The human body is a beautiful thing and has inspired artists and creative minds for centuries. Nude sculptures and paintings date back to ancient Greece, proving that the human form is something to be appreciated.
If the scene in Titanic where Leondardo Dicaprio’s character sketches a nude picture of Kate Winslet piqued your interest, then this article is for you. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about becoming a nude art model. While it may seem easy to just sit, stand, or lie there while someone sculpts or draws your naked body, a lot more goes into it than you realize.
So, get ready to shed your clothes and your inhibitions as we explore the world of becoming a nude art model.
A nude art model acts as a muse for a class of art students. Drawing the human form is one of the most basic, but difficult, techniques that any artist will learn. Everyone’s body is unique with different curves, skin tones, lines, crevices, and more. Light reflects differently off different colors of skin and parts of the body. It takes years of practice to master this art form and you know what they say – practice makes perfect!
There’s no replica for the real thing, which is why many art teachers hire real-life models to pose for their class in the nude. Being a nude art model takes confidence, patience, and a deep understanding of your body, including how it looks from different angles and how it moves. Some models also need a high tolerance for pain and discomfort, with some models holding the same pose for hours at a time! This takes both mental and physical strength and patience.
If you think you have what it takes to be a nude art model, you need to know where to look for job opportunities. Like most other job opportunities, schools, universities, and art colleges will post open positions on popular apps like Indeed and Craigslist. Check here first for modeling opportunities in your local area.
You can also reach out directly to local schools and institutions. You may feel more comfortable going this route, given the risk of online scams. Select schools with well-known art programs and continuing education opportunities. Try calling the art department to find out who you need to speak with. Sometimes, there’s an art department chairperson or the school might advise you to contact each individual teacher. You can also contact local studios or art galleries that host drawing classes and courses.
Artmodeltips.com is another great resource for finding nude art model jobs. The website is broken down by state and lists recent drawing classes that are looking for models. You can also use the website’s homepage directory to find other online modeling opportunities.
Once you get someone on the phone, ask important questions that give you a better idea of the job description. Some examples include:
Keep in mind that your first nude art model gig will be the hardest. After you take your clothes off in front of a bunch of strangers who are examining every inch of your body, you start to become more confident and comfortable with the process.
Most nude art models are paid by the hour. This is known as an hourly sitting rate and can vary significantly depending on the type of class, where it’s being held, and your experience. Most nude art models make between $15 and $25 per hour. While this may not sound like a lot, you can make between $50 and $100 per day for a longer modeling session. You can also book several jobs in one day. In many cases, if the teacher and students enjoy working with you, you’ll receive a callback or referrals. In some cases, it’s better to book numerous lower-paying jobs per week than try to book higher-paying jobs that are few and far between. Most people use nude art modeling as a side hustle rather than a full-time gig.
The good news is that you don’t need to be of a certain gender, height, weight, age, or ethnicity to get hired as a nude art model. In fact, most art schools and studios welcome diversity and love giving students the opportunity to draw models of all different shapes and sizes.
The fact that you don’t have to be 5 '10”, weigh 120 pounds or have size DD breasts to be a nude art model is just one lesser-known fact about this business. Here are a few more important things to know before you dive into a career in nude modeling.
While you don’t need to be an art student yourself to model for a class, having a little bit of art knowledge does help. Understanding the basics of drawing a nude model will help you, as the model, pose in flattering yet challenging ways. It’ll also help you to better understand the angles, shadows, and lighting students need to accurately draw their bodies.
Nude models are asked to pose in a variety of different positions using different props. It’s important to be prepared for anything. There’s a difference between short gesture poses and longer poses and you should know what that is. Short gesture poses are considered a warm-up for both the students and the model. Nude art models will hold a variety of poses for anywhere between 15 seconds and 3 minutes a piece. On average, your short poses should last about one minute. The tricky part about this is that you aren’t given any direction or instruction from the class or teacher. It’s up to you to seamlessly transition from one short gesture pose to another without disrupting the flow of the class or the pupil’s concentration. During each short pose, you should already be brainstorming your next one.
