Art Model’s Handbook

By | 7 October 09

artmodelshandbook-1442169699The Art Model’s Handbook, by Andrew Cahner is one of those books I look at and exclaim, “Why didn’t anyone write a book like this before..?”

If you use artist’s models in your studio, work as an artist’s model, or have ever thought of working as an artist’s model*… you need to own a copy of this book.

Yes, I usually say, “Read this book at your public library first, and see if you want to buy it.” However, this is the kind of book that you’ll refer to so often, you may as well buy a copy and save yourself multiple treks to the library.

This book is 141 pages of to-the-point information. There’s no fluff, and the author is knowledgeable, experienced, and addresses issues on both sides of the canvas (or sketchpad).

Author Andrew Cahner has left nothing out. He tackles the difficult aspects of nudity in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, he tells you the two things that every model must bring with him (or her), and then lists many items that will make your work easier and create a more professional environment.

Chapter by chapter, Cahner provides useful tips and the kind of information every artist — and artist’s model — needs to think about before, during and after a modeling session.

For example, the author provides some brilliant ways to research poses, so you don’t stand in front of the group, blink, and ask shakily, “Err… what do you want me to do?” (Likewise, if you’re working with models, these resources will avoid wasted time while the artists try to think of poses, and the model responds, “Okay, how about this?”.)

There’s even a list of useful links to find modeling work, online.

If there’s anything missing from this book — from either the model or artist’s standpoint — I can’t see it. And, I’m speaking as a third-generation artist who worked as an artist’s model during her college years.

I rarely give a book five stars, but — for this