Tag Archives: modelling

Meh.

Today’s art instructor rubs me the wrong way. Literally, almost; twice now she’s gone to point at some part of me while explaining stuff to the students and doinked me with her finger by mistake. She apologized both times, but still: there’s no excuse to fucking touch me. If you go to point and hit my skin by accident, you are¬†too close. And she should have goddamned figured that out after the first time.

She’ll also, like, walk across the room while I’m posing (to talk to a student on the other side or whatever) and pass by me uncomfortably close when there’s plenty of space around me that she could have used.

I don’t feel like any of this is a power play or a sexual attraction thing. Some instructors who behave like her definitely give me that vibe, but not this one. I think this chick just thinks of me as a bowl of fruit or something instead of a person – which in some ways is worse. A person trying to sexually intimidate me is at least seeing me as a human being with boundaries and preferences – even if they’re deliberately violating them. Today’s chick just flat-out dehumanizes me by not even thinking that I might not want to be touched, or that I might not enjoy her passing so close to my naked body that her sleeve practically brushes against my tits.

She also tends to micromanage me as if I’ve never modeled before. I forgave it the first time we worked together, since she didn’t know yet how competent I am, but she did it on subsequent sessions, too. Mind you, the second time we worked together she evidently thought we’d never met before. I’m six feet tall with technicolour hair and parts of my head shaved but why would she ever remember me, right? ūüėõ

And to be clear, I don’t mind if an instructor or artist has a very clear vision of what they want, and asks me “can you do¬†this pose?” (I might not always be able to do that exact thing they want, but I don’t mind people asking.) I also don’t mind people giving general suggestions of a mood or direction to face or whether to sit or stand or things like that.

But today’s chick will say “let’s do some five minute poses. And Cowgirl, could we maybe have you leaning on a chair for some of these?” – and she drags over a chair and demonstrates – “You could do¬†this or¬†this or…” YEAH THANKS I KNOW WHAT “LEANING ON A CHAIR” ENTAILS. I believe last time we worked together she asked for some five-minute poses and wanted them to include a reclining pose where I showed my back (and started launching into a big description of what that meant…) so I made the very first one a reclined back-pose and a few poses later she whined that she had wanted a reclining back-pose and I hadn’t given her one. Jesus Christ.

It’s a good-paying gig, though. And it’s in some rich lady’s house, in a room with comfy chairs and a fireplace. And I like all the artists, just not the instructor. So, y’know…I’m just gonna keep on hiding my irritation and being as sweet and professional as I can.

 

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Model Mayhem – first impressions

Modelmayhem.com is a social networking site for models, photographers, makeup artists, etc. I’ve known of its existence for years but never really poked around in there too much. Recently, an artist/photographer acquaintance of mine said I really should make a free account on there to promote myself as an art model. I thought the site was more for, y’know…fashion models, not so much life models, but he insisted that getting on there would probably help my career so okay. I’m on there now and have been having a look around.

I find it…depressing.

First off, I’ve learned to double-check people’s gender because a lot of male photographers use a picture of a woman’s face as their avatar. Because why bother taking a self-portrait for that when you could just decorate your profile with a photo you took of some chick, right? Everyone knows chicks are just decoration and that it’s totally not-weird to make people associate your name and identity with the face of an entirely different human being.

Secondly, a lot of photographers post photos of models without crediting the models at all. Which is rude as fuck because it prevents people who like the model’s look from being able to easily track them down and offer them gigs, and also gives the impression that the photographers think that it’s their own talent – and only their own talent – making the photographs good. Like they somehow manufactured these images of out of thin air and nobody else contributed at all.

And so many dudebro photographers’ galleries are full of pics with no particular artistic vision or skill involved beyond pointing the camera in the right direction and making sure it’s focused. Like…so many of these pics where the model is uncredited are just straight-on, full-body pictures of a hot woman standing around. And people are commenting “great shot!” on these photos and the photographer is like “thanks!” and nobody seems to be acknowledging that the model is literally the only thing making these photos at all interesting, not any big talent on the photographer’s part.

Does anyone remember the kids’ story Charlotte’s Web, in which Charlotte (a spider) makes friends with Wilbur (a pig)? My memories are hazy and I’ll be paraphrasing but at one point, I believe Charlotte saves Wilbur from the slaughter by spinning a web above his pen that says “SOME PIG.” A group of people notices the laudatory quote in the web and they’re like “well obviously the pig is special so we can’t kill him.” One person pipes up “Isn’t it the spider that’s kind of amazing here? After all, she figured out how to write human words using her butt.” But everyone else was like “Well that doesn’t make any sense. It’s clearly the pig who’s the special one. The spiderweb says so.”

You see where I’m going with this, right? Some photographers are, well…pigs. ūüėõ

As a life model I already am assumed to be simply raw materials for people’s art, and I’m mostly okay with that – especially since I primarily get drawn or painted, so if someone’s work is beautiful it really is mostly because of them. Photography feels like a whole different thing. In my view, a front-on, full-body photo of a pretty person is pretty because of the model. The model showed up and was pretty, and the photographer just managed not to fuck it up.

When there’s an interesting composition or interesting cropping or the photographer played around with depth of focus to really good effect or there’s some other thing about a photo that looks like an intentional choice, then the photographer is displaying talent. TBH though, a good model has lots of ideas of their own and knows how to pose well, so awesome photographs may well be more collaborative than you think.

tl;dr: MODELLING TAKES TALENT. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.

 

 

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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. ūüė¶

 

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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. ūüėÄ

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