What Is An Art Model? (With Skills And Steps To Become One)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Art modelling professionals pose for various artists who want to capture the human form for their art projects. It is essential that these models look at themselves as a work of art and have the confidence to pose for several art professionals or students. Understanding the career path and responsibilities of this profession may help you determine if you wish to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss what an art model is, outline the steps to become one, share their responsibilities and provide answers to some related frequently asked questions.

What Is An Art Model?

An art model is a person who presents themselves for artists to draw, sculpt, paint or photograph. These models often pose for individual artists, but several also pose for art students during classes. To enable artists to depict the lines and contours of their physique accurately, it is essential that these models feel comfortable posing in the same posture for extended periods. For example, they may pose for several days or weeks in a row with breaks for professional artists attempting to capture and finalise realistic sketches, paintings or sculptures.

What Does An Art Modelling Professional Do?

Typical responsibilities of these models may include:

  • Posing for professional and aspiring artists in studios or classrooms

  • Keeping poses or facial expressions for extended periods

  • Holding poses for students or professional artists individually for their paintings, drawings or sculptures

  • Maintaining a portfolio of work for completed art modelling projects

  • Changing the facial expression, pose and gesture to display the impression the artist requires

How To Become This Type Of Model

A model usually fulfils a few qualifications before they begin posing for art students or professional artists. These include:

1. Complete a senior secondary education or equivalent

While you do not usually require formal education to pursue a career in modelling, it is good to have at least a senior secondary education or its equivalent. You require the basic skill set to read and understand contracts and budget your income and expenditure. This makes it important to have at least basic language and maths skills. If you want to pursue a career in this field, you may start early by taking art classes or volunteering to model for junior art students.

2. Audition

Most art modelling jobs require you to audition before they hire you for the role. Prospective employers may ask you to pose in different postures and wear several outfits. They try to understand the body shape, posture and shadows your body casts in different lighting. This helps them know if you are a good candidate for the art, they wish to produce for themselves or their students to create.

Related: How To Become A Model: A Step-By-Step Guide

3. Be able to maintain poses for up to 20-25 minutes at a time

Models posing for art hold their poses for up to 20 to 25 minutes, with breaks between poses. Any alteration in the model's positions may change the shadows and contours, which makes it difficult for the artist to capture the model's form correctly. These professional models require good stamina to hold poses for an extended period, as it takes a lot of energy.

Related: List Of 15 Art Therapy Types (With Definition And FAQs)

4. Build a portfolio of work

Building a solid portfolio can help models provide a reference for prospective employers. Consider investing in a photographer to take professional shots of the different poses you can hold, or you may even photograph artwork that you may have previously modelled. Some models create websites to demonstrate their work and provide brief biographies about themselves to attract prospective employers. Having a website for your portfolio of work helps artists, instructors, studios or other employers to locate you and offer jobs. You can include the following elements in your portfolio:

  • A personal introduction

  • Your previous experience or background

  • Letters of recommendation or references

  • A demonstrated understanding of how the business works

  • Requests for your preferred work

  • Examples of prior work (after getting artist approval)

Related: How To Create A Modelling Portfolio: 14 Best Portfolio Tips

5. Get letters of recommendation

When applying for new positions, you may keep letters of recommendation from previous artists and art teachers you have worked with to add value to your application. These recommendation letters can give prospective employers an idea about your expertise and professionalism. It also outlines why they believe you are a great candidate for the job.

Related: How To Write An Official Letter: Format, Types And Example

Skills Required For Successful Art Modelling

Art modelling professionals usually require a specific set of skills and attribute to be successful in their positions. This includes:


Confidence is an essential attribute for art modelling professionals to have, as they pose in front of people and have people observing them closely. Having a confident personality can also help you communicate with artists as and when required during posing sessions. It is also essential to be confident to wear all types of apparel and carry them with grace and elegance.

Related: What Is Self-Confidence? (Definition And Tips To Improve)

Physical stamina

Art modelling professionals often hold the same pose for extended periods. This requires the model to have the good physical stamina to stand, sit or lie down in various positions for as long as the instructor or artist requires. Sometimes the poses can be strenuous on the limbs and other body parts, and if you cannot hold the poses per role requirements, it is important to inform the employer ahead of time.

Organisational skills

Art modelling professionals may often have several gigs each day or week. It is important to manage portfolios and schedules effectively to continue booking jobs. Being on time and managing time effectively also helps them to remain professional.

Related: What Are Organisation Skills? (Plus How To Improve Them)

Listening skills

When posing for artists, instructors and students, it is essential to listen closely to instructions about the position of their bodies during their modelling sessions. This helps the artist to capture all the required forms and expressions. Active listening skills and the ability to follow directions can help you succeed in this role.

Frequently Asked Questions About Art Modelling

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about a career in art modelling:

1. What is a typical day like for an art modelling professional?

Art modelling professionals often work in a studio posing in the centre of the room for art students. There is generally a brief warm-up period for the artist to do quick sketches of different poses in short increments. Once they complete the warm-up, art modelling professionals hold their poses for an extended period, with brief breaks. They hold their facial expressions and stay still so that the artist may accurately capture the form to create an artistic product.

Usually, when an individual artist or other professional commissions a model, they may have more privacy than a model who works in a classroom setting. Often the projects last longer for commissioned models, and the artist requires them to hold poses in various settings for extended periods.

2. What is the typical work schedule for an art modelling professional?

An art modelling professional's typical schedule can depend on the artists with whom they work. They mainly organise their work according to the artist's requirements and the models who pose for art classes set their schedules according to the class timetable. As a result, they may often work on weekends or in the evenings.

3. Who employs art modelling professionals?

Art modelling professionals are usually freelancers or self-employed. Most art modelling professionals work with professional sketch artists, local art studios, painters and photographers. They may also have recurring jobs with art schools or other institutes that employ modelling professionals. The pay rate for these professionals may vary, as many models are freelance workers with different experience levels. The average salary they can earn also depends on the project duration, experience level and who they are posing.

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