or two additional models. She introduced me to friends who were artists and often I would get a call to model privately for one or two of them. I remember one really fun assignment outdoors in a beautiful yard which took several weeks of posing two hours at a time to complete.
I learned to network with artists and art teachers, found which community colleges, galleries, and studios offered life drawing or painting instruction or held group sessions for artists to drop in. I found that it was often difficult to get "in" to any given class or group for the first time, since they all seemed to have their favorite models, but quickly learned that being persistent in contacting the people who were in charge of hiring or booking models would eventually get me assignments. I dropped off a folder containing my information, several 8 x 10 photos which included front, side, and rear standing views, and photos of some artwork that had been created from my poses to every place where I thought there was a possibility of making a contact.
I also accepted assignments posing nude for photography students, classes, and photographers building portfolios. It is completely different from art modeling, because the poses are quick in photography while they can be very long in art classes. I like both, since they are diverse and complementary.
If you are fortunate enough to be considered as a "muse" by an instructor or artist, who is inspired by your presence and poses, that is a very special relationship and something to be truly treasured. Such artist-muse teams can continue for years and years.
It was about 45 years ago that I first modeled. I stopped for a while after college, but never lost interest in it. Later on, I started actively seeking modeling work again when I was in my late 30's. I haven't stopped since then, and still get calls for a variety of figurative and artistic nude work, both with artists and photographers, but am now rather selective about the projects I will accept.
My wife is also a very experienced artistic nude model, who started in her late 30's at about the same time I started modeling again. Often we model together for art groups or college student's special projects and class assignments. She still loves to get involved with modeling and has a lot of fun with it. I'm quite certain that after she retires in a few years from her regular job, she will pursue modeling even more since she will have the time available to do so. She quickly decided to include photographic modeling along with art modeling and wishes she had started when she was 18 or 20 since she had taken modeling classes, and one of her friends did some extensive nude modeling for a co-worker who was a photographer at that age.
If you are going to do this, you must always expect to work completely nude, and be comfortable with that for extended periods of time. Life drawing and painting classes and groups nearly always require complete nudity and won't hire models who are uncomfortable with that level of exposure for any reason. Very rarely there may be a specific class or group that will allow or request a model to keep their underpants on if full nudity isn't needed for the concept they are working on, but that is the only exception I have seen. 99.9% of the time you will be expected to be fully unclothed. It's really not a problem after the first few moments.
You will also find that modeling nude for a group or an individual artist is a fantastic boost to your self-esteem. Every model I know has said that it is wonderful to be appreciated by the instructors and artists or students, and to view the artwork created from the poses you have just presented to them.
Jun 30 11 10:25 am Link
Santa Rosa, California, US
I started as a clothed model due to my family's hugely conservative attitude. But I've always adored art nudes, and after a while decided that I shouldn't hold myself back from something I dearly wanted to do just because my family won't approve. Around the time I made this decision I started getting a lot of offers from art nude photographers asking if I'd ever be interested in modeling nude. I picked the best, started contacting more in the area, and am doing several trades with extremely good photographers so I can start with a quality portfolio and start getting paid work.
Money was never why I did this. (There's a job in my area from a photographer I know and trust that pays a couple thousand dollars for playboy style nudes, with the caveat that you must never have posed nude before. I turned it down because I don't want to do playboy style nudes.) However, I've found in the week or two since I started my new account (under a stage name) that it's a very nice benefit. I have had far more paid offers in the past week than in the few years I modeled clothed.
Jun 30 11 10:48 am Link
Spokane, Washington, US
I grew up in a very open family. Grew up in the country, raised pagan, mom used to do some photography and modeled as well, oldest sister used to be a photographer, middle sister is in pornography.
So nobody that mattered really gave two squatting shits.
Made it easy, I guess.
Jun 30 11 10:57 am Link
Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
I started modeling clothed and didn't really have any intention of modeling nude. Then an ex boyfriend of mine started threatening to put up some personal nudes I had taken when we were dating. I am not the kind of girl to be threatened. I booked my first nude shoot moments later and when I got the images back I posted them online and sent him a text saying something along the lines of "Fine. It doesn't bother me because I'm already naked on the web". I beat the bastard to it and I had such an awesome experience I never looked back.
I am currently attending college so I would always see flyers for nude models wanted in the art department. I signed up and from there teachers started asking for me by name and then I started getting invited to model for private groups. I have business cards that I bring with me to every session so that I can give them to teachers or students who ask and I mention that I give students and teachers discounted rates.
Even when the shoots start clothed I'm usually naked by the end of it. I'm very comfortable with nudity so I'm particularly found of those kind of shoots.
Your best bet is to as local art schools and colleges and go from there. I will tell you that it's very rare that artists will be ok with undergarments. They distort the lines of the body.
Jun 30 11 11:01 am Link
Monmouth, Wales, United Kingdom
I started off modelling at groups like the Hesketh Hubbard, London Sketch Club and the Royal Academy; then privately for some really good artists. Developing a good pose repertoire is the key; and understanding what an artist is looking for - gesture,elegance, shape, line, form, negative space, expressive pose etc etc. Then working out which poses can be held comfortably for 2 minute, 5 minute, 10, 15, 20 and 30 minute poses. Takes a while but if you are good at it you will get the work and to me its some of the most gratifying and you meet fascinating people. Also I think this is the best base for modelling of any kind in order to learn the model's craft.
Jun 30 11 11:41 am Link
Baltimore, Maryland, US
When I got into doing nudes, I wasn't really looking to get paid. Nude modeling is something I do as a hobby actually. I thought that I was going to be nervous when I did my first nude shoot but it was the most amazing feeling ever!
Jul 01 11 07:23 am Link
Irvine, California, US
I went to a fine art school and then changed my major to animation and finished my degree at another school...I took A LOT of life drawing classes. I started posing for classes on and off and for artists a few years after doing print modeling. I will tell you though, modeling for life drawing is not the same as just modeling nude for photographs. Depending on the type of class, you have to hold a pose for anywhere from 5- 20 minutes, with breaks in between for up to 4 hours. It's not easy and it's not comfortable. If it's an anatomy class especially, you really have to know how to pose, giving poses that are challenging, that convey movement and holding them for a while.
Jul 01 11 11:47 am Link
Chicago, Illinois, US
Ms Angelia Faith wrote:
you're so correct...I admired our life drawing models so much....when I attended the Art Institute of Chicago, we would be in 6 hour classes, and some poses would take almost that long!
Jul 01 11 12:23 pm Link
Los Angeles, California, US
What everyone is saying is true....the workshops, the artists, the universities and private schools....they are true artists and are genuinely there to create art. I find working with photographers or painters/sculptors in this way, does provide a sound creative environment where you trust their judgement and in the end the images look amazing. Concentrate on finding artists who are passionate about their trade/skills and you will find it is not uncomfortable at all.
Just always know where you are going before you go, find out as much as possible about the studio or artist before, in order to be safe. I've been doing this for 9 years as an art model, and truly have not encountered one time, a photographer with ill intentions. I did my homework, and most of the time I admire their work to begin with.
Best of Success.
Jul 02 11 09:51 am Link