Tag Archives: modelling

Awkward

A few years back I signed up with a company that does marketing focus groups. It’s a nice source of income. Although they don’t call me much at all and I’ve only ever ended up qualifying for one thing they called me about.

Anyway, heard from them the other day about a group they wanted me for. These groups are always looking for people from specific demographics so the lady had to ask me questions about my life to see if I qualified for one of the remaining slots. She asked me how old I am, if I live alone, if anyone in my immediate family works in promotions or publicity in some capacity (I guess the focus group had to do with that and she was checking for conflicts of interest) and eventually she asked me what I do for a living.

Shit.

I worry that my job as an art model is so “out there” that it wouldn’t count under any of the categories in their system. And I don’t like bringing up my job to people I’m dealing with in any “official” capacity because it’s a naked job, and a job most people don’t really understand, and I don’t feel like having to explain it to people outside my normal sex-positive, body-positive, non-slut-shamey social bubble.

But when I’m put on the spot I’m usually too slow-witted to lie, so I went ahead and said “art model” anyway. And that was the beginning of a very frustrating conversation.

The woman interviewing me clearly did not have English as her first language, and I would imagine people who aren’t involved in the art world at all might not have any idea that art modelling is a thing. But damn, dude, I explained it a bunch of different ways – in simple terms, enunciating carefully – and she just was not getting it at all. It was like:

“And what do you do for a living?”

“…I’m an art model.”

“You…you’re an artist?”

“No, I pose for art classes.”

“So you paint portraits?”

“No, people paint me.”

“…”

“When art students are learning how to draw a human body, I am the person they draw.”

“…”

“I go to art schools and I stand there and the students draw or paint me.”

…Uh…

“I go to art classes and the people there learn how to draw a person by looking at me and drawing me.”

“So…you do what kind of art?”

Sigh.

Finally she went and talked to her supervisor, who apparently told her to just put down “model.” Which is what I should have said in the first place, I suppose. But the word “model” all on its own carries an implication of conventional hotness that I know I don’t live up to so I avoid it. Even telling doctors etc that I’m an art model, I see this fleeting look on their faces sometimes of “Really? You?” – they don’t say it out loud but it’s clear.

Anyway, after all that I didn’t end up being in the income bracket they were looking for so I didn’t get the gig.

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I hate “normal” jobs

The thing about conventional jobs is that usually there’s a boss you have to work pretty closely with and usually that boss will have some kind of terrible personality quirk. Maybe they can’t admit when they’re wrong. Maybe they tell you to do a thing and then decide they want the opposite thing instead and somehow it’s your fault for not reading their mind. Maybe they forget to tell you important things and can’t admit that they forgot so they throw you under the bus for it. There’s almost always something.

I’ve mentioned before that I took a part time job at an art gallery to supplement my model earnings. My boss has many good qualities. She’s not around much; she gives me a fair bit of freedom; when she does pop in, she always hugs me and thanks me for my work when she leaves; when she forgot I’d booked a day off, and then saw the multiple emails and texts we’d spent talking about it, she apologized to me for accusing me of not having told her I needed the day off.

But she’s inconsistent, and inconsistency drives me mad. One day she’ll point out that the gallery is slightly in disarray from an event the night before and that I should have restored things to normal first thing. Another day, I’ll come in to find some disarray and work my ass off to get things to normal and she’ll see me doing this and tell me I should have done some other thing first instead. Some days it’s like “why is that chair still there?” and other days I’m asking her where I should put this random chair and she’s like “Ehhh, just leave it.” She’s not horribly mean when I’ve displeased her, but still – I’m a perfectionist who wants to excel at work and she keeps moving the goalposts around and I hate it. I want clear rules that I can learn and win at.

The most annoying thing happened just recently.

The gallery does life drawing some mornings and I model for it from time to time (it’s how I met the owner and got the desk job). At one time she was booking models and offered me two gigs in the same month. I asked if she was sure; my understanding is that artists like variety so it might be a tactical mistake to have any one model pose too much (I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot to point that out but I really wanted her life drawing days to thrive, dammit!). She said she loved my work and would happily have me pose every single week if I wanted to.

