What Is an Art Model?

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 22, 2021

Art models pose for a variety of artists who are interested in capturing the human form for their art projects. These models must look at themselves as a work of art and possess the confidence to pose for many art students or art professionals. Understanding the art model career path and responsibilities may help you to decide if you'd like to pursue this career path.

In this article, we discuss what an art model does, their average salary, their qualifications and answers to frequently asked questions about a career in art modeling.

What is an art model?

An art model is someone who presents themselves for artists to draw, paint, sculpt or photograph. Art models often pose for individual artists, but many also pose for art students during classes. Art models must be comfortable posing in the same position for long periods of time to allow artists to capture the lines and contours of their physique. They may pose for days and weeks in a row for professional artists who are trying to capture and finalize realistic paintings, sketches or sculptures.

What does an art model do?

Common responsibilities an art model may have include:

  • Posing for aspiring and professional artists in classrooms or studios

  • Holding poses or facial expressions for extended periods of time

  • Posing for students or professional artists individually for paintings, drawings or sculptures

  • Changing poses, facial expressions and gestures to display the impression the artist wants

  • Maintaining a portfolio of work for completed art modeling projects

Average salary for art models

The average income of an art model is $25.75 per hour, and some salaries for models range from $7.25 to $778.70 per hour. The pay rate for art models may vary since many models are freelance workers with various levels of experience. The amount an art model earns likely depends on the length of the project, their experience level and who they are posing for.

Related: 10 High-Paying Jobs for Art Majors

Art model qualifications

An art model must usually fulfill a few qualifications before they can begin posing for art students or professional artists, including:

1. Complete a high school diploma or equivalent

The minimum required education for art models is a high school diploma or GED. Individuals who want to be art models may begin in high school by taking art classes or volunteering to model for beginning art students.

2. Audition

Most art modeling jobs require you to audition before getting hired. Employers may ask you to pose in several positions and wearing different outfits. They want to get an idea of your body shape, posture and the shadows your body casts in different lighting. This helps them to see if you are a good candidate for the art they want to produce for themselves or for their students to produce.

3. Be able to hold poses for 20 seconds to 25 minutes at a time

Art models stay in a variety of positions for up to 25 minutes at a time, with breaks in between poses. Any shift in the positions of their bodies may change the shadows and contours, which makes it difficult for artists to capture the model's form correctly.

4. Build a portfolio of work

Art models should focus on building a portfolio that they can show employers to book new jobs. They may do this by hiring a photographer to take pictures of the different poses they can hold, or they may photograph artwork that they have modeled for. Some art models create websites to showcase their work, and they provide short bios about themselves to attract potential employers.

5. Get letters of recommendation

When applying for positions, art models may need letters of recommendation from artists and art teachers they've worked with to display their professionalism and expertise.

Related: How to Find the Best Jobs for You

Frequently asked questions about art modeling

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about being an art model:

  • What skills or attributes should art models possess to be successful in their positions?

  • What is a typical day like for an art model?

  • What is the typical work schedule for an art model?

  • Who uses art models?

  • Do art models need to look a certain way to book jobs?

What skills or attributes should art models possess to be successful in their positions?

Art models need to have a specific set of skills and attributes to be successful in their positions, such as:

Physical stamina

Art models must pose for extended periods of time. This means that models need to have the physical stamina to sit, stand or lay down in various positions for as long as the artist or instructor requires. Some poses are strenuous on the limbs and other body parts, and models who can't stay in poses for longer than 20 minutes should let their employer know ahead of time.


Confidence is an important attribute for art models to have since they must pose in front of people and have people looking at them closely.

Organizational skills

Art models may have several gigs each day or week, and they need to manage their portfolios and schedules effectively to continue booking jobs.

Listening skills

When posing for artists and students, art models must listen closely to directions and instructions about the position of their bodies during their modeling sessions.

What is a typical day like for an art model?

Art models often work in a studio posing in the center of the room for art students. There is typically a warm-up period for artists to do quick sketches of various poses in short increments. Once the warm-up is complete, art models must hold poses for longer periods of time with short breaks in between. They stay still and hold facial expressions so art students may accurately capture the human form to add to their artistic abilities.

Models who are commissioned by professional or individual artists may have more privacy than a model who works in a classroom setting, but commissioned art models may have to pose in a variety of settings for the artist, and the projects may last longer and require them to pose for longer periods of time.

What is the typical work schedule for an art model?

The typical schedule for an art model varies depending on who they work for. They mostly schedule their work according to what the needs of the artist are, and art models who pose for classes set their schedules according to the class schedule. They may work evenings, weekends or during the day.

Who uses art models?

Art models are usually self-employed, although they may have recurring jobs for colleges and art teachers. Most art models work with local art studios, professional sketch artists, painters and photographers.

Related: How to Build Your Work Portfolio

Do art models need to look a certain way to book jobs?

Usually, art models of all ages and body types may apply for jobs posing for students, since students must learn how to draw a variety of living forms for classes. Professional artists and photographers may have specific features they are looking for in a model, but it varies depending on the artwork they are interested in producing.

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