For most freshman, myself included, a student’s first job at MSU may go along the lines of something like serving food in a dining hall, making coffee at Sparty’s, or even handing out toilet paper and garbage bags at the front desk of any given dorm. RCAH freshman Brynne, however, took the alternative route for her first job. Brynne poses nude for figure drawing and sculpting classes at Kresge Art Center.

Nude Models have to stand in specific poses for a long period of time (photo credit: Emily Lawler. Note: Not real model.)

The Life of a Nude Model at MSU

Brynne found her job through After finding out about it, she went straight to Kresge Art Center to get information. “There was just something inside me that was just like, ‘You have to do this,’” Brynne said.

Her parents were a little upset at first and her friends were confused by her choice of job, but now they admire and respect her. “My parents still don’t like it, but they knew they couldn’t stop me,” Brynne said.

Though she has never been ridiculed for her modeling, men sometimes get the wrong idea. “To guys, it’s a bit like being a stripper. They’ll say ‘Oh, maybe I should take one of your classes,’ but I really don’t care,” Brynne said. The embarrassment of standing naked in front of a room full of people faded away after two classes for Brynne. “I’m a pretty confident person, which makes it a lot easier. I wouldn’t recommend this to the weak-minded,” Brynne said.

The models do not know what class they are going to be modeling for or when. Brynne currently poses for five different classes, usually once or twice a week. It may get boring at times standing up there, but students will sometimes hold conversations with the models. “They’ll ask ‘What’s your major?’ or ‘Why are you doing this?’ Sometimes it’s awkward, but sometimes they play music to get the artists’ creativity flowing,” Brynne said. Though she does get breaks, it is difficult to stand still for such a long period of time. Brynne fell once during a forty five-minute pose. “It’s physically exhausting, but it depends on the pose,” Brynne said.

What the Artists See

Journalism and design specialization freshman Dennis Vlahoulis took the STA 110 class last fall with Britta Urness. This was his first time drawing a nude figure. “I wasn’t as uncomfortable as some of my classmates… In my eyes, there was little distinction between the mannequin and an actual person. In the end, it all turns into art,” Vlahoulis said.

Seeing the human body makes it easier to draw for him. “You start to see the body in shapes that are interconnected to create the human form. The more you practice and develop, the easier it will become,” Vlahoulis said.

Brianna Ritivoy drew nude models in an art class she took (photo credit: Emily Lawler).
Brianna Ritivoy drew nude models in an art class she took (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

Why They Need to be NAKED!

But for anyone who has never taken an art class or had any interest in the field, you might ask yourself, why? Why must they be naked of all things? Graduate teaching assistant and painting major April Matthews teaches the STA 110 class this year, in which the class views a nude model for two weeks at the end of the semester. “Students get a better idea of the structure of the human body, and how the body moves,” Matthews said. “You can compare it to a doctor working on a cadaver. Even if you don’t end up drawing, you need to get an idea of why the body moves, why clothes fit the way they do,” Matthews said.

The models do a variety of poses for three hours for the class. They start with short, active poses to show movement and they last from anywhere between thirty seconds to five minutes. Throughout the class, the poses will become longer, going from fifteen minutes to even forty-five minutes. “It’s really important for life drawing. It’s a lot harder than people realize to get the right posture,” Matthews said.

The models are not always nude for every class. It all depends on what the teacher or professor wants for the class. “[Models in] sculpture classes will sometimes wear clothes,” Matthews said. It may be less awkward to draw someone who is wearing clothes, but seeing the body makes it easier to get the right shape. “Clothes, though they can somewhat be form-fitting, are often much simpler from a drawing aspect than the curves, tonal differences, holistic nature of the nude human form,” Vlahoulis said.

As strange as it may sound to be willing to pose nude, it becomes normal for teachers, students, and models. “It becomes a job. You just kind of ignore the strangeness and it becomes ordinary,” Matthews said. “Most of us care more about the artistic details presented within our own artwork than an uncomfortable situation,” Vlahoulis said.

For Brynne, the modeling has become an enlightening experience that she plans to continue doing throughout her stay at MSU. “I’ve become a lot more confident in myself; I have nothing to hide anymore. It makes being myself a lot easier,” Brynne said.

3 thoughts on “Real Life: I’m a Nude Model”

  1. the state of being naked in a room full of people who are not, has a sexual quality; the drawing/painting/sculpting/photographing of the naked human all have a sexual quality even if the participants are not willing (or are afraid) to admit it.
    i am a 67-year old male and have been posing naked at 8 different post-secondary institutions with over 100 instructors.
    check out my blog at

  2. Hi! I have been looking for job postings to become a nude model for the art classes here at MSU, where do I find a job like this? Where do I start?

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