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How to work as an art model

Updated on October 9, 2013

Working as an Art Model

Working as a live model for art classes can be a fun an exciting way to earn extra cash. You will get to be involved in your local art community, meet interesting people, and get paid for literally just sitting there. However, the job has some serious drawbacks as well, and isn't for everyone.

Many people are interested in working as an art model, but do not even know where to start. Sometimes people think that working as an art model is a fun and easy job, but it can be difficult to sit still for so long in a room full of strangers staring at you.

This article will explain some of the benefits and drawbacks of working as an art model. It will is also give you tips for looking for work as an art model.

Photo Credit: Oil Paints by Karendalzier
Photo Credit: Oil Paints by Karendalzier

What is an Art Model?

What are art models expected to do?

An art model is a live model that poses for an art class. When artists study figure drawing, many prefer to study from a live model. It is common for classes to hire a model for the students to practice drawing from life. The classes might be for drawing, painting, or sculpture.

Sometimes the art model just comes for one session, and sometimes they are needed to come one or two days a week for an entire class session.

What Does Working as an Art Model Pay?

How much money do art models earn?

You won't get rich working as an art model. Most classes pay about $15 per hour.

However, even an experienced art model will not be able to work very steady hours. Many cities only have so many art classes in them, and the artists prefer to have a variety of different models to study. If a particular instructor likes you, they will hire you repeatedly, but it might not be for several months.

Art classes typically last for three hours or so, so you should expect to earn between $40-$50 per session. The model is not traditionally tipped, and you do not receive any of the completed paintings when the class is over.

Photo Credit: Palettes by Karendalziel via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Palettes by Karendalziel via Flickr Creative Commons

What are Art Models Expected to Do?

What is working as an art model like?

The model is normally expected to sit or stand in front of the class, very very still. Normally every 20 minutes the model is given a five minute break to move around and stretch out a bit. Some classes do a series of fast figure drawings, where the model is expected to hold a series of poses for five minutes each.

The model is not allowed to talk or move around. It can be very difficult to hold a pose for that long, especially in odd positions.

Everyone in the room will be staring at you, which can be very unnerving. Sometimes the teacher will point and specific physical features in order to instruct an artist.

Am I Supposed to be Wearing Clothes?

Uhhhh.... aren't art models normally nude?

Ultimately, that question is up to you. Most artists are pretty serious about their work, and are in the figure drawing classes to learn, not to be ummmm....... entertained. However, if you are uncomfortable with posing nude, that is entirely your right. Many classes will hire clothed models to pose for them, especially to practice drawing faces. Make sure the instructor knows in advance that you will not be willing to pose nude.

If you are unwilling to pose nude, consider bringing with you an interesting clothing item. Wear plain clothes such as jeans and a shirt that is vibrant but only one color. Plain Ts and V necks are popular. Bring with you an interesting outfit that you have, if you happen to have one. For example, if you dance, you could bring your dance outfit with you, or if you are in theater, a costume. Let the teacher know that it is an option, if they want you to change into it. Many artists enjoy painting pictures of people in their ballet outfits.

If you do not have any of those things consider either dangly earrings that are unique, or bringing a simple scarf that can be arranged around your neck in a way that will add visual interest. Women should come with their hair down, but bring a pony tail holder and be prepared for the teacher to ask you to pull it back out of your face.

What About Photography?

Artists may want to take photographs to finish their projects

Many artists will not finish their painting or drawing during the time allotted for the class. They will want to take photographs of you so they can take them home and finish their project.

If you are uncomfortable with having photographs taken of you, discuss it first with the instructor of the class. For informal classes, such as weekly Saturday morning classes, most people will not have a problem with this. For more formal classes, they might require you to agree to be photographed. You can also say that you only want to be photographed when you are fully clothed.

Remember, the artists will probably upload their photos onto their computers at home to finish their work. They may have shared computers and other people might see the photographs.

Also remember, the artists are drawing a picture of you. They might put that picture in a gallery, take a photo of the painting to put on their website, or enter it into a contest.

You can use what is called a model release, which is a legal document that says what the artists do and do not have your permission to use your image for.

Photo Credit: Paint brushes by Karendalzier
Photo Credit: Paint brushes by Karendalzier

How do I Find Art Model Jobs?

Finding your first job as an art model

There are lots of agencies, but that is really not necessary.

If you make a few phone calls you will probably find a job pretty quickly. Call the local art schools and say that you are looking for work as an art model. Call any local artists that you know, and any local art supply stores.

Normally the art classes have a difficult time finding people who are willing to model for them, and once you get the word out you will start getting phone calls asking for you.

Guestbook Comments

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    • spikeyflower profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: Thank you. I appreciate that.

    • spikeyflower profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @SteveKaye: You are exactly right, and a surprising amount of senior citizens are models for art classes. They might want to chose sitting down poses, or bring a pillow to sit on during the class, but otherwise it is a great opportunity for them get out and meet some new people while earning a little bit of money.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the information about how to become an art model, I learn a lot!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This could be a great job for senior citizens. Their faces contain a life history, which could challenge any artist.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      You did a good job of discussing what is to be expected of an artist model. Nicely done. Blessed.


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