Wives Vs. Models

I did a recent call for what video tutorials people would like to see, and this questions popped up:

“How about; How to convince your wife you have no intention of sleeping with your models?”

I will just answer this as a tumblr text!

First some facts: I’m 5’3″ and not in shape, 37 and the wife is 35 and European and incredibly pretty.  (once another local photographer said in passing “you’re lucky you married a European, they are okay with titties.”)

I met her as a result of a photographic exhibition I had at age 23, and the first thing I told her was “I’m going to take your picture!” and she said “Not nude I hope!”  It was already established that I was a photographer and artsy, this wasn’t some interest or hobby I picked up on later in marriage.

We also have 2 small kids who I can factually say I am a good dad to.  And for 2 years I’ve been largely self employed as an artist and art teacher, working to get her away from a soul sucking day job as well.

And not a fact, but an observation, most model “photographers” are older single guys who clearly like the company of younger pretty nude women.  There’s also a lot of younger stud punk rocker types who are peers to the models, doing the thing where they’re pushing limits of their world.  Not so many of us in our 30s, happily married with children in a “Leave it to Beaver” lifestyle kind of people .

So my tips for being a good husband and still photographing models!

1. the wife has to know and believe that they are #1, and you can’t really talk about any other women to them, and no wife really wants to be around a husband editing naked ladies in Lightroom.

2. married couples need their own personal spaces and times to themselves, but it can’t be all the time, and you have to show consideration.  I have gotten into a groove where I have a week or a month where there’s a lot of model shoots, then I don’t do any for a while.  And when I’m home I don’t edit or talk about the trip, I just produce the final pieces at a local tech incubator or when no one else is in the house.

I usually seed the model shooting trips 3-4 months in advance, and we always compare calendars to make sure we both get to do what we want to do.  It helps to keep the shoots elsewhere rather than around home, which slightly alters the perception of “what city are you located in?” because I rarely shoot around Phoenix.

Oh, if it’s a family-type trip, you may as well forget about shooting models (or much of any artistic merit) on that.  Keep family and photography trips separate.

3. if money is an issue in your house, and model shoots aren’t bringing money in, then you can’t spend money on model shoots.  Most marriage problems revolve around money, partly because it’s security, but this question: “you spent $300 on a model (aka Another Woman), when is the last time you spent $300 on me?”

So either spend equal amounts of fun $ on the wife, find a different way to work with models, or don’t do it at all.

The more business-y I have become as an artist, I’ve learned “if it isn’t making you money, it’s a liability and you don’t need it.”  There are a small number of models (like 3) where I could clearly justify the expense to the wife in the form of exhibition opportunities/ expanding my fan base/ publications/ print sales, but mostly I can’t, and usually don’t need to since there are other ways to shoot with models (and compensate them) besides straight cash.

4. your intent shows in your work.  My nude images are not erotic, they are intended more like classical sculpture or Renaissance art or live nude sketches or pop art.  Sometimes I make things that have eroticism to them but it’s pretty rare… not many vajayjays and no Playboy/ Suicide Girl/ Zivity/ etc. stuff.  Wives are less concerned with that.

5. don’t be chummy with the models, don’t text a lot with them, keep it all business.  Keep the shoot to the allotted # of hours and be home on time.

6. use your camera for other things besides models so it’s clear you like photography and not just as a means to be around models…

7.  Maybe the wife’s concern is that you take great photos of models and none, or shitty ones, of her.  Do your best to take great photos of her.  They want to be considered “inspiring” and a “muse” to you as well!

At the end of the day, your wife is the person who loves you, bears your children, pays the bills with you and presumably will be around for years/ decades to come.  You have to make her happy and if common ground can’t be found while photographing models then you’ve got to let it go.  When you’re in a relationship, you really can’t do whatever you want, whenever you want it, but the benefits of being a healthy family unit far exceed anything else.

And if that doesn’t keep things in perspective, always remember the wisdom of Homer Simpson when chatting with a newly-divorced (“I’m free to do whatever I want!”) Kirk Van Houten:


New Futurama Sculptural Masks on Etsy

If my Etsy stats (and sales) have taught me anything, it’s that people adore Futurama.  Luckily for me, they adore it enough to buy primitive mask stylings I do of the characters.  These guys were recent additions to my Etsy shop.

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A lot of the business advice to indie creators is “know your audience,” and the Simpsons/ Futurama/ Matt Groening audience I know very well, since my house is littered with those products.  I have figures, a wind-up tin Bender, a painting of Zoidberg in Australian Aboriginal art style, large tin wall advertisements, etc.   oct 2014 pt 3_103 oct 2014 _101

New Simpsons/ Futurama Masks

I frequently make masks inspired by the Simpsons and Futurama.  At their respective peaks they are my favorite shows and have probably shaped my brain more than anything else- more than Star Wars, Star Trek, the Muppets, the Beatles, any other slice of pop culture you could name.  It’s a joy to do these masks even if they come out as very primitive renditions of the characters.  Too bad one can’t make a whole art career doing Zoidbergs!  These and other sculptural masks are available on my Etsy.

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New Ceramic Masks

2013 was a revival of making ceramic masks for me, and in 2014 I’ve been able to get a better workflow of creating around 30-40 masks in a 2 month period and getting them glazed/ fired/ photographed in the 3rd month.  This batch was a pretty even split between Nobodies (weirdos I make up in my head), Pop Culture characters, cultural guys that reference things like Noh Masks and mythology, and animal faces that give alternatives to hanging innocent dead creatures in your house.  I had quite a few requests too, and I can’t make a batch of masks without Futurama or Simpsons guys showing up.  Here’s 18 of the latest characters, most of which are available on my Etsy and Ebay.  2014-07-08 16.25.55 2014-07-07 20.27.57

Immortalizing Mr. Burns

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Mr. Burns in ceramic mask form.

Since I didn’t do very well at the January comicon with my pop culture masks, I’ve been doing less interpretations of characters and more of my own original ideas.  To put it in perspective, between September 2013 to January 2014 I made around 35 of 40 masks as characters from movies/ tv shows/ comics, with 5 of those being “Nobodies” or rather people I made up in my head.  From February 2014 to March 2014 I made around 35 Nobodies to 5 pop culture characters.  They both sell in equal amounts on Etsy and at art tables, but there’s no problem with an existing license if I want to have the Nobodies in a magazine or wherever.

However, some fictional characters rattle around in my head and I really enjoy drawing them, being inspired by their personalities.  One such character is Charles Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons.  He’s every evil, republican, stuck in the past, self-centered, yet weak and impotent.  Harry Shearer’s thin, nasally voice- with a hint of snooty east coast education- couldn’t be more perfect.  Drawing Burns always starts with the long nose and enormous nostrils, followed by the perpetual glower and the magnificent Groening overbite.

I recently made a mask of Burns (for sale on Etsy) and use him whenever I need to do a drawing demo for classes.  He’s definitely a fun character to play with and think about.

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Mr. Burns as a charcoal demo.