When in doubt, just move! Look up videos for inspiration. Dancers, fitness models, and athletes all offer creative inspiration for beautiful and unique ways to pose and hold your body. Think about moving on a dance floor or during a sporting event and how you would look if you just stopped and froze at any given moment. That’s what a short gesture pose looks like.
You can also create poses that fall into several different categories including standing, lying down, sitting, and kneeling. Now, expand on these basic poses by considering a front view vs a back view, a pose from the side, or your back to the crow while looking over your shoulder. Position your arms and legs in different ways, with one bent and the other straight. This adds depth to the scene and helps the students practice foreshortening. Play around in the mirror and experiment before settling on a few “go-to” poses.
Look around you for inspiration or bring some with you in the form of props and accessories. Although you don’t want to add too much to the scene and take away from your own natural beauty, a few strategically placed props can add a little personality to the session. Nearby furniture can double as a prop and much-needed support when recreating complicated poses. Some props you might notice in an art studio include low benches, a rod or bar, and an armchair or lounge chair.
Focus on mastering your short poses first because, after that, it’s all about holding your position for 20 minutes or longer.
You might think it’s easier to hold a single pose for an extended period of time vs changing every few minutes but the truth is, it’s actually much more grueling. Some poses require more strength and flexibility and are overly complicated, while others are more basic. Regardless of the type of pose you’re holding, if it’s causing circulation issues, you’re going to be uncomfortable. You can expect your hands and feet to go numb and your muscles to cramp at any given moment.
The best way to avoid breaking character or leaving your next nude art model gig in pain is to understand which poses are more comfortable and less taxing on the body. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Avoid pressing your limbs into especially hard and unforgiving surfaces with sharp edges. Bring a pillow, blanket, or towel just in case. Avoid sitting too close to the edge of a chair where the edge will push into your tailbone. Don’t bend your knee or wrist in an awkward position that is unsustainable.
The good news about this pose is that it’s not common or natural to lock your knees so the chances of you getting stuck in this position are low. However, if you’re nervous or caught off guard, you might find yourself standing straight with your knees locked in place. And while this may not seem terribly uncomfortable, by the time you’re ready to move 20 to 30 minutes later, chances are, your knees will be painfully stuck in this position and your legs may even buckle beneath you. Always keep your legs slightly bent to prevent poor circulation which could cause you to faint. Locked knees are also unhealthy for your joints.
Speaking of fainting, this is one of the worst things that can happen to any nude art model. Not only is it embarrassing but dangerous. It may also tell the students and art teacher that you’re not the right model for the job. Having body awareness is an absolute must for becoming a nude art model.
If you’re sitting for a few hours at a time, you’ll need a break. Don’t be afraid to ask for time to use the bathroom, hydrate, or have a small snack. While most art classes are quiet, speak up when you need to. If you need to readjust your pose, shake out your arm or leg, or reposition yourself, give the students a heads up before doing so but always put your health first.
Confidence is another form of body awareness that’s a must-have for becoming a nude art model. You can’t be shy or reserved about taking your clothes off in front of strangers. While this may go without saying, some people don’t realize just how embarrassed or apprehensive they’ll be once the time comes to disrobe and reveal themselves. Practice plenty of poses in front of your mirror at home and get comfortable with your naked form before trying to book any gigs.
Nude art modeling, in some ways, is an interactive experience. Although there’s not a lot of chatting going on during your session (you don’t want to distract the students), some conversation can be beneficial for everyone. Just as you may be hesitant to speak up, the students are probably equally as nervous. Help encourage them and make them feel comfortable by asking what they need from you. For example, between breaks, ask the students if there’s anything they’d like you to do differently before getting started again. By asking questions, you help the students feel more comfortable about making requests and asking for minor adjustments. When in doubt, ask the teacher if it’s okay for you to interact and engage with the class.
If you’re looking to make a little extra cash and have no qualms about letting it all hang out, then being a nude art model might be the perfect side hustle for you. Colleges, art schools, and studios are always on the hunt for qualified and confident nude models. Start researching available gigs online or calling your local schools directly. Practice posing in the mirror before your first session and choose positions that you’re confident you can hold for long periods of time. Now, the only thing left to do is get comfortable in your own skin and show yourself to the world – literally!