Guidelines and Contentious Issues for the Register of Artists' Models
RAM The Register of Artists Models

Guidelines - Contentious Issues

Consultative Guidelines

4. A FEW CONTENTIOUS ISSUES << Guidelines Main Page

i).  Behaviour of students

This applies mainly to schools and certain kinds of courses in tertiary colleges.  To be posing in the nude while surrounded by poorly-controlled adolescents behaving in a noisy and disruptive manner and paying little attention to their work, is a demoralizing experience.  Models are entitled to feel insulted in such circumstances, and may refuse to continue with a pose, but there is no consensus as to whether this is a professional response.  Even worse is the occasional 'raid' on the school art room by a hoard of younger children hoping for a glimpse of a naked person.  There are schools where this is regarded by the staff as amusing, but it is not.  Fortunately, in the majority of schools where models work, discipline is rather better than this.

ii).  Photography

Students in adult education classes sometimes wish to photograph the model posing, in order to finish their work at home.  The reactions of models to this vary greatly.  Some refuse outright, some give unqualified assent, others allow themselves to be photographed nude on certain conditions.  Some charge a small fee.  Possession of the negatives may be demanded but the photographer, having agreed to this, does not always honour the agreement.  Nude photographs have been known to turn up in public exhibitions without the model's consent.  If the model wishes the use of the photographs to be restricted in any way, he or she should NOT sign a Model Release Form, but a Restriction of Use Form. In fact we recommend that a Restriction of Use Form should be cmpleted and signed by both parties on all occasions, since it will specify what, to the exclusion of all else, the photographs may be used for.  Any provider of life classes (apart from sculpture classes) who does not have a definite policy of banning nude photography, should make the following information clearly available to models:  a.) They can refuse to be photographed. b.) They are entitled to charge a fee.  c.) They are NOT obliged to sign a Model Release Form, which gives the photographer complete control over the pictures, but should in all circumstances sign a properly completed Restriction of Use Form. This can be used as a Model Release Form simply by not indicating any of the restriction options shown on the form.  These forms are obtainable from RAM.

In the case of sculpture classes, RAM has now recognized that photography of the model is essential for some kinds of work. The onus is on the model, when discussing a possible booking for sculpture, to establish whether nude photography of the model is an essential part of the method being taught. If a model refuses to be photographed while posing for sculpture and the tutor has not agreed that there will be no photgraphy, then the model can be replaced without compensation. However, it is still important that a Restriction of Use Form should be completed and signed by both parties.

iii).  Touching

Some tutors have an energetic style of teaching which results in a hand brushing against the model from time to time.  In some classes the students are encouraged to surround the model and point out various features on the body.  This also is responsible for the occasional contact, as is the requirement for the pose to be marked up by drawing round the body before a break.  There are still a few models who will object, but most of us in these more tactile times will not object.  Models who think they have been touched for other reasons are entitled to make a strong complaint to the tutor's employer.  We do not think that a return to the old blanket prohibition on touching is fair or workable.  This is especially so in the case of sculpture and RAM has now decided that this is a special case. There are many sculpture courses where the object is to be as faithful to the original as possible.  Frequent touching of the model to establish planes and to find out whether a certain area is hard or soft, for example, is essential for this kind of work.  The onus is now on the model, when discussing a possible booking for sculpture, to establish whether touching the model is an essential part of the method being taught.  If a model refuses to be touched while posing for sculpture and the tutor has not agreed that there will be no touching, then the model can be replaced without compensation.   We recognize that there are models who strongly oppose this view.  They are not represented here simply because they have consistently failed to ask their Regional Representatives to submit for discussion any proposals on this issue.

iv).  Erections

This problem is far less common than the popular imagination would allow for.  Not many models find the life class an erotic experience, especially when they have been doing the job for a few months.  However, an erection can sometimes occur with no sexual stimulation at all and can, on very rare occasions, afflict even the most reputable model.  The true reactions of tutors and students are difficult to judge.  Publicly they will claim to have been simply amused, or will even ask why it should be considered a problem;  yet it is unlikely that the model will ever be booked again for that class and if the tutor is a RAM licence-holder, a formal complaint to RAM is almost certain to follow.  It may be that an erection is a more unfortunate occurrence in a school art room that in an adult education institute.  But, in either case, we have been obliged by the true feelings (as distinct from the publicly-expressed ones) of the majority of our licence-holders to take a strong line on this issue.  RAM members are nearly always suspended from the Register following a complaint about this.  We are aware that there are a number of male models who genuinely believe that there is no acceptable reason to find erections offensive, but we find that the opinion of tutors, students and artists is overwhelmingly against them, and our policy reflects this.

