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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tips on How to Smile

One of the more interesting things about me is that I am a model. It’s not because I find it particularly fun or exciting, but because whenever I mention it to people it is always met with initial disbelief and then a long series of probing questions.

“Wait, you model?”


“Like, nude modeling?”


“Buck naked?”

“Completely bare.”

Then comes the deluge of questions. So to shed some light on the subject, I will attempt to address the more common questions about modeling to the best of my ability.

Let me start by saying that it has never been a sexual experience. Ever. Artists are more interested in the angle of my elbow and the contours of my back than anything else. If there has ever been any sort of sexual tension, I have never felt it, and if I did, I would give up modeling. I think artists know this, and so they band together to create the most a-sexual atmosphere possible for the sake of keeping their good models.

One might assume that when an artist is looking for a model they have something very particular in mind - long hair, tall, skinny, athletic, etc. This is not true. Artists generally aren’t picky about your appearance. When I ask them what they look for most in a model, the answer has consistently been: punctuality. As a class of people, models are generally very flakey, and artists know this. All they want is for you to be on time.

Hot or cold? Both. Artists are very concerned about your well being, and so if you start to get goosebumps, they will have so many heaters blaring on you so fast that within five minutes you have drips of sweat rolling down your spine. Other times, the air in the studio will be so cold that the heaters will only warm up a part of you. For example, I’ve stood on a platform in the middle of the room with my feet sweating from the heater but my shoulders freezing. You can’t always win this one, and you usually don’t.

Another area of mystery for the commonly clothed person is how to pick a pose. It’s certainly not Madonna’s notion of Vogue and striking poses. If you tense up any muscle, after about two minutes it will be shaking like a jackhammer. When choosing a pose, it is important to get something that is comfortable and relaxed. It’s usually good to make sure that all your weight isn’t concentrated on one point and is distributed somewhat evenly, otherwise when you step out of the pose – holy pins and needles Batman! Same thing goes for sitting poses. One time I did a pose where I was sitting with my head down on a desk, like you would do when you were a little kid and you got in trouble at school. When I got up, my legs were dead. I literally couldn’t move them, and I had to sit there rubbing them to get the circulation flowing again. Awkward.

I get paid. I do not model for free. I don’t know why people seem to think that it would be something I do for fun or charity, but it’s not. I enjoy my job, and I’ve met a ton of interesting and creative people doing it, but I don’t do this for free. The pay varies, but generally it is a well-paying gig. I’ve modeled for schools, studios, and artists one on one, on both coasts of the United States and Europe, for painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture. Depending on what the artists need, you get paid more.

People want to know if I get to see what artists create from me. It seems obvious, but really it depends. In a sculpting session, the media they are working with is three dimensional, so it is literally impossible to hide from me what they are making. In a drawing or painting class, I usually walk around during breaks and look at what people are doing. Most artists don’t have a problem with that.

Finally, yes, I do plan on becoming famous. One day a particularly talented artist will immortalize my being, and thousands of people a year will pass by my image in a prestigious art museum. Then I can tell you why Mona Lisa is smiling.

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