Confessions of a Nude Artist's Model: Two Exhilarating Experiences

nude modelEver consider stripping down to make a buck? There's one job out there that involves nudity, but without the distressing (and often illegal) sexual element that comes along with being naked on the job. Here are two exhilarating stories of women who conquered their embarrassment and became nude artist's models. Turns out it's a job that's good for both the pocketbook and the ego.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- and in my own eyes, too

A few years ago, I was working on my bachelor's degree, and like most students, I was poor. In the "Help Wanted" section of the school newspaper, I saw an ad for a model for an art class. It said "All ages and body types encouraged. Apply in person. $12/hr.," and it gave a room and building number on campus. I went.

I arrived to the office of a creepy old man who was, as it turns out, the director of the art department. Sensing my nervousness, we spoke of social pleasantries. After about five minutes, he offered to hire me – but he told me I'd have pose nude.

"It's simple," he said, with a slight Italian accent. "This is a gathering of intellectuals. You are not a sexual object to them, but a muse for art. They are going to scrutinize every inch of you, and they will portray your every imperfection. Can you handle this?"

I didn't know what to say except to quietly whisper, "Sure."

After looking me up and down with what I swear was x-ray vision, he said, "Can you sit still?"

Thinking he was talking about that very second, I stopped tapping my foot, which is my nervous tic. He rolled his eyes and said "No, not now. In front of 60 prying eyes?"

I shook my head at my own silliness and said, "Yes. Yes I can."

I realized he wasn't some weirdo-pervert when he chuckled and said, "OK. Write down schedule. We call you."

He did, indeed, call a week later. He gave me the appointed date and time, and told me to bring a robe.

And, despite knowing my dad would kill me for taking the job, one Tuesday morning, I walked into the director's office. He looked up upon my arrival and asked, "You are ready?"

I weakly said, "Yes."

He said, "Now when you stand in class, I pose you. I not touch you lady parts," at which point he looked up at me and laughed, then continued with, "but when I move you, you stay exactly as posed. OK?"

I gathered my aplomb and said, "OK."

Five minutes later he left the room to prepare his class. I slipped out of my clothes and into my robe. He came and got me, and I walked with him, barefoot, vulnerable, down the scary concrete hall. He led me into the room to the platform. He gave the class their assignment, and he gestured to me. I took a deep breath and did something I wasn't sure I could do until that moment -- I dropped my robe.

He yelled from the back of the room, "Draw as is!"

After 10 minutes of my standing completely still, which is a lot harder than you'd think, he stormed to the front of the room and moved me around like a Gumby doll to a different pose. To my surprise, it was easy. I couldn't see anyone in the class because of the lights, and thus, I didn't care. I let the lights shine on me, and for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful.

– By Melissa Makolin

I am a work of art

I'd never considered taking my clothes off for money.

That was before I walked into the employment center in Houston, Texas, to try and find some extra work. It was a day in the late summer, of a year when I was much younger and more persuadable by suggestion, easily flattered. A man who claimed to work for the center offered me some information on where I could find easy work posing for art classes. He mentioned that the positions were "nude optional," but that they paid more for a model sans clothes, which made my mind up for me. If I was going to do this, why not make the most from the experience?

The tip was legit; he really did work for the job center, and I got hired. The first class was a new experience for me. It was a part-time second job for me and they paid cash! As word of mouth spread that there was a new model in rotation, I began getting calls from more and more new artists who wanted to use me for their classes. Each new class was like starting all over again. New place, new set of faces. I soon found myself scheduling two classes a week, even three if I was lucky, and available. I continued working through my pregnancy and was in demand for classes 30 miles and more from my home base. I stopped for a while after I had my daughter, but a few years ago relocated to a new city and found myself in need of quick work. I phoned the local university's art department and got in contact with the gentleman that scheduled the models and was working again as a nude artist's model right away.

I never had any qualms about disrobing for the strangers in these classes, but I always wondered to myself what they thought of the tattooed, pierced girl who posed for them. I even came to enjoy conversing with the students while posing, which I could do as long as I didn't move.

Typically, my biggest concern was being able to hold whatever pose I had chosen. The shorter one- to-five-minute "warm-up" poses weren't so bad, but when it came to the 15-, 20-, even 30-minute stretches, I very quickly learned to find a position that was both visually pleasing for the class and comfortable for myself.

The more classes I posed for – and the more at-home yoga that I did – the easier posing became and I was able to offer myself in more physically-complex poses, to the delight of my artistic audiences. As posing became easier, I actually had to find ways to occupy my mind enough to keep me from falling asleep and losing the pose.

I always brainstorm the next pose that I will be doing for the class, to shorten my transition time. Then a myriad of things can run through my mind. A spontaneous haiku may formulate from looking at a tree swaying in the breeze, or a mental run-through of the day's chores to be done and the next bills to be paid. Music is always a plus! To add to my comfort during poses I usually bring a pillow from home to place under any pressure points that are going to be stressed.

The only moment I can say that was odd for me in my experience as a nude artist's model was when the university I was working with decided to update their school's brochures. They sent not one, but two photographers over to the art department to capture candid shots of the advanced class working on their live-model drawings. They were specifically told not to photograph me, as we were sure the school wouldn't want a naked woman in their brochure, but it became apparent that they were going for the best shots whether I was in them or not and so we had to ask them to stop shooting.

But other than that day, I find modeling nude has helped me be more confident in the beauty of my body, no matter what shape I happen to be in at the moment. I am still a work of art.

– By J. Sterling

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