v).  Body adornment

The definition of 'nude' offered by some tutors precludes the wearing of hair extensions, necklaces, transfers, piercings and so on.  (Some models, male and female, pose with rings in their genitals, and students can find this rather distracting).  Items easily removable, such as necklaces and bangles, should be removed at the request of the tutor.  In the case of such adornmnts as piercings and tattoos, models should always make it clear at the time of booking if they have any, and what the extent of them is.  If the model does not volunteer this information, a tutor who object would be well advised to ask before making the booking. If a tutor cancels due to unexpected (to him or her) unacceptable body adornment, the model must be paid if given less than thee working days notice.Models should be prepared to conform to the wishes of individual tutors in this matter.  Tattoos pose a more difficult problem, since they cannot be removed.  We have to some extent monitored the situation, and have discovered that the overwhelming majority of tutors and students actually seem to like heavily tattooed and liberally pierced models, even for school work.

vi).  Unreasonable requests

 Impossible Poses.  Some life drawing tutors know little about the human body, and think that all capable models can do the same poses.  It is true that any model worthy of the title should be able to offer a wide range of interesting poses;  but for each model, there will some positions, easy enough for others, which that model cannot successfully hold.  There are indeed many positions that no model at all could hold for more than a few minutes, yet a tutor will sometimes point one out in a book and insist upon it for an hour, not understanding that the artist was either interpreting the pose liberally or providing 'invisible' props.  The result is the inevitable failure of the pose, with damage not only to the model's reputation but possibly to his or her body as well.

Erotic Art.  There are requests that will strike some models as unreasonable, but not others.  These include such ideas as being cling-wrapped, tied up or having to get into suspect positions with another model. Whilst these proposals delight some models, others will quite reasonably find them disturbing.  However, there is a complication here.  It often happens that models agree to certain things when asked in the life room in front of students or art club members, but complain to RAM afterwards and sometimes appear to be quite upset.

RAM policy in this area of concern has recently changed significantly.  We no longer maintain a confidential list of models available for work that could be labelled 'erotic'.  The purpose of this list was to prevent members who did NOT wish to be on it from being offered this kind of work.  However, some subscribers continued to approach models who were not on the confidential 'erotic' list, with offers of work of that kind.  Subscribers are not now permitted to call RAM models in order to ask them, either at the time of the call or during the session, to touch another model while posing, wear sexually provocative garments, be bound or restrained in any way or take up sexually explicit poses.

On the other hand, if a model takes the initiative by responding to an advertisement placed by the subscriber, then the model must take responsibility for judging that the advertisement is honest and that the they are not going to regret doing the the work described.  Special caution should be exercised when considering one-to-one work with artists or photographers via the website, whether replying to an ad, or being contacted by someone who has seen your own entry on the site.  The RAM licensing system offers a degree of protection in the case of people who contact you because of your entry on the site, but it is not foolproof.  Job advertisements,on the other hand, can be placed by anyone, not just licence-holders.  It is the responsibility of the model to read and follow the advice published prominently on the website regarding one-to-one situations.

Simply being asked to pose with a model of the opposite sex (without touching) is not a reasonable cause for complaint, since this has become widespread practice, even in schools.  Although the request cannot be complained about, it can be refused, so bookers should mention the intention of having a double pose at the time of booking.

Not every request is unreasonable!  Models with a professional attitude will try to cooperate with tutors to whatever extent their experience tells them is reasonable.  Although any good model will be delighted to act on his or her own initiative when allowed, it is unprofessional and often the mark of a relative beginner to arrive armed with a repertoire and expect to impose this on the tutor.  Models should be able to switch between skilled artisans working to request, and creative artists with free rein, as the situation demands.

vii).  Privacy while posing

Some would say that this is a contradiction in terms.  In present-day colleges there are so many legitimate reasons why persons unconnected with the life drawing class should walk in from time to time, that a ban is not practicable.  In any case, an increasing number of colleges have open-plan art spaces, where it is all but impossible to prevent tutors and students who are not part of the life drawing class from seeing the model posing.  However, it is unacceptable for external windows to afford a view of the model to any passer-by or window cleaner.  Steps must be taken to ensure that such windows are well covered. Schools should certainly try to ensure that planned invasions of the life class by giggling first-years (not uncommon) cannot happen, though this is easier said than done!

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