Note: First in a series of random, off-the-top-of-my-head stuff
I haven’t been busy modeling as of late. A large part of this was because I felt my body needed a break. But I’ve found that the work has dried up for a lot of institutions I used to get a lot of work out of.
Specifically, for a long while, I used to do a lot of modeling at colleges and universities for their art departments. And they were awesome to work for. Cool professors, awesome students, and really neat people handling clerical/administrative roles. I used to tell prospective art models to seek out art departments if they were thinking of getting their feet wet in the modeling community.
But it’s become increasingly frustrating to work for many of them as of late. To the point where I’d say the whole hiring and booking process dissuades models from working for them.
You see, in many instances, the school’s art department has been pretty much removed from hiring and scheduling art models entirely. It used to be that someone in a given school’s art department hired models and scheduled them each semester.
For the past few years (and I have no idea why–liability issues, I’m sure. Probably some mission creep), most schools’ HR departments have decided it was their job to hire and book art models.
And I’ve found that, generally, that suuuuuucks.
More to the point, I’ve learned that most college and university HR departments have ZERO idea of what it’s like to be an art model. And, when it comes to a collegiate setting, we, as art models, definitely see ourselves as–what would be in the 9 to 5 world–as consultants or freelancers. We work a handful of hours each semester.
And building upon that, pretty much every HR department I’ve had to deal with as an art model doesn’t seem to collaborate with the instructors at the school, and seemingly schedules models on a whim.
I’ve been asked to come in to HR departments multiple times during the application (or in some cases, reapplication process, once the hiring and scheduling process was removed from art departments) to do such things like:
- Watch videos on stuff like handling student records and other stuff that’s run-of-the-mill for most school employees, but definitely not applicable for art models.
- Submit to background checks. Including some that ask to contact references.
- While I’ve never experienced it, I’ve had models tell me that other schools have asked for drug testing.
- Submitting a resume. And not one specific to art modeling.
- Log into university employee web sites in order to log hours, get paid, etc.
All this for jobs that don’t even constitute part-time employment. Let alone full-time employment. We don’t get full-time employee benefits. But the school insists on treating us as employees nonetheless. With all the bureaucracy that it entails.
And I’ve noticed something. As the art departments have been largely removed from hiring and booking models it seems like most of these HR departments care very little for models. Or more importantly, understand the nuances that involve being an art model.
I’ve had issues such as being booked for classes that didn’t exist (a clearly embarrassed professor actually had to email the HR department and CC me to explain she didn’t have a class that needed a model the day I was previously booked for), various emails I’ve sent indicating that I could work on a given time and day go unanswered (in one particular example, I sent several follow-up emails to the HR person indicating I could work for several classes without a response. When she sent out an unrelated email and I pressed her on the issue, I got a response that was along the lines of whoops! Got a little busy and didn’t have the time to respond to any of your emails over the last several months lol!).
Hopefully if you’re a model or are looking to get into the art modeling scene, these circumstances don’t apply to any of the colleges or universities in your area. I used to find them an incredible source of work, with really awesome faculty and students, and an environment that was understanding of new art models. But (at least where I live), I’ve found that HR has managed to sink their claws into so much of what used to be the purview of their respective art departments, that it’s tough to recommend modeling for most schools.
It’s really sad. I have so, soooo many fond memories of working for various schools in the area. But it’s to the point where HR seems to have stepped in to replace what used to be the responsibility of college art departments and made the whole hiring, scheduling, and working process unbearable. Too many hoops to jump through for little reward. I’ve been finding that local drawing/painting groups offer more consistent work for almost zero barrier to entry.