If you are interested in modeling for us, please read all the information below before contacting us.
Boston Figurative Art Center (BFAC) is an artist cooperative located at 6 Vernon Street, Somerville, Mass., focused primarily on figurative drawing and painting.
BFAC offers several sessions each week in "open studio" format; there is a host but no instructor. These include both short-pose sessions (poses from 1 to 30 minutes) and long-pose sessions (holding one pose for a three-hour session or the same pose weekly for a month). Each session is typically three hours. From time to time we also hold workshops and classes with a special focus, often with an instructor or facilitator.
Our current weekly schedule:
Sunday Morning Month-Long Pose, 9:30AM-12:30PM
Monday Evening Short Pose, 7PM-10PM
Thursday Evening Long Pose, 7PM-10PM
Saturday Evening Short Pose, 7PM-10PM
We do not have one model coordinator. Each session host is responsible for hiring models for their sessions. Some hosts prefer to call or text models directly, some prefer to use group email.
Our sessions are almost always nude, but occasionally a pose may be clothed, draped, costumed, or a portrait.
Payment is $65 for each three-hour session, cash, Venmo, or PayPal.
REQUIREMENTS FOR MODELS
Modeling experience is not required, however, some kind of "movement" background is very helpful: dance, yoga, sports, or anything similar. It may sound odd, since posing usually means holding very still, but the best models are those who know how to move, that is, they know their bodies and how to change gracefully from one position to another while taking interesting postures. Having a well-developed kinesthetic sense is helpful, especially for resuming longer poses after breaks and from week to week.
A good model thinks "three-dimensionally," varying the levels of the poses (standing, leaning, sitting, kneeling, reclining) as well as varying the direction of the poses, not just facing "front," but facing different directions in the room. Repeating a pose later in the session while turning it 45, 90, or 180 degrees makes it a new pose from the artists' perspectives.
Our artists do not look for any specific physical attributes in our models: height, weight, age, gender, and so on. Being fit or athletic is not a requirement. Tattoos, piercings, and hair styles are not a concern, although artists may ask for long hair to be tied back, away from the face.
Being comfortable with being nude in front of other people is an obvious asset. Having attended figure drawing or painting sessions as an artist or art student is also helpful, so that you are familiar with the environment.
New models often assume that "short-pose" sessions would be easier for a beginner, but that is not actually the case. Short-pose sessions (such as our Monday and Saturday evening sessions) require the model to choose a new pose as often as every minute. This can be a challenge for inexperienced models. A better introduction for new models is a long-pose session (such as our Sunday morning sessions), where one pose is chosen by the model and the host together, with the model's comfort in mind, and held for longer durations. This does require a certain patience and the ability to relax in position and not fidget. Our Thursday sessions are a combination of the two: short poses for the first half hour or so, then one pose held for the rest of the evening.
EXPECTATIONS OF MODELS
BFAC as a group is relatively informal, our sessions are casual, and we want people to enjoy their time with us, but we do expect both models and artists to behave professionally.
Reliability is one of the most important attributes of a model. Our artists are depending on you to arrive on time, ready to work. It's hard to have a figure drawing session without a figure!
If we schedule you to model a session, make sure to confirm your availability before accepting, and plan to arrive at the studio a few minutes early if possible.
We do recognize that adverse events can happen unexpectedly. If your schedule changes at the last minute or you come down with an illness, please contact the host immediately so we can schedule a replacement. We prefer that you do not schedule another person to model in your place.
We rarely cancel sessions due to holidays or weather, but it does happen sometimes. If you are uncertain, contact the session host to confirm.
While posing, talking should be kept to a minimum. Conversing while posing can be distracting to the artists as they try to focus on their work.
On the other hand, socializing during breaks is highly encouraged. We usually take a five-minute break after every half hour of posing, or every twenty minutes for long poses. Have a drink, get a snack, chat with the artists, however, don't let socializing induce you to linger on a break. If the host calls for a five-minute break, be ready to resume posing in five minutes. It's natural for people to want to continue socializing, but when the model takes the initiative to get back on the model stand, that is often the encouragement that artists need to get back to their work.
If for any reason you need longer or more frequent breaks, be sure to discuss that with the host. We make every effort to accommodate our models. We want you to enjoy working for us and we want you to come back.
