Thursday, October 6, 2011

Surviving as a non-fashion model

Read about Model Life here.

A girl recently asked me, "Within the next month I will be submitting my comp cards to various modeling agencies in the NYC area. I currently work a full time job in the fashion industry (which is a very steady source of income:) Anyway, when (thinking positive thoughts) I get calls for go sees or castings I know that I will need to be available and that the modeling industry isn't a 9-5 type of work enviroment. So my question is, once I start getting calls, would it be wise to quit my job in order to be more available...or keep my job just in case things don't go as planned? Can I model part time and book work?"

Count your sick days hunny!

Keep in mind that modeling is an extremely unstable lifestyle, it takes 60 days to get paid usually from gigs and it is VERY hard to survive only modeling, survive as in pay rent and eat, especially when you are starting out. Even when you book better paid and more consistent work it is still tough to survive only modeling. (And this desperation for basic stability can sometimes lead girls down the wrong path and the wrong doors.)

While you continue to work your full time job I would try to get some some experience, try to make castings during your lunch break, and count your sick days and if you can use them when  and if you book gigs. Modeling is very competive, 50 girls or more are called for a casting, you could be number 49 and only one girl gets the gig. You've waited for an hour to be seen and you're missing an improtant meeting at your real job. So you have to be really careful about deciding what casting is worth it, and not. Balance your dreams and goals and also the real job.

Most modeling job are during the week, not weekends...but sometimes there are exceptions but typically all castings are during the week and the booking/job is during the week days mon-friday and between 9-6pm. It will be tough because yes, agents like that you are available, being available can mean their models get booked and they make money so of course they want you to be available and for me, being available has meant sometimes that I DO or DID book the job.

Modeling is a pursuit full of risk, there is a risk you could fail and a risk you could succeed, there is a chance you will get the gig and a chance you won’t, it’s a life of unpredictable opportunities and all about showing up and being what they are looking for.

 Even when I did give up everything for my dream, there were MANY rough moments, extremely tough and lonely. I became a model marketer and booked some great gigs but it was very tough to keep consistant work going even with working with agents...It came down to me finding my work, approaching brands, trying to keep it going. And it was not easy.

Without a backup plan, or a way to bring in some stable income while you pursue modeling besides your job, I would continue to work your full time job, and if you have some $ saved, put it towards GREAT quality photos that bring out the best in you, invest in your dream and skip the bullshit and wasting time and focus on having the model marketing tools you need, right photos, comp card, portfolio, and try to get gigs and some experience if you can, treat it like a hobby right now until you build experience working with some magazines and booking some professional modeling gigs.///

And who knows your fashion job may prove to be something that can help you build contacts and relationships and who knows what the future will hold. Modeling is a pursuit that involves working with creative minds and involves working within the marketing and advertising worlds too, it's about selling an image, a story of a brand, a product, a certain lifestyle portrayed in an ad or editorial or commercial.

In my opinion and from my experience the only way to survive as a model (when you are not fashion height and working with a top fashion agency) is to take on part time jobs (temp work, promotional jobs, many models bartend or hostess, waitress when they are not going to castings and have a flexible lifestyle--it is hard to find a part time job that is flexible that allows you to use your real skills and education but it might be possible to find a part time job within the field of your other interests and for it to be flexible, ex: as a writer/journalist/blogger- but I am not positive that will totally work out) and it helps to be a mega multi-tasker and organized and smart when it comes to attending castings and trying and being a massive self-marketer when the phone isn't ringing. It's tough. Very tough.

When I started pursuing modeling I was in college, going to castings and trying to keep up with my classes, sometimes one of them had to give. It's hard to do it all. But know this and don't get frustrated, there will be another casting, another opportunity. When I graduated college I took on trying to make something more of what I had already gained with modeling while in college, it was a risk, a very self-discoverying time I am thankful for and look back on and think "how the hell did I survive?"

I would not give up your stability without a backup plan and I would set goals eitherway....weekly and monthly for your modeling pursuits. Submit to agencies your comp card and keep in mind that most print modeling agencies work non-exclusive with their models and they work with MANY models, so if you can't make a casting it sucks, but they have other models. Which can suck for you because you wanted that opportunity but it's hard in life to do everything and be everywhere. Do the best you can. Try not to stress out about missing a casting or not being able to get to one at a certain time.

When comes to setting goals for modeling focus on what means the most to you. What type of modeling job can you realistically book that you'd like to book, and focus on getting that opportunity. Agents might not like that you are available at their beck and call but you've got to eat and it is not easy to juggle it all. But try to pursue modeling part time and do it when you can, build experience and decide what path you want to take. What path seems most realistic and best. I am not going to tell someone to quit their job and take on the battle of stability, I wrote about it in my book Almost 5’4” and it’s not always fun, it’s really hard. Unstable. I had the mindset that I didn’t care what I ate, or the living conditions, I sacrificed stability for it. I am lucky, it could have turned out not so great. But I think you have to go with your gut. There are choices here. This is your life. You’re inner-self will tell you what to do. Working as a model full time and striving to make it work, meaning getting every day castings and every day bookings is unlikely (even for experienced print models of all ages). It is possible to book work modeling part time, it will be tough though, you've got to be smart about it. So in my opinion, I would try to get some experience working as a part time model, try to be really organized, think carefully about the casting when the phone rings, ask yourself: Can I scramble to make this casting without it interfering with my real job? Is this something I really want to book, or is this just a casting that doesn’t really fit with my goals? It will sure make you more selective about the castings you attend and you might lose some opportunities but another door will open, and maybe that would be the best thing right now when it comes to managing your work life and modeling pursuits. I hope this helps, listen to your inner voice, ~Isobella

Check out a free excerpt of Model Life on the Comics + app.


N/A said...

I know I already thanked you on Facebook, but I really appreciate you taking the time out to answer this question...and so thoroughly!I hope your response can help others in making a decision when it comes to living your dream or living in what they consider "safe." Thank you for being an inspriation to all of us shorties! :)

N/A said...

I know that I already thanked you through Facebook, but I really do appreciate your thorough response! I hope that my question and your answer will help others out there that are deciding how to pursue their dream without having to give up what they are "safe" or used to. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration to all of us shorties out there! :)

Unknown said...