Drawing, painting or sculpting the human body is one of the most fundamental —yet one of the most challenging— projects for an artist, so practice is key. And that’s where you could come in: artists need real humans to re-create. This is one of my more exotic “make more” ideas, so I’ve got an exotic guest for you all the way from Australia, artist’s model Regina Kaloozny!
Let’s begin at the beginning. What made you want to be an artist’s model, also called an art model or Life Model?
I did want to be famous for something one day! The modeling was my plan B. If I didn’t make it as a big shot architect or artist, then hopefully some great artist some day would immortalize me in a masterpiece!
How did you get started?
The first time I tried to get into life modeling, it was exceptionally hard and I gave up after a few months of trying and getting nowhere. Many established places in Melbourne didn’t want to take someone without any experience… which meant that I couldn’t get the experience!
About 8 years later a friend at university was modeling and I asked her who to speak to at her regular modeling gig. The school gave me a go and I loved it. They recommended me and once I had a few places where I’d modeled, it became easy to get work.
Was it strange? That first time you modeled?
The very first time I modeled, I was in a pose and from the corner of my eye I saw all the people at the easels glancing at me again and again. I started wondering if I had something stuck on my face. I had completely blanked in my mind that the whole point was for them to look at me. They were drawing me!!
Now you are an architect. What made you continue with the art modeling?
I started this work when i was at uni. I did it a little bit while travelling through Europe (i figured it’s a good job when there is a language barrier). I don’t need the work but i really love it. I thought I’d give it up when i got my a job based around my degree but I missed it too much. I love modeling. I love drawing and I’m starting up a regional life-drawing business, bringing models to regional art communities.
I have to ask the question everyone is wondering: do you have to get naked to be an art model?
I get a lot of people asking me if they can model just the one time to face their fear of fully exposing themselves and experience feeling confident in their bodies. For me, I’m facing my fears by doing a public interview. Showing my body is not something I feel is revealing but talking is! And on that note of body confidence I still am really shy at the beach in my bathers. I don’t even have bikinis but there are no fears with going completely naked. I wear glasses and I generally take them off for modeling so I can’t really see the artists well anyway!
Is it better if the people seeing you nude are strangers? I know I’ve sunbathed topless in Europe, but would never do it in the U.S…
One time at my architecture job, a friend invited everyone from work —an office of 100+— to come draw with us that evening. He forgot I happened to be modeling at that place that night. I did freak out that my bosses, etc, would come see me naked. Mixing the modeling with my corporate world is not something I’ve done yet – It would, in fact, make the others more uncomfortable, I think.
The other burning question: do you have to look like a supermodel to be an artist’s model?
The best thing about this job is that you distinguish yourself by simply being yourself. All of our bodies are unique; we have different shapes and also in the way we move and carry ourselves. Life Drawing groups like to draw various models because it gives them new challenges and new types of poses and shapes and volumes to draw. I’ve been modeling for almost 10 years now and I’ve seen my body change via people’s drawings. It’s a really interesting way to see yourself —through the eyes of others and their interpretation of that on paper/canvas.
How long do you have to hold a pose —and is it ever difficult?
Poses range from 30 seconds to 20 minutes (poses can be a whole day or even five weeks long but sittings are 20 minutes maximum so your body doesn’tget too stiff.
It takes ‘work’ to stay in your pose. Every now and again you’ll get an itch or something, but if you wait enough it will go away or otherwise people don’t mind if you have a scratch and resume your position quickly. Sometimes your body gets stiff, legs go to sleep, things go numb, you get pins and needles.
I am a fidgeter so I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to sit still for very long but it’s very different when you are a model.
But there was one time when you really DID have to move while modeling. Tell us that story.
The largest class I’ve ever modelled for had about 500 people. It was in Brisbane and they were trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records. I got a little sick and had to throw up. I had to run —naked— past all the drawers to find a bathroom, trying not to throw up before I got out of sight!
You’ve had lost of adventures thanks to art modeling. Tell us about your big radio interview last year.
I was asked last year to do an interview on one of the Australian radio stations when they were doing a segment about nudity and being comfortable in your body . They said they wanted to interview me while I was in the nude. I thought this was the funniest thing ever because who is going to know for certain whether I am naked or not through the radio. They actually did film it (from the back, shoulders upwards) and posted it onto their Facebook. I have to say – I have never had so much eye contact in my life as during that interview. It felt really good, like I was really being listened to!
Time for the impolite question I ask all my guests: How much money can you make as an artist’s model?
In Melbourne, a life model society exists that has regulated a minimum pay of $35/hr and a mininum 2 hour shift. In regional Victoria we are paying $40/hr because of the extra travel time or petrol and some places have a travel allowance of up to $20. Most of the shift are 2 hours so unless you can get yourself a lot of shifts a day that are close to each other or are lucky enough to find all-day work at workshops, it’s mostly a side job for extra cash for most people. Photography models do get more $75/hr.
Of course, Regina is quoting Australia dollars. If you convert that to U.S. dollars, her $35 dollars an hour is $27 an hour here. I also confirmed with some American art models who say the pay typically ranges from $15 to $30 an hour, depending where in the country you work. What has this extra money meant to you, Regina?
When I’ve been budgeting, I’ve used modeling money as my spending and going out money. At one or two schools I’ve received discounts to participate in the classes as an artist which is a perk. During 20 minute sittings, I’ve taken to meditating. Sometimes I’ll get myself so busy I’ll have no time to myself, but if I happen to be booked in for a modeling session, I get excited that I’ll have some ME time to reground myself —while I’m getting paid!!
Do you model for love or money?
It seems like a shallow sort of job! You sit around in the nude looking pretty. But I’ve found it one of the more meaningful jobs I’ve done. People get a lot of joy out of doing art and as a model you are giving them an opportunity to do it. Also, generally people who go to an art class are there to enjoy themselves so there is such a wonderful vibe in the room. Normal work stresses are missing and everyone is appreciative of you posing for them… It’s a great energy to be around.
For others who would like some of that energy, let’s share some advice. First you say, attend a life drawing class to see what it’s all about.
Yes, go draw at a life drawing class —or 2 or 3— to see what other models are doing and also to get an understanding of what the drawers themselves want.
You say look through art books. What are we looking for?
Flick through art books and see what poses the great artists have immortalized. These are interesting poses.
Next, you suggest people try out some poses.
Sit still in poses you think you might like to do while you watch TV to see if your body can hold it. Don’t push yourself to do poses that are too difficult for you just because you think they might look good. Artists need you to stay still and if something is too hard for you you’ll fall out of it and also the strain will show. A model’s energy does affect the class.
Where might people look for art modeling work?
Here in Australia there are life modeling agencies. But if there aren’t any of those where you are, I suggest contacting art schools, colleges and universities.
Check out this list of places in the U.S. that hire artist’s models.