I was just thinkin', reminiscing about my days as an artists' model. I primarily worked at art colleges, and occasionally for individual students. I got my start when a friend of mine who worked for a community college needed someone to cover for her for a few sessions. About a year later, I was living in Philadelphia and decided to apply at Moore, which is an all female art school. Before long, I had applied at and worked for every art school in the city (and a few universities outside of the city.) People would tell me all the time that I must have brass balls or something to get naked every day in front of a bunch of strangers! However, I didn't look at it like that... I was an art student once, and I already knew how important the figure models are. My body has a kind of unusual shape to it, so students and teachers alike were excited to draw/paint/sculpt my image... My body is able to create interesting shapes and values, so it's a bit more challenging for the students.
I was rather popular and got a lot of studio time, which meant that I was able to get paid like I was working a full time job, but I only had to go to work for a few hours, a few days a week. It always varied; sometimes I would work every day except the weekends, but I very rarely had to be at work for more than 6 hours a day. Sometimes I had sessions booked at 2 different schools on the same day, but they were all a quick bike ride or walk away from each other, so it was nothing to stress over.
I met tons of great and talented people; the students and the teachers were all very interesting and cool people. I never once had a bad situation with anyone (though there were a few teachers whose methods I disagreed with, but that has no real bearing on anything!)
I really owe my ability to have a positive body image to having been an artists model. I was always made to feel appreciated, inspiring, and, I was frequently told, "So much fun to draw/paint/etc"! I think that's one of the reasons why people tell me they could never do it, because they fear that people will make fun of them or something, but it's really the opposite. If you can be pleasant and engaging with the students and staff during breaks, can hold relatively still (and be able to return to the correct position), and be on time/reliable, then your experience as an artists' model will be very rewarding.
As an artist, it was also rewarding being in a school - sometimes I felt like I was getting paid to do yoga (or even fall asleep!) in art class! I learned quite a bit from being in classrooms even though I was modeling and not painting or drawing, I was picking up on what was being taught and methods that were being used.
I miss it. I really enjoyed this work, I felt it was as beneficial to me as it was to the students. I don't live in a city anymore, so I can't get to this type of job... It's kind of a bummer. When I first moved back to Massachusetts, I started calling around to art schools in Boston, but I realized that my commute wouldn't be worth it. I think I'm going to try Craigslist again... Even though I don't drive, I am close to Cape Cod and there are many artists in this area. While I do prefer working in an educational setting, I'm not against working with individual artists.
I'll let ya know how it works out. :)