so you wanna model for artists, huh?
First, read this, pretty please. Models have a lot of responsibility, so I’m afraid I need to make sure you’re ready to tackle the job with the attitude of a professional. Absolutely anyone can take their clothes off and feel comfortable naked. Anyone can strike a pose, theoretically, and drawing anyone at all is a good start to an artist's practice. However, it takes much, much more than that to elevate the drawing experience to the next level. Models know how to command the room by projecting a beguiling expressiveness; a strong sense of their own uniqueness. It’s this which makes an artist want to look twice. I need you to think about how you stand out. I’ll need to know about you and your background, in terms of how you view and use your body, and more about your understanding of how the body, your body in particular, can be artistically used.
I do have a database of life models that I share with many Edinburgh artists and art institutions, but as I seem to get a huge volume of enquiries to join the already enormous community of models it is apparent there's not enough paid work to go around everyone. Personally, I would encourage and would like to help the professionals to remain in their jobs by taking the little work that is available. But it's also important to acknowledge that the even the professionals can't 'rest on their laurels' because there is such a high standard of model out there - and it's not necessarily experience that catapults you to the top of organisers' models lists. Active engagement and understanding in one's role comes more intuitively to some than to others, and this doesn't necessarily directly correspond with a model's level of experience. I’ll never ‘close my books’ because I don’t know who is still out there…
The institutions I share my database with tend to book models with whom they are already familiar, unless they come with a huge recommendation from someone (usually me, since I am the one new models get directed to). For my own sessions I seem to employ models who have a theatrical bent; others might employ more generally. It's important for you to know that work is never guaranteed. It's up to the model to use their own incentive, and be sensitive about how they go about contacting individuals and institutions. Absolutely no one likes to feel hassled. There’s a bit of a catch 22 for new models - you need experience to get work, but howdya get experience without being offered work? I’ve thought about this long and hard and I’ve come up with a solution.
Every now and then, when our enquiries reach a critical mass, myself and my friend and colleague Jill from Look and Draw Workshops put on a workshop whereby we can facilitate a modelling environment for all 'levels' of participants - professional models, those who wish to do it for self-therapy reasons, and the curious. it is a safe space to feel vulnerability turn to strength, be looked upon without judgement, and to experience ones supposed imperfections turned to artistic inspiration.
The workshop is divided into two halves. The first involves modelling for/drawing one another in a variety of timings with different concepts in mind - the modelling tutored by myself and my 8 years experience, and the drawing tutored by Jill (decades of modelling/drawing tutoring experience). Drawing one another helps you realise what you find satisfying to draw - and helps you recognise when a model has really posed with your drawing in mind. That means consciously thinking about constructing a pose that relates to and complements the drawing style or exercise. It is also massively inspiring to watch other models’ interpretations of the same posing exercise - there’s as many ways to pose a body as there are bodies on the earth - it’s important to realise the nuances of the body’s creativity are infinite. Models don’t often get opportunities to observe one another at work, so drawing one another is an important step in your modelling journey - in solidarity and inspiration.
You are the then invited to stay for the second half where we invite artists to draw you for realzies and put those pointers into practice. it’s possible to attend just for this half. You will enjoy a supportive, respectful, non-judgemental environment; an opportunity to tick summat off the bucket list, headspace, an antidote a hectic life with creativity, a space to discover the capacities and limitations of your body, and the invitation to overcome difficult self-image issues through artistic appreciation. Importantly, all this is happening under our watchful eyes - we will make sure you don’t do yourself any injuries, impressive though your ambitious improvisations are, whilst at the same time allowing you to safely explore the boundaries of your stamina. But you won’t receive the first hand understanding of what an artist looks for in a model. of what it is to model, which we’ll explore in the first half.
An important consideration for me was how much to charge for this experience - as models are usually paid (on average, minimum £12.50 an hour with variations negotiable for private/regular/extended/photographic work). In recognition of your providing the bodies to draw from in the second half of the workshop, mine and Jill’s tuition is free. If you decide you’d like to stay for one, or the other half, a small fee is due for our facilitation of the space.
If you think you’ve got what is takes to seriously begin modelling in Edinburgh, please fill in this form. (It’s a snazzy google spreadsheet. Filling the info in the fields below won’t fill in the spreadsheet). If you’re not sure or have a more general query, please email me via the form below and we can discuss how I can help.
Here is a bonus video
Documenting two of London’s best professional models, which really gets to the heart of what life modelling is.