Code of conduct for modeling sessions

This page provides codes of conduct and suggested best practices for models, session facilitators, and artists for art classes and open draw sessions, in order to ensure a professionally run session.

Charon by Pierre Subleyras. Public domain.

Charon by Pierre Subleyras. Public domain.

Code of conduct and best practices for models

Session bookings and preparations

  • When you being considered for an upcoming model session, inform the session facilitator of any out-of-the-ordinary physical conditions and any noticeable tattoos you have.
  • For instructional sessions, determine what topics the class will cover and whether the instructor has any special requests for poses.
  • Confirm your session booking with the facilitator by email.
  • Maintain excellent personal hygiene for the modeling session.
  • Do not agree to model for a session if you do not have the physical conditioning required to model (such as the ability to hold standing, seated, and recumbent poses for at least 20 minutes).
  • Be prepared to come up with all the short- and long-poses for the session on your own.
  • If you are ever unable to work a modeling session, inform the session facilitator as soon as possible.
  • Do not find a replacement model on your own for a class or instructional session. The instructor should be the one to decide how to adapt the class schedule if you cannot model that day. A different model or a model with a different body type may not serve the instructor’s purpose.
  • Know the phone number for the facilitator, in case a last-minute emergency arises, and you need to contact the facilitator.

Model behavior during sessions

  • Always arrive for the modeling session early and be ready to begin modeling the moment the session is scheduled to begin.
  • If the facilitator is running late, be prepared to begin modeling the moment the facilitator arrives.
  • Always present yourself for your first nude pose by taking off a robe. Do not “strip” from street clothes in front of the class.
  • Do not speak when posing, even if the artists are freely talking among themselves.
  • Do not stare directly at an artist when posing.
  • Avoid any form of sexual arousal when posing. If involuntarily arousal occurs, politely request an impromptu break or discretely modify your pose until the situation has passed.
  • Do not change or “break” your pose before a scheduled model break unless there is a compelling reason.
  • Always wear a robe during breaks in modeling.

Interactions with artists

  • Do not interact with the artists at all, if the session has a rule against this.
  • Do not provide any feedback on how the artist should portray you in their artwork.
  • Do not criticize an artist’s work.
  • Do not attempt to view an artist’s work without the artists permission.
  • Do not take pictures of an artist’s work without permission.
  • Do not post or share an artist’s work for any purpose without the artist’s permission.
  • Always credit the artist’s work in accordance with the artist’s instructions.
  • Be aware that the artist owns the art work created from your session. and the artist can present this artwork in any public forum without your permission.

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Reclining Nude by Luis Ricardo Falero. Public domain.

Reclining Nude by Luis Ricardo Falero. Public domain.

Code of conduct and best practices for session facilitators

Session bookings

  • Inform the model ahead of time how much the model will be paid for the session.
  • If you plan to have multiple models pose at the same time during a session, inform the models of this and get their permission at the time you book them.
  • If you double book two models for one session, be prepared to pay both models in full for the session.
  • Do not require two models to pose nude in each other’s presence, unless both models agree to this.

Studio conditions

  • Ensure a safe and comfortable work environment for the model session.
  • Provide a private area for the model to change for the session.
  • Provide convenient rest room facilities for the model.
  • Provide clean sheets and pillows for each session, for use in seated and recumbent poses.
  • Adjust the room temperature for model comfort. Have a space heater available for cold weather and a fan for hot weather.

Proper treatment of models

  • Do not disclose a model’s full name before, during, or after a session to other artists without the model’s permission.
  • Ensure that the model cannot be seen by anyone other than the artists during the modeling session, including during breaks when the model is in a robe.
  • Be present whenever the model is posing. You are responsible for ensuring that everyone present treats the model with respect during the session.
  • Do not allow anyone to enter a modeling session other than participating artists without the model’s consent.
  • Immediately intervene if anyone at the session acts inappropriately toward the model.
  • Do not allow the model to be photographed at any time during the session, even during model breaks, without the model’s consent.
  • Do not allow the use of any electronic devices during the model session. Recognize that the model feels extremely vulnerable when posing motionless and and being unable to look around.

