To be a life model requires two difficult things: you must come out of that robe, and you must hold perfectly still. Both of these things are difficult… done together is an incredible challenge. In the end the only way to find out is to try…
Everyone who does life modeling can tell you how it was that they began in their craft. They could be an artist themselves, or have friends who are artists or models. Or maybe, they know nothing at all about art, and did something as simple as answering an advertisement. No matter how you are introduced, every model has the story of their first session. You can read mine on the musings page.
Motivations vary… love of art, thrill of the challenge, or even a simple need for the pay… all our legitimate reasons to aspire to this craft. Being an exhibitionist, while helpful to the task, cannot be a primary motivation. Posing for artists in the nude is a decidedly non-sexual activity. Of course there are famous stories of masters who were in love with their models, but modern life drawing is always a purely artistic endeavor. Anyone who sees it in a prurient light will find artist's welcome very brief.
If you are lucky, you may have access to a currently working life model. When I introduce new models to the craft, I bring them to a posing session I have already committed to. The protégé is able to experience their poses in a setting where I am responsible for all the contacts, the equipment, the logistics of the session itself, and all extraneous details. I also tell them that they can “tap out“ at any time, including inside a pose. My mantra is: “You are the boss of your body, and to pose in the nude is a privilege you give to artists… you are always in control.”
After a protégé completes a first pose, they return to their robe to decompress. I return to the dais and perform the next pose. Near the end (I watch my timer) I whisper to them, asking if they would like to do another. If 'yes' then off they go round 2! In this way a protégé gets to do four or five poses in their first session with no pressure, other than the realities of the poses themselves.
If they can maintain composure while completely naked in the presence of clothed artists, and then set and hold interesting poses well, then they have the right stuff. I offer them future work, take them on gigs of my own, and pass their names to coordinators at my venues. I have had three protégés as of this writing, and one experienced model who I introduced to “duo” posing.
Most of you reading this aren’t going to be this lucky. You’re going to have to decide you want to try this, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and find a gig. Like I did, you may have to show up with the basic equipment (robe, slippers, a towel to sit on, and most important: willingness) and then do a whole session by yourself. You may have to do every pose from the first to the last (1 or 2 minute gestures on up to 25-30 minute long poses) making them up out of your own head, or asking the artists for help creating them. Most artists are very friendly and helpful. A word of warning though... an artist's natural inclination is to desire the most dynamic pose. You must tell them what you think you can do without experiencing pain. Trial and error will teach.
Even if a 'solo' first gig is your fate, I will remind you of my mantra: you are the boss of you! To come out of your robe, strike a pose and hold perfectly still, is a gift that you give the artists. My experience is that they are very appreciative of the courage it takes to model nude the first time, and they will do everything to make your experience a positive one. It is as ‘charged’ and potentially rewarding for them as it is for you. And always remember, if you are in a pose and you become overwhelmed (even your very first one) it is always OK to put your robe back on and end the session.
For my part I hope you do not. I hope you find it as fulfilling as I have... 🙂