Artist, life modelling and yoga instructor – Em

Yoga instructor, Life model, and Artist Emily has built on her modelling and started expanding onto GumRoad and Patreon. I caught up with her to get a little more insight into them.

You have accounts with Instagram, GumRoad and Patreon. How did they come about?

They came about relatively recently (i.e. this year) as I wanted to offer reference images online. I was inspired by some of my fellow model friends who do so, and those were the platforms I chose to offer my images on.

Which platform do you find the most engaging? 

Instagram is definitely where I find the most engagement. Gumroad is second, and for some reason, Patreon has not had as much engagement, but maybe that will change.

I can see you have been captured in different mediums. I was wondering what your favourite one is.

I don’t really have a favourite medium per se, only favourite artists. Modelling online has allowed me the opportunity to work with more artists of whom I’m a big fan. I like their work if the artist has the vision and fire. A good artist knows how to manipulate whatever medium they choose to work in.

Copyright: Emily Weeks

Which project have you worked on, which has been the most fun, and why? 

Maybe this is not allowed, but I have to mention more than one project. I can’t really choose one at this point because I just love it anytime I get to work with an artist I REALLY admire, which is not every day. I love it every time I get to work with Martin Campos, privately or for one of the workshops he teaches. Martin was the first artist I modelled for online when the lockdown started. I reached out to him because I was such a fan. If I’m modelling for his workshop, I get the added bonus of hearing him teach, so I get to learn at the same time. There are other artists I’ve loved to work with, and I can’t mention them all, but some others are Nathan Aardvark and Hirsch Diamant. 
I might also mention a sculpture workshop I modelled for here in Austin. That was so interesting, too, because sculpture is an art I don’t know much about; I primarily work in two dimensions myself. So as I got to listen to the teacher, I felt like I became a little bit closer to knowing how to approach the process of making a sculpture.
Lastly, I’ll mention the latest photo set that I shot, which will be released in July, I became really excited about it because I used coloured lights, and I adore light and playing with it, painting with light, if you will. 

I’m really excited about the results and looking forward to seeing what people do with the photos. 

I can see from the artist’s work on your profile you have to hold some difficult positions; what is the most challenging pose you have had to hold, and how long was it for? 

I would say I’ve held many poses that have caused pain and even injury because I didn’t have my weight distributed in a functional way. Those poses are the hardest to hold because, when it’s very painful, every second you’re in the pose is a living hell and your just waiting for it to end. I am a yoga teacher, and I like moving my body in unique, expressive, and challenging ways, but there’s a big difference between when you are only holding a pose for a few seconds or a few minutes and when you have to hold it for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or several hours. It’s harder to hold still than it is to move. I enjoy short poses and gestures for this reason. So some of the harder sessions I do are the ones where it’s only one pose for 3 hours or more. In that vein, perhaps the most challenging pose I held was the one I held for the sculpture class, which was 16 hours in total in the same pose.

Copyright: Emily Weeks

An artist who respects the models won’t make them hold any pose for longer than 20 minutes in my opinion, unless the model agrees with it beforehand or it’s a position that’s comfortable to hold for that long. Usually, models get breaks every 20 minutes, and if it’s a longer pose, we go back into the same pose after the break. Otherwise, you will destroy your body! 

I’ve brought some yoga poses into my modelling sessions, like headstand, forearmstand, and handstand, and some deep backbending poses and splits, but those are not included in the hard poses because they are functional: when done correctly, they will not injure you, they’re not hard for me because I’m trained to do them, and they even feel good. However, it’s not always yoga poses that are the best poses for life drawing, I find, but rather more naturalistic, twisted, or dynamic poses (which are often the more painful ones, haha). Lately, when modelling, I’ve been more inspired by classical painting, and also, I’ve been trying just to use my body to act, to convey a character or a feeling. I believe this is more interesting sometimes than doing an extreme yoga or contortion pose (although that’s nice too sometimes!).

When you are holding longer poses, how do you keep still, plus what goes through your head?

I keep still by focusing my attention on my body and quieting my mind. If there is a certain mood or character I have in mind, I focus on that and it generally generates the focus needed to hold still. It also helps to keep the body strong, fit, and flexible. But I still move a lot!

All kinds of thoughts go through my head when I’m modelling, just like anytime. It’s only the fact that you’re still and you can’t distract your mind with other activities that you might notice the thoughts more, but they’re always there. I often try to use modelling as a time to meditate, to watch my thoughts, notice my body, notice my breath, and notice any stimuli coming in from the environment around me.

Copyright: Emily Weeks

Do you feel that the art gets better with the more life drawing sessions you do?

I feel that the art when I first started could be just as amazing as the art that I see now; it depends on the artist. However, as I keep going, I get the opportunity to work with more and more great artists, so perhaps yes I have the opportunity to see more amazing work. I hope too that my modelling gets better and better and is able to inspire more great work!

What is the most enjoyable part of being a life model, and what is the worst?

The most enjoyable is seeing how people interpret me and seeing how other people see me. Part of the reason I started modelling was that I never thought I was beautiful, I had a lot of body image struggles and an eating disorder, so modelling was an opportunity to maybe see myself through different eyes, and to learn to love my body.

There are not too many negatives to modelling for me. I’d say the worst parts are that it can be physically taxing or even injury-causing (mostly when it’s a single pose for long hours), or if someone makes inappropriate comments about my body or behaves abusively, which luckily has not happened to me much.

Copyright: Emily Weeks

If I told you that I wanted to be a life model, what advice would you give me?

Do it! I recommend it for becoming more comfortable and accepting of your body. I believe nudity should be more accepted and normalised within society and not viewed as wrong or inherently sexual. The nude body must be treated with the same respect as the clothed one. In my experiences being a model and drawing nude models, exposure to the naked body helps normalise it and bring an acceptance of all kinds of bodies. In my experience, the artists treat the models with extreme reverence, respect, and admiration, helping you to see your own beauty if you cannot see it yourself.

Do you have any goals that you want to achieve with your life modelling?

Yes! I want to grow my scope so that it can sustain me a bit more, and I would also like to get into more photo/fashion/editorial/fine art photography modelling, and acting. I would like to travel all over the world with my modelling.

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