Interacting with the model during the session

  • Do not pressure a model to pose nude if the model is unwilling to do so or “chickens out” (although you are not obliged to pay the model if you informed the model in advance that modeling nude was expected).
  • Do not criticize the model in front of other artists while the model is posing. Restrict any necessary feedback to constructive comments provided privately and respectfully.
  • Permit the model to take an impromptu break without question if the model requests one. Recognize that the model may be experiencing an issue that the model may not want to disclose publicly to others.
  • Do not touch the model without the model’s permission.
  • Do not ask a model to wear a garment that is inappropriate for a professional art session.
  • Do not ask the model to assume a pose that is inappropriate for a professional art session.
  • Do not ask the model to assume a pose that would not be safe for the model (such as on an unstable platform).
  • Do not require a model to adopt a pose that the model considers professionally inappropriate, too physically demanding, or unsafe.
  • Be prepared to provide the model a break of at least five minutes after posing for twenty minutes, at the model’s discretion.
  • Do not “hit on” or ask the model out on a date.
Girl in the Loft by Anders Zorn (1905). Public domain.

Girl in the Loft by Anders Zorn (1905). Public domain.

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Code of conduct and best practices for artists

Interactions with the model during the session

  • Treat the model with respect at all times during a modeling session.
  • Do not make any disparaging comments or sexual remarks of any kind about the model.
  • Respect the model’s request to adjust your location if the model feels uncomfortable with where you are positioned (such as how close you are to the model or your position with respect a specific part of the model’s anatomy).
  • Do not photograph a model at any time during the modeling session, even during model breaks, without the model’s permission.
  • Do not use any electronic devices while the model is posing, even to take pictures of your artwork. Recognize that the model feels extremely vulnerable when remaining motionless and being unable to look around while posing.
  • If you must use a telephone while the model is posing, step out of the session before using your telephone.
  • Do not criticize the model in front of other artists while the model is posing. Restrict any necessary feedback to private comments to the session facilitator.
  • Do not “hit on” or ask the model out on a date.

Use of session facilities

  • Do not clean painting materials in the studio without permission.
  • Do not use fixative indoors in the studio without permission.

Displaying art work after the modeling session

  • Do not disclose the model’s first or last name when presenting your artwork without the model’s permission.

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See also:

Model in Backlight (1908) by Pierre Bonnard. Public domain.

Model in Backlight (1908) by Pierre Bonnard. Public domain.


See also:

Comments and feedback are welcome. What are your thoughts?


Recommended Life Drawing Materials (Blick)

4 Responses to Code of conduct for modeling sessions

  1. Derek Forbia says:


    When an artist draws or paints a model, the picture belongs to the artist, and all the rights belong to the artist. The picture can be displayed in a gallery, exhibitions, or places of sale and so on. The picture can be sold to anybody. This is perfectly reasonable. They have to be allowed to promote their work. The artist has to make a little bit of money somehow.

    So far so good. Take the case of a young respectable woman, from a middle class family.
    She took up life modelling, regarding it as perfectly respectable, as it is. She did it because it was art, and was a world away from anything exotic, or pornographic. Most of the artists she posed for were perfect gentlemen, and ladies. Most of them were over the age of forty,
    However there was one eighteen year old man in the class. He produced a picture of this
    trusting and innocent model, that showed her face in great detail. It would be very obvious to anyone that it was her. It was so detailed it would be very difficult for her to say oh no it’s someone who looks like me. The face detail was over the top. The breasts and the genitals were drawn in very bad taste. This was not tasteful art, this was done in a level of explicit detail, and in a style conveying an attitude of the pornographic.

    This uncomplimentary and highly distasteful image found it’s way all over the locality.
    To all the near towns, including the town where the young model lived.
    She lived about twenty miles away. Like a number of models, she didn’t like the idea of modelling in her home town. The idea of meeting artists at the shops, or in local bars, put her off.

    The twenty mile distance would give her some privacy, and allow her a little bit of a secret life. She knew there was a good chance one day or another, some of her friends might see a picture of her somewhere. But she was mentally prepared for that.

    This young man, broke every rule of respect for the model, every rule of decency.
    It’s as if he set out to destroy this woman. This poor woman was left shamed, ridiculed and humiliated. This was the kind of man who brings good decent minded artists, who form the majority, into disrepute. Pictures of the woman were posted all over the internet.
    in every instance, the full name of the woman was mentioned under the image, and the name of the town where she lived.

