I’ve known for a while that I should start trying to drum up some more modelling work (I’ve got ten gigs in March and nothing at all after that) but I haven’t been doing it, probably because of anxiety.
But I did a class tonight, and afterward the instructor told me to name-drop him to a particular person at a local university and ask for work.
A little research revealed that the contact in question doesn’t work at the campus where I want work – she’s at a different campus that’s way too far for me to get to. But I was desperate to use my “in” (and the university’s website didn’t clearly list a better person for me to write to – I mean their “faculty” page didn’t show a model coordinator or hiring manager or anything) so I wrote to her anyway. I name-dropped my instructor and said I can see she’s not at the applicable campus but I’d really appreciate it if she could forward my info to the appropriate person.
If I get in, that’s good – it sounds like they have a lot of work available and schedule it far ahead of time, which would be a nice change from all this seat-of-the-pants stuff I’ve been dealing with. If I came off like a clueless, pushy bitch by emailing someone at the wrong campus and she deletes my email with extreme prejudice, well, even the “close” campus is an hour away from me by bus so some tiny part of me will feel relieved.
Even though that particular emailing experience did not go optimally, taking that one bit of action (and having the encouragement of my instructor) got me unstuck; I immediately went on Craigslist and responded to every post I could find about figure drawing classes. Not that there were that many of them; just five, if you discount the repeats. And most of those were just advertising the existence of a class, not seeking models. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten work by cold-emailing a place.
In related news, I believe I made more money modelling this month than I have since I started out – and I was offered three or four jobs I had to turn down because I was already busy*. And I consistently get awesome compliments on my work from the instructors and artists. And I’ve worked for…let me think here…six different places (most of them giving me repeat business) since I started this whole odyssey seven months ago.
So that’s…pretty good, right? I’m probably building decent momentum here. I hope I can get to a point where people are just calling me up to offer me stuff instead of me having to desperately scrounge around for work at the end of every school term.
Of course, even if I eventually get enough work to make a living, I have some concerns that I’m not actually mentally equipped to handle that amount of modelling. It’s a really tiring job for me, and I don’t just mean physically.
First off, just the fact of being constantly stared at takes a lot out of me – especially in situations where the artists are sitting 360 degrees around me so there is literally no part of me that escapes their scrutiny.
Secondly, I’m extremely detail-oriented, meaning during each pose my brain is spinning wildly as I figure out what I’m gonna do next: “Okay, I’m standing for this one so I should sit for the next one. Maybe I’ll do that thing where I put one arm on my knee and kind of half-twist. Wait, did I do that one the last time I modelled here? I think I did. But are any of the same people here this week? If it’s all new people then I can totally do the seated pose. But facing right, not left, because I already did a seated pose that faces left. Wait, actually, that position is an easy/comfortable one so I shouldn’t blow it on a five-minute pose…I should save it til later when we’re doing fifteen or twenty minutes. Etc., etc., etc.” It’s tiring.
Third, I’m a creature of habit and it’s somewhat taxing on me to be going to different venues all the time. Presumably, I will eventually get to a point where anyone who might want to hire me has already and I’m no longer having to anxiously plot out routes and check bus schedules every few weeks when someone new hires me. But I think even going back and forth among, say, ten places I’m familiar with is kind of a lot for my brain (or maybe it’s my nervous system?) to handle.
Fourth, the process of trying to schedule all this shit is tiring and stirs up a lot of anxiety for me. Again, this will probably get easier in future: I’m guessing/hoping people will start calling me about work instead of vice-versa. But there will always be some amount of awkwardness and moral dilemmas. There will always be times where someone is offering me an eight-week stint but one – just one – of those days already has a gig scheduled and I have to decide whether to choose loyalty or money. There will always be times when someone offers me work on a day I’d wanted for myself – or offers me an afternoon shift on a day when I’m already working in the evening, with barely enough time to travel between the two – and I have to decide if it’s worth it.
Of course, my original idea was to make a living through a combination of modelling and selling my art. I’ve been woefully neglecting my art business for months now…there’s a whole clusterfuck of anxiety issues and fear of failure surrounding that part of my life, plus the modelling is guaranteed income while the art is not, so naturally enough I’m tending to focus more on the thing that actually pays.
Still. I’m not gonna get anything out of the art unless I put something into it. Also, if I can model only part-time and make the rest of my income some other way, it’ll help preserve my sanity. By my reckoning, if I want to make a living at modelling I’ll have to pose for about 24 classes per month; this month I’ve done 14 classes and feel like it’s pushing my limits a bit. So yeah. Must…sell…art.
One final, random modelling thought: the process of holding all these dynamic poses is definitely making me stronger, but I can only tell by the fact that I’m less and less sore after classes – it’s not like I suddenly look all ripped, or anything. But today during a break in the posing I massaged the back of my own neck and OMG it felt beefy. There is all kinds of shit going on back there that wasn’t happening before. I think that’s kind of hilarious.
*Which is actually really frustrating because it’s not like my schedule was that packed! Half the time, the day before and after the requested date was totally free.