In my last post I talked about forming a local guild for figure models with access for artists and groups as well. I have liberally lifted ideas from other people and guilds on how they work and how they are set up. The draw back for me is that I had to create something that worked with the amount of time I have currently have to devote to it, while making it appealing for the models. I thought I had everything worked out, but as we all know, you don’t have the bugs worked out the first time out and others are going to suggest changes.
I set up a site to handle the info. Tabs for current news, posts, female models, male models, art events, art/drawing groups info, policies etc and populated them with all the current info I had, again, lifting some info from other people and sites but just copying it. It was tweaked here and there to reflect our location. I stated the pay scales (more on that later!) what was expected of the models and also the artists and groups that want to hire them.
I did get and still have support from many artists and groups with the guild. Everyone was and still is very happy that something local is being created to help grow and improve the local model population. As I discussed with people, I also wanted to help teach new models and gently weed out the “not so good ones” or ones that were getting into it for the wrong reasons. I was and am still very aware that I don’t want to appear as playing God etc., and that many models in the area have more overall experience than I do, which is why I invited everyone to submit ideas and thoughts about the site that I could add. While I did receive a large amount of positive criticism and support, one particular model started out giving hints and tips that quickly became more like demands and admonishment, in particular the info I had posted about the pay scale that models should expect. I did more than a little research on the topic and found that most groups and classes pay anywhere from $45-$60 for a 3 hour session. The art college and city run classes pay roughly $16.75/hr, and the length of time varies which affects a model’s pay. A 2.5 hour session can pay $43.XX. The info was factual and correct but I was taken to task about it. I was admonished and told that this particular model was very concerned that by posting this, it would give the idea to other groups that pay more that they could be in fact, paying less. While I did not see this becoming an issue or a real concern, I did amend the info slightly and highlighted that groups generally paid $50-$60 a session which was generally 3 hours long. I was told by the model that contacted me that she has been paid upwards of $80 a session. While I will not call into question this statement, I did not add this info as 1.) I’m pretty sure it was a rare occurrence and I could not independently verify it, and 2.) I didn’t want the drawing groups feeling pressured into hiking their pay rates as I know that for many, almost all of the fee money they collect on a night goes to the model. Why make them either struggle to pay or be forced to hike their fee for artists and possibly lose some of them. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support models being paid a fair rate in line with the current trends but I’m not going to set out to try to encourage an overall price and pay hike for all. It will gradually increase and as I pointed out the person who was concerned, while I support fair pay, the number of models where I live compared to the number of sessions available will never allow (at this point) for a model to make a living from the fees.
I was also concerned about the support I would get from established models. I knew that most likely the newer models and anyone interested in being a model would be willing to be part of the guild but I am finding out that interest from established people is not high. I think part of this stems from many being comfortable with the way things currently are which is work is found by word of mouth or that they have all the contacts already and are established and don’t see the added value of being part of the guild. I don’t view word of mouth as being a great way to find work or to have artists and groups aware of new talent. While I have been told many times that my info will be shared, I have to guess that it stops there. There are the best of intentions but I found that a large majority of my work has been found by me looking for it, not waiting for someone else to tell someone else that I exist.
It’s going to take time to build a following and model base, I am and was prepared for that as much as I was prepared for the long slow climb when I started to model again. I just wanted to help others lessen their frustration in finding work and contacts. I don’t know if many good models may have quit due to the seemingly impenetrable cocoon built up about finding available work. If there have been, that has been a real loss to the artistic community.
While the model, pardon the wording, for the site will evolve over time as I can devote more time to it, as it stands, models e-mail me their info to post in the proper tabs. A concern was voiced, again by the same model who voiced a concern about pay scale, that having that info out for the world to see was not a good idea. I countered that they had the right to say exactly what was posted and how much info was on display. They can use first name only, and only an e-mail contact and/or a phone number as well. I ask for them to write up a short description of their experience etc just so it isn’t “Bob: email@example.com” under model info. For those that do not want their contact info posted, I have offered to have interested parties contact me though the site and I would pass along their info for the model. After that, it is up to the model as an adult to decide to contact the interested party etc. I placed a lot of info in a tab about common sense safety tips for models, asking for references, meeting in a public place to discuss the session and see/vet that they are genuine, asking to bring a chaperone with (and not to take work if this request is denied). I feel that the people involved in this are adults and they should be treated as such. I was a little annoyed that the concern seemed to focus only on the safety of female models, and particularly the younger ones and the person who was voicing the concern seemed to thing that all young people were blindly stupid about their personal safety. Also, I guess nothing bad can happen to a male model…in their mind. I want all models to be safe, not just one gender but people also have to use common sense. I know that it isn’t all that common these days.
I had to chuckle that after all the tips and ideas that I was given, I was told that they were more comfortable with the current system of “word of mouth” and that they would not be taking part in the guild. <insert rolling eyes here>. While I appreciated most of the info I was given, I was a little annoyed that someone would gripe about things to have them changed (for their benefit more than anything else) and then not take part. Oh well, live and learn. It got me down a bit but you just have to shake things like this off and continue on.