This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of ‘Craig’ and his work as a male nude art model.Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was raised in a modest, conservative community near Savannah, Georgia. To others in my family, nudity was to be avoided, shunned, and viewed as decadent and evil. In my own mind, I never felt that way. To me, the human body was a masterful and beautiful creation and I saw no shame in viewing a nude person or allowing others to see me nude.
When most of us think of art models, we usually think of young women or actors/models who are moonlighting for other gigs. How did you end up art modeling?
Most of my career, I worked in the office of an Atlanta business. All my life I liked to draw, sketch, and paint. At age 45 I divorced, and the following year my company closed, leaving me unemployed for the first time in my life. I quickly realized I had passed the age that employers wanted. Never again would I command the salary I’d previously earned.
After my unemployment ran out, I was desperate for anything. I took a job as a clerk, making only a few dollars per hour over minimum wage. I had been selling my paintings for years to earn extra money, but it was nothing I could depend upon.
One day I heard of an open sketch that utilized nude models. My idea of models were young, attractive women. However, most of the ones that posed for our class were just ordinary types we see every day at the grocery store. The class coordinator rotated male models in sometimes, and they were not the body-builder types either. All the ones I talked to had other jobs and needed extra money. I joined the class, and with a minimum amount of practice, I was soon turning out some excellent work of nudes. It became my hobby and passion.
While doing odd jobs to supplement my income, I had an invitation to pose for the art group, with whom I sometimes sketched. As our class assembled one day, waiting for the model to arrive, she called and informed us she could not make it. One of the artists asked me if I would stand in and pose clothed, so I agreed. My class met in the weekday mornings and consisted of a mixture of a few college students, retirees, and many stay-at-home moms. It went well and I was paid the model fee.
Later on that week, the group coordinator e-mailed me and asked if I would consider posing nude for the class. I was intrigued, but was not sure if I had the nerve to do it. I told her yes, hoping I would not chicken out.
For the next two weeks I was nervous, wanting to do it, but still afraid. I really needed the money, and I had seen enough models posing to know what to do, so I was comfortable with the protocol.
Finally, the morning arrived. To my surprise, the coordinator had sent an e-mail out to everyone that had ever attended, announcing my first modeling gig. The class was larger than ever. There was probably thirty-five or forty in attendance and they were all females. I was so scared I had trouble not trembling. I went into an adjacent room, undressed, and put on a robe. I took a deep breath and walked out. It felt so strange to enter the classroom of clothed women while wearing only a robe. The room was very quiet and I could literally feel the eyes of the everyone on me.I gingerly mounted the platform, which stood about two feet off the floor. Someone came over and turned on the floodlights. To be bathed in the bright light added to my anxiety, I never felt so exposed. The feelings were conflicting; it was fearful, but exciting. I felt shy, but sensual; embarrassed, but bold. I fumbled with my timer and once it was set, it was now time to remove the robe.
I slipped out of it, trying to act nonchalant, but probably blushing as I stood stark naked, facing a room full of people. As I struck a dramatic pose, I could hear the sound of everyone busily scribbling. Almost immediately, my shyness disappeared, I became an actor, playing a part. Not only was I no longer afraid, embarrassed or shy, but now I was enjoying the attention. From time to time, I would steal a glance at the artists; everyone was engrossed in their own drawing. I felt a rush, a feeling of abandon and freedom as I had never before experienced.
During the break, I put on the robe and strolled around looking at the various sketches of me. Although many were amateurish, a few were quite good. My confidence grew as I conversed with the artists. It was encouraging to hear nice comments. I was more than ready to get back on the stage. Compared to most of the male models I had seen, my body was much better defined and trim, even though I was older than most. I am not bodybuilder, but several of the artists commented on my muscle definition, which boosted my ego a little. In a few weeks I had become a regular, and was soon one of the most popular models in the rotation.
Buoyed by the success of this new and exciting endeavor, I began to send offers to model at private art classes and colleges. I was very surprised at the demand for a male willing to pose nude. Soon, I could model several times per week if I wanted to.
A funny story; In my second year modeling, I had a request to pose for an oil painting class in a small community nearby. I never expected anyone I knew to be there…surprise! A girl that had once worked as secretary in my office was there. I didn’t recognize her until I was already on the stage and into my first pose. I pretended to not notice her until the break. I think she was a little embarrassed, but we both laughed about it, and struck up a new friendship afterwards.
You’ve also worked as an artist. Has modeling affected your art?
I believe modeling has actually made me a better artist. I think looking at the various renditions of me by others has given me a better understanding of how to draw the human form. It was a pleasant surprise to see how others accepted me sans clothes, with nothing to hide my blemishes and flaws.
The first time I saw the sketches of me, I realized how people see different things in the same subject. Some would exaggerate different body parts. I noticed heavy people sketched me heavier. Thin people sketched me thinner. Tall people sketched me taller.
Artists have a tendency to draw themselves in their subject. I cannot explain why, but male artists rarely ever draw the genitals of a male model. Their drawings of a male appear sexless. On the other hand, I quickly noticed females usually do draw every part, and very detailed. Personally, I am much more comfortable posing for females rather than males.
Do your friends and family know about your art modeling work?
Even today, after modeling for over fifteen years, only a select few of my friends know. I created a stage name for my model work, and I have kept it a secret from my family and most of my friends. I know they would never accept it.
Modeling has given me a degree of confidence I never had before. It has given me a respect and appreciation for all other body types. I see people as they are, looking past the façade of clothing that distorts how we really look. More than ever, I see beauty in everyone. Yes, it has been a life-changing experience… but still my secret.Thanks so much for sharing your story, Craig! Have any of you guys ever posed nude? Do you have any questions for him?
And if you’re a guy who’s interested in getting into nude modeling Craig is happy to answer questions at firstimpressionist12@gmail (dot) com.
P.S. True Story: A Nudist Resort Helped Me Love My Body + How to become an artist-in-residence
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