Recently on Facebook, a friend asked how he may approach women about posing for him without sounding like a creep. I enjoyed reading the responses, which varied, in the spirit of Facebook, from “I long to have your curves on my canvas” to “Have your business card and smartphone ready with images of your work.” I chimed in at one point. Then I really got to thinking about what I do because I often ask strangers to pose for me. These encounters fall into one of two categories, which I call the post office or café. If it’s the first, then, there’s time only to make small talk like when we’re caught in line waiting to ship a package. In this scenario, I simply state that I’m an artist and that I’m interested in doing a portrait painting of the person. Mentioning the project that I’m developing helps to put my proposal to the model into context. I offer my business card encouraging the person to view my website or to look me up on social media. If he or she finds my work interesting, I assure the person that I’d like to hear from them. I also mention that I’m happy to provide references. I’ve discovered that I get a call or email about 50% of the time via the post office scenario.
|Portrait painting of Mr. Oklin Bloodworth, after our first session.
I met Oklin at a café in Madera, CA.
The second approach commonly happens in coffee shops, where I often go when I’m advancing drawings between portraiture sessions with models. Of course, working in a coffee shop, I have to draw on a small scale. As you must know, painting or drawing is great for attracting conversation from strangers. They’re naturally curious about the work and what I do as an artist. If I’m interested in the person posing for me, I make it a point to state that most of my models are people that I meet at random and I mention positive experiences about posing for portraits. Usually, my fellow coffee drinker engages with her own questions about my process. As we develop a rapport, it becomes natural to ask if she would be interested in participating in my project. Sometimes, it’s my new friend who volunteers to pose even before I can put forth the question.
|Portrait painting of Tamar. I approached her via
direct message on Facebook.
Social media is another great forum for soliciting models. An easy approach is to post a call for models with a brief description about the planned drawing or portrait painting. I also send direct messages to Facebook friend who interest me for portraiture even if it is a nude portrait. I include links to my website as well as online articles and interviews about my work. The key is to provide the potential model with a thorough but brief portfolio of information about who I am as a professional artist and what I do.
Whichever method is most comfortable for you, the most important quality that you can convey to a stranger is honesty and passion about your work. The two make a great impression upon anyone whom you might consider as a model. Even if you don’t gain a model, these interactions allow you to succeed in presenting yourself as a positive and enthusiastic artist. Perhaps you gain a fan or even a collector of your work. There are many possibilities when introducing yourself in a such a positive spirit.