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Getting portrait models and career related Qs...

CarmelCarmel -
edited January 2015 in General Discussion
Hi guys, I hope this post finds you all well.

I was hoping you could give me some advice. I'm trying to get a portfolio together of paintings so that I can finally start doing what I want with my life; painting full time. Unfortunately, it feels like a mammoth task. I want to be working part time by September and at least three quarters time for my paintings. My experience at university led to my current situation; I felt that art couldn't be a proper career and that I should try something else. About 6 months after university I found my love for art again and have felt like I'm running to catch up ever since.

When I went to university, they taught us that you got exhibitions by getting a group of friends together and paying a gallery to use their space for your work. If you sold anything, the gallery took a cut of that and you were on your merry way. Painting had to subsidized by teaching or other jobs. We had to do this as part of the third year of our course. I didn't enjoy the experience, it felt a lot like vanity publishing and I don't see this as a sustainable business plan. Moreover, there was very little traffic to these kind of galleries. The establishment wasn't even mentioned and as a result, I don't know how to approach them.

I'm told that to get even a look at the establishment, you need to have a coherent body of work; I think the black and white portraits I have are a step towards that. But I'm struggling now with getting people to sit for portraits. What I want to ask you all is for some advice for getting portrait models and sitters? Whenever I casually ask friends they say yes they will and it never comes to fruition or they just refuse point blank, citing displeasure at their own face. I know how they feel in a way; I'm sick to death of painting self portraits for lack of other subjects.

So yeah; how do you get subjects for your portraits and what other advice do you think you can offer me?

edit: I'm not in the habit of making negative posts, but I really do feel isolated from the rest of the painting world.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited January 2015

    Join a drawing / painting group. Most have both short and long pose sessions for both figure work and portraits. Many artists are willing to pose if you would return the favour at a future date. Also a good place to negotiate private pose sessions with professional models of your choice.

    Work from live sessions supplemented by photographs for use in your studio.

    Offer prospective models a mutually beneficial contract - canvas giclees, framed photos, percentage cut on sale price, free lunch etc

    Many small business owners would love to have a portrait for their office, study or boardroom. Join a Rotary Club to get to meet a large group of prospective clients.

    Similar potential exists in hospital boards, sporting clubs, old folks centres, church groups ....I think you get the picture.

    I don't know where you are located, but the guys and gals here will have solved all of your problems already ---


  • Thanks Denis :D

    For the time being I'm in Spain. When I moved here I got in touch with one artist's workshop and was disappointed. During the winter I got tied up with work and haven't
    looked for one since. Remiss of me. I'll try and get in touch with some more people.

    What you said about small business owners is very appealing. I've a mind to approach some small business owners for ref. pictures anyway, but I like where that could go.

    One problem for me in both these situations is the language barrier =_=

    A question, what are the rates for professional models over in the US? I don't know what prices people charge but if I were to ask people to pose for me in return for money then it'd be nice to know what the going rates are.
  • Carmel

    I'm in Australia. The fee is $26 p/h on the basis that there will be a three hour session.

    My drawing groups charge each participant $20 for a session and usually there are ten to fifteen artists with pencils, paintbrushes, digitising tablets, charcoal and iPads. The balance of the cash is used for facility fees.

    The clue here is to get a group of artists to share the model fees and using someone's
    studio there is plenty left for drinks and nibbles.

    Get yourself a learn Spanish App and resolve to learn 10 words a day. A couple of hundred words will allow basic conversation in a couple of weeks.

  • in addition to Denis, i have no personal experience with models but i did get one to agree to pose for me, sitting was too restrictive for her schedule. here in usa you can hire them by advertising online, in newspaper, bulletin boards etc. or model agencies. as for getting discovered many enter art shows and find galleries to represent them.
    there is a translation app for iPhone. you speak and it translates into any language for the listener and they do the same back. sorry i don't know its name but a trainer demonstrated it and it worked. good luck.
  • CarmelCarmel -
    edited January 2015
    Thanks guys :D
    I'll keep the language learning tips in mind :smile: I'm considering advertising for a model at some point.

    I actually have a few ideas about going into some local businesses here and asking to take ref. photos for paintings then giving them a print etc. - does that sound reasonable?

    I really want to get a portfolio together and start doing this full time.

    I have another motive; I want to study classical art in London and want to apply for funding for that, which requires some solid work.

    In other news, I did a still life today that I'm really happy with. I'm waiting for a day before I post it online but it felt really good. :D
  • edited January 2015
    @Carmel‌ you may want to check this site . When you go to the BROWSE page you can specify what you are looking for: female/male, country/city, etc., etc..
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