What RAM means to me, by Dominic Blake:
I have been life and portrait modelling for just over a year, and am now a full time life model, having left a conventional job to pursue my dreams of immersing myself more intimately within the artistic community. I would like to take a brief moment to write about what being a member of RAM means to me.
My first port-of-call on deciding I wanted to be a Life Model was the excellent Register of Artists Models' website, which provides a wealth of information and advice both for people who are new to Life Modeling and also for experienced Life Models. I devoured all of their articles and blog posts, and took the decision that once I was in a position to approach my career in a serious way, I would register for membership.
Soon after becoming a provisional member, I auditioned in London within a formal RAM Life Drawing class led by a very friendly and knowledgeable tutor, working with a female Life Model to recreate poses from a series of Lucien Freud paintings. It was one of the happiest experiences of my life (at that point). Although the class was very serious about their work, and it was the first time that I had worked with another life model (so I was pretty nervous), the atmosphere was overwhelmingly welcoming and positive. It felt like we were all working together, to support each other, artists, models and tutor alike. Within a few minutes, I felt so happy, and knew I had made the right decision both in pursuing my career. Fortunately, the tutor was very pleased with both my work, and the other model's work, and we passed our audition(s). From that day on, I haven't looked back!
When starting out as a life model, you inevitably do not have lots of experience to draw on, to present to potential employers. However, being a RAM model demonstrates to employers that you are serious about your work, and that you have experience of posing within a formal life drawing class. Most employers out there really value life models who are RAM registered, and often expect you to be, or ask if you are (I proudly state that I am within my Facebook profile and on my website, now). I have secured several very good jobs via the RAM website, and through those jobs, others have emerged, too. However of the many that I have located independently, I think almost all employers, from art colleges to the organisers of life drawing groups, respect RAM registered models very much.
As a relatively new life model, I know that being a RAM member has helped me to secure work, however, I am friends with many very experienced life models who have been working for many years, and they all appreciate the respect that RAM membership affords them.
But, the RAM site is about so much more than simply securing work. Life modelling has become a way of life for me, and has changed my life in the most profound ways possible. I have overcome very negative feelings about how I look that I harboured for years, and found a place within which I can express myself freely without being judged. Because Rachel, who runs RAM, is also a life model with very many years experience, she understands all of the possible issues life models could encounter, from practical issues to do with the experience of posing in a class, to emotional issues that models might face. Importantly, RAM has also been at the forefront of attempting to secure better conditions for models. Many employers are very sympathetic with RAM's cause, and have altered their working practices as a result of proposals RAM has made. In short, RAM *cares* about life models, and wants life models to succeed and to be the best that they can be, while simultaneously battles to protect the conditions of life models.
For all the reasons above, I am so happy to be a member of RAM, and look forward to being a member long-term.
Thank you RAM!!
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Kelley Swain's memoir of modelling, The Naked Muse, examines her experiences, what she learnt about art & self-image. She was a member of RAM while working. More: http://www.valleypressuk.com/book/66/the_naked_muse & Kelly on Start the Week, R4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078xf12 (28 mins). https://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/arts/feels-like-pose-nude-artists/ http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/14521874.Kelley_Swain_on_being_a_life_model__the_art_of_the_nude_and_body_image_in_a_digital_age/
I know many models are struggling and wondering what will happen to life modelling jobs. First of all, if any of you are having issues with tutors or artists about not being paid for work you have been booked for, please let me know. I'll do what i can to help. Artists are in the same boat, don't forget. The arts industry is being decimated by this awful virus. One piece of long awaited good news is that the self employed will now receive 80% of their earning averaged over the last 3 years. There are basic details here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme?fbclid=IwAR0sq-i3tQ9Cs57ESpnOjp3T6ea4r2nDoC5h_zkdqC09sgt1JkbFiCMN4hg#how-to-apply and you should all also be emailed by HMRC. Basically, it's saying we can't apply yet and they will let us know when we can. Can you please let me know if this will help you and what you are doing meanwhile. I know many of you have other jobs,