Then back in December she told me to go ahead and book myself some model days in January if I wanted. Those were her words: some days. January starts off slow for me (the schools are closed for the first week and then it takes a while for them to start booking) so I figured what the hell and I wrote myself in for two different days. Boss lady had said she didn’t mind me posing all the time, after all, and it was a month where I could really use the cash.

Turns out the gallery closes for the holidays and wouldn’t reopen til later than I thought, so I had to cross off that first day that I chose. And the remaining date, I wrote in my calendar wrong somehow. Those things are both entirely my fault; I own that.

Long story short I showed up to model the other day and so did one of the gallery’s regular dude-models. Boss looked at the calendar and it was indeed supposed to be the dude-model that day. But she also saw that I had written myself in on two days in January (and crossed the one out). She told me that she’s the only one who books models and always has been. She got this quizzical, why-are-you-so-crazy expression and said “You can’t just book yourself in. And on multiple days!” I said that she’d invited me to do exactly that last month and she briskly said “No. I wouldn’t have done that.” And I had no way of proving anything because she’d said it to me face-to-face, so I had to just suck it up and apologize. Goddddd that infuriates me so much.

I think it’s blown over now. It doesn’t look like she’s gonna do some big exaggerated thing of re-explaining the basics of my job to me or acting like I’m not trustworthy (as other bosses have in similar situations). But still. Fucking hell.

(The dude-model gracefully stepped aside and let me have that shift, btw, because he lives ten minutes away by bike and he knows I live across town. So that was lovely. I owe him one.)

The art instructors I work with have a lot fewer opportunities to be inconsistent like that. Sometimes they’re wishy-washy about booking me, or write a booking down wrong and then automatically blame me when I don’t show up on the day they mis-wrote, but for the most part it’s pretty smooth sailing. They usually don’t ask me to do anything specific in class – I choose my poses – and times that they do need me to do a particular thing, it’s pretty cut-and-dried: they ask me for the thing and I immediately do the thing. There’s no time for them to forget what they asked for and claim that I was doing something different, and if they did try that (nobody ever has) I’m in a room full of witnesses who could attest that it didn’t go that way.

Normal jobs suck. 😦

 

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Pseudo-rich

Some of my gigs pay cash and others pay by cheque or direct deposit. I generally try not to touch my bank account at all – rent and other autopay type bills come out of my account, but for food and entertainment and everything else, I do my best to just spend the cash I get and not make any bank withdrawals. I’m poor enough now that I get charged for bank withdrawals, for one thing, and plus I think it helps me keep an eye on my spending when I can physically see a stack of bills dwindling.

Art modelling work has dried up considerably because the art schools are shut down for the summer. But my remaining gigs mostly pay cash, and I have one private client in particular who pays me exceptionally well and has been seeing me a lot lately.

So the wad of bills in my dresser drawer is up over a thousand bucks now.

Clients rich enough to hire me privately are also usually rich enough to go on fancy summer vacations that last for weeks, so I can’t count on my current income, really. It’s entirely possible that this thousand bucks (plus whatever dribbles in from other sources) will have to pay for all my groceries for the next three or four months.

But I still like to take the wad of cash out and look at it and count it and spread it out across my bed and admire it sometimes.

Incidentally, that rich private client responsible for most of that thousand bucks just came back from a trip to France with a bunch of her artist friends. She told me that they talked about how cool it would have been to bring me with them so I could pose for art sessions in their posh French villa whenever they wanted.

I’m not sure how serious she was, but if she ever did ask me to go on a trip like that, I might consider it. I mean, in exchange for them paying my airfare and all my expenses while I was there. Hell, maybe I could even get away with asking for a stipend on top of that- but I don’t know, is the thing. I’d hate to sell myself short but at the same time I wouldn’t wanna ask too much and have them be like “WTF, spoiled brat much?” and withdraw the offer entirely. I guess I’d have to be cagey and ask what their terms were rather than proposing my own.

This is all moot of course because it was probably just idle chitchat about a fleeting, pie-in-the-sky, silly idea.

Still, though. An interesting thing to daydream about.

 

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Tiny acts of power

When I had my office job, the receptionist I was friends with once told me that she took great pleasure in putting rude clients at the back of the queue. It’s the only way she could exert power, really, since she wasn’t allowed to yell, be rude back, or hang up on them.

The Veteran recently told me about a time on Facebook when I commented on a conversation along with someone she doesn’t like, so she “liked” my comment but not the other person’s. Another tiny act of power.