When not actively posing, you should be covered. Bring a robe to the session. We do have a robe available in the studio if you forget. Slippers or flip-flops are also recommended.
When setting up a long pose, make sure it is comfortable. We have a number of pillows, cushions, and other props available. Even so, if you find that a pose has become too uncomfortable to hold, you should let the host know, so we can make adjustments or take more frequent breaks.
If the temperature is not comfortable at any point during a session, let the host know right away. We provide space heaters and fans, however, our building is not air-conditioned, so it can be very warm in the studio during the summer.
We provide water, other drinks, and snacks to artists and models for free.
We ask that artists never touch a model, their clothes, or their hair, or approach the model stand without permission. The host may approach the model stand to mark the pose with tape or to adjust props or draperies, but should also avoid touching the model.
If an artist notices that a long pose is out of alignment, they are expected to notify the host, who will ask the model to make adjustments.
We do not allow photography of the model without explicit permission from the model, obtained beforehand. Occasionally an artist will ask to take photographs of the model, as a reference to complete a painting, for example. The BFAC host may ask to take photographs of the model as a reference for a long pose. You may accept or refuse any such request at your discretion.
Photography for other purposes within the studio is discouraged, except for artists to document their own artwork. Hosts may occasionally take photographs of artists working in the studio for our promotional purposes.
If you find the environment uncomfortable, or if you feel that an artist has violated any of these policies, you should bring it to the attention of the session host immediately.
If you have read all the information on this page and wish to follow up, we ask prospective models to come in to the studio to observe a session, to meet at least one of the hosts, and to get a feeling for the typical session workflow. You can drop in to observe any of our regular weekly sessions: Sunday morning, or Monday, Thursday, or Saturday evenings. There's no need to email us, just come to the session and introduce yourself to the host.
(Other sessions, such as Drawing as Meditation, Tuesday evening Drawing Club, and Saturday morning portrait sessions are special purpose and are not appropriate for observing.)
At the session, you are welcome to observe as long as you like and ask questions of the host and the model during breaks. You can also bring supplies if you'd like to draw or paint.
(If you'd like to draw or paint for the full session, we ask that you register and pay the artist rate, $25, but see below for an added benefit.)
Note that the front door to the building is always locked. The host's name and number is posted outside the front door; call or text when you arrive and someone will come down to let you in.
Also, parking on Vernon Street is normally limited to 2 hours on weekdays and Saturdays, except for those vehicles with a Somerville parking sticker. Free parking is available in the lot at the rear of the building. Enter from Central Street, around the corner from 6 Vernon Street. BFAC is not responsible for parking tickets or damage to vehicles.
Once you have observed a session and met with us, you can let us know if you wish to be added to our model list. Make sure we have your preferred contact information: name (and pronouns if applicable), phone number, email address, and a headshot. The headshot doesn't have to be a professional portrait; any snapshot or selfie will do.
We can't guarantee how often you might work for us, but some models do become regulars and are invited back frequently. If you can be available as a substitute on short notice, let us know that, too.
If you decide you would like to pursue modeling at other venues, there are many schools and art groups in the Boston area who are always eager to find models.
Some venues (such as BFAC) treat models as independent contractors, paying by cash, check, or PayPal, with little paperwork involved. You should note that if BFAC (or any venue) pays you more than $600 in a calendar year, we do require you to fill out an IRS W-9 Form (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number), so that we can issue you a 1099 form and report your payment to the IRS.
Other venues treat models as temporary or part-time employees and may require an interview, a job application, and additional paperwork, such as an I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification), to verify your identity and your availability to work. They may also deduct taxes from your paycheck.
Some artists and venues post openings, especially last-minute cancellations, in this Facebook group:
Once you have begun to model for us, as an added benefit, we offer models who come to sessions to draw or paint the same discount we offer students and members of the BFAC family: $15 per session (vs. the usual $25 rate).
This option doesn't appear on the website, so you don't need to register in advance.
If this is a hardship for you, we are willing to accept whatever you can afford. You're also welcome to ask the host for a free pass for the session, although as we're sure you can understand, we prefer to limit the number of free passes we offer.
A PERSONAL NOTE
In addition to being the financial manager and one of the hosts at BFAC, I am a figure model myself and work at many venues around the Boston area. If you have more specific questions about modeling that have not been covered here, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com