Become an Art Model: Strange Ways to Make Money

If you want to make a little extra money and you don’t mind people staring at you, you might consider becoming an art model.

Models pose for art students so they can learn to draw the human form. Some models pose clothed and others pose nude. Nude models are in particularly high demand since fewer people are willing to sit naked in a room full of strangers.

You won’t make a fortune doing this, but if you get several jobs going you can make a decent side income. Typical rates range from $10 to $75 per hour and depend on several factors including the going rate for the area, type of modeling (nude or clothed), setting (classroom or private), intangibles that you bring (are you experienced, unique in some way, able to create excellent poses), and the medium (photography tends to pay more than painting or sculpting).

If you’re interested in this, you need to get your name out there. First you should contact all of the art schools, colleges, and community arts programs in your area and let them know that you are available to model. Some take applications on line and you’ll have to phone or visit others. The smaller the program the better the chance you’ll have of getting work if you’re inexperienced.

You can also contact artists directly. If you see someone doing work that you’d like to be part of, there’s no harm in contacting the artist and asking if he or she needs a model. Finally, you should attend as many openings, shows, and galleries as you can. At these events you can mingle with artists and others in the art world and make your desire to model known. It can’t hurt to have some business cards printed that you can hand out. As you gain more experience and renown in your area, you’ll probably find people calling you and asking if you’re available.

If you want to do this work, make sure you’re comfortable sitting still for long periods of time and that you can hold any pose for a while. If you choose to model nude, make certain you’re comfortable being naked in front of strangers. (And bring a robe to slip into during breaks.) You’ll also need to hone a repertoire of poses. Many teachers and students won’t suggest something to you; it’s up to you to come up with something unique.

Before you seek work, get straight with yourself about what will and won’t be allowed. Will you pose with another model? Can you stand it if you’re asked to pose so that you are touching the other model? Can the teachers or students touch you to move you into another position or will being touched freak you out? Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with and learn to say, “No” to anything bothersome.

Finally, always deal with reputable classes or artists. Don’t simply go to someone’s home or studio alone without knowing exactly what you’re getting into. Ads for models on sites like Craigslist may or may not be legitimate. If it seems weird or makes you uncomfortable, don’t go. At the very least, take someone with you and be prepared to walk if it feels wrong. Safety first.

The good news for aspiring art models is that you don’t have to be conventionally beautiful. You don’t have to be the next Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Artists need to practice drawing the human form in all its shapes and sizes. This means big noses, droopy rear ends, cellulite, wrinkles, and extra weight are all okay. Pregnant, older, and handicapped people are also welcome. As long as you don’t mind posing, can create an interesting pose and maintain that pose for a length of time, you can find work regardless of your physical attributes.

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