    This is the sort of horror story, that will fill every life model with utter fear. If this happens on any regular basis, there will be no life models left. No model in their right mind would be willing to take the terrible risk.

    It is right and proper for the artist to own all the rights to their work, promote it, display it, and sell it. However it might be a good idea, if models and artists operate with some sort of fair play agreement.

    These are the things artists and models, will want to consider in a fair play agreement.


    Will you paint my face in great detail, like a police photofit, so that if a friend sees it, I can’t say oh it’s just someone who resembles me, or I can’t pretend it’s my fictional cousin ?

    Will you plaster the picture all over every town within thirty miles, or will you restrict it to the artistic or cultural community, or respectable art sales situations ?

    Will you draw my genital area in a way that would cause a granny to smile a bit, or will you draw them in a way to make someones granny say, oh my god that’s disgusting, that’s going to far, take it away ?

    Will you display my name with the image, and the name of my home town ?

    Will you put it on the internet

    If the picture did go on the internet, which of the following conditions would you agree to ?

    No super detailed face.
    Genital area o.k, but not too explicit.
    No use of models name, or home town.
    A tasteful nude picture, not pornographic.
    Only use respectable, artistic websites.

    Would you let the image be shown on television, newspapers, or magazines ?

    Some of my friends, family and work colleague who I trust, and have a mature attitude, know that I model. However a fair number of them don’t, and might be a bit surprised, and make a fuss, or even be a bit rude.

    I will assume you want me to keep your figure drawing confidential, unless you tell me otherwise. Will you keep my life drawing activity confidential, from the outside world, and try your best to keep things, just within the art community ?


    There are several stories of art colleges, where some of the art students were quite enthusiastic and happy to point out to everyone, who the life model was.
    In one instance, a male art student stood up in packed college canteen, where a life model was having a cup of tea. He shouted in a very loud voice, and pointed, oh look that’s the life model ! In another case, a life model on a railway platform, was shouted at by college art students, who thought public humiliation was all very funny.

    It’s not not just males. Female art students behaved disgracefully, towards a male life model in a packed bus station. It’s not always just young people either. A man in his forties, wearing a business suit, looked up and said to a model, oh it’s you, nice to see you with your clothes on. This in a voice loud enough for the whole train to hear.

    At a party, a woman came up to a female life model and said, oh, I hear you do life modeling. The model said, who told you that ? Oh Terry told me. Apparently Terry told just about everybody at the entire party. As the night wore on, the men had consumed more and more alcohol. Some of the comments, well within earshot of this poor model, were disgusting.
    When a creepy middle aged man propositioned her, saying you get naked for those poncy artists, do it for me, she had to escape from the nightmare. This was thanks to a dammed inconsiderate art student, called Terry, and his big mouth. When word got round, Terry was banned from every art class in the area for ten years.

    If models keep getting treated this badly, with such dreadful lack of respect, there wont be any models left. The art students will suffer, they will have no models to draw, and it will be their own fault.

    If there is a fair play agreement, between artists and models, it will help to prevent
    this unacceptable behavior.

    Anyone is free to use this material, so long as they credit Derek Forbia, a life model in Merseyside, England.

  2. hardboy says:

    I can say with experience most emphatically that the male model should NOT break the pose. I was doing a standing pose for a group of first year college art students and when I followed your advice to crouch down to feign drinking bottled water, all the artists almost in unison said “what’s happening?”

    I realized that I had let them down for reasons of simple vanity and following a toxic stereotype. I was being paid to hold a pose and I failed to do my job.

    Ever since then I continue with my pose and have had no complaints, only compliments.

  3. Hailey Huddleston says:

    Hi, I am a current art student in the US. After looking through this site I have yet to find anywhere that references copyright terms. I’d like to use some of the model images as reference images/inspiration for work as I’m unable to find local models in my area do to the Corona Virus. What are the copyright terms? Am I able to change the images in my own work to use as references? Are we as artists able to distribute our work afterward and if so, is there anything we need to do first?

    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Yes you can use these images as reference and sell your work.

      You can’t re-sell them without making changes, and you can’t resell them if you only make a token change- eg. Add some text to the corner of the image. Make a good faith effort to transform the image into something new.

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