When I pose for art classes, I too have only very small and limited means of exerting power. But here are some things I’ve done.

  • Aimed all the most appealing angles of my poses away from that one guy I overheard making objectifying comments about women before class. You made me uncomfortable, Objectifying Man, and this is why you can’t have nice things.
  • Made direct, deadpan, unwavering eye contact with two students who kept whispering amongst themselves while I was in a long pose (I don’t think they even noticed. But apparently The Veteran has spooked people into silence with this technique before).
  • Posed with my back to the room (I do that sometimes anyway; people need to learn to draw asses and backs, after all. But it’s also my go-to move when I’m feeling pissy and need a break from putting on my happy, dealing-with-people face).
  • Shaved one minute off my last pose of the session (you’d be amazed at how much shorter 19 minutes feels than 20 when you spend it sitting perfectly still).
  • Angled my last pose of the session so I was looking directly at the clock on the opposite wall.

And this is not quite the same thing, really, but if I’m having an especially cranky day and I happen to be posing for people who don’t mind me getting weird with it, I sometimes work through my feelings by doing slashy, stabby, punchy poses for a while.

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Talents

The other day, posing for a small group of private clients, I was just…nailing it. Nailing the whole gig.

They loved all my quick poses, and when it came time to do longer ones they said it’s a pity I couldn’t hold some of the quick ones for fifteen or twenty minutes – I’d had hand gestures and other things that they would have loved to have spent more time on. I said that if there was a particular aspect or mood of a pose that they liked, I would adapt it for a long pose as best I could. So they went through their sketches of me and picked one and told me what they loved about that pose and I managed to capture that central thing they loved, but in a more sustainable form that I then held for fifteen minutes.

Doing this kind of problem-solving and customer service makes me feel excellent at my job. 😀

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And also ur fat herp derp

Sometimes I get into tussles with idiot dudes on FetLife and they almost always end up telling me that I’m ugly and nobody would ever want to see me naked.

I’m aware that if I attempt to refute this, I’ll just look defensive and desperate and I’ll be outing my not-FetLife self way more than I’d like and the guy won’t even believe me (or will move the goalposts of his insults. Probably both). So I don’t say anything.

But it’s just too perfect and hilarious that angry trolls love to tell me (of all possible things) that nobody would ever want to see me naked – yes, those exact words – when I literally make my living being seen naked. And am highly in demand for it. And have had my body or presence or general demeanor or whatever complimented by hundreds of people.

I just really needed to savour the irony with you, my regular readers, who know I’m not lying about my job or the acclaim I get there since I’ve been writing about it for years.

 

Too bad the trolls are so unimaginative because there’s other shit they could say that would easily have me freaked out and doubting myself for weeks. But the looks thing? Meh. Even if I wasn’t a life model, that shit wouldn’t particularly bother me. I don’t place a lot of my value as a person on whether I’m desirable to men. I do care whether I’m desirable to men I wanna fuck, but I seem to have an okay track record in that regard so again…meh.

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Peeple r dum

I’ve had this conversation with artists at my life modelling gigs like fifteen times now:

Artist: You’re so good at what you do! It takes a lot of physical strength to hold poses like that.

Me: It does! I’ve actually put on a lot of muscle since I first began.

Artist: So, you must [weight train/do yoga], then.

I don’t get it. These people know that my job is physically strenuous; they approach me just to tell me that they know this. I then tell them that doing this physically strenuous job has put muscle on me. Meaning: I was not very muscular before, and then I started modelling, and that got me in shape. Meaning: THE POSING IS THE WORKOUTHow is that not clear?

This exchange happened again last night and it continues to baffle me.

Maybe I’m just way too particular about semantics. If they’d asked “so do you weight train/do yoga on the side to help you do better in your job?” I would have understood that (and replied, “Well, no. Maybe I should, but I got to this point just by attempting more and more strenuous poses and that seems to have worked out well.”). But that’s not what they’re saying to me, and as it stands, there seems to be an assumption that I could not do this job of mine that requires muscles unless I were also working out. Which doesn’t make any damn sense. I’m sure these people wouldn’t approach someone weightlifting in a gym and go “Wow, you can bench a hundred pounds! That takes a lot of strength. You must work as a stockboy hauling around huge boxes all day or something.”

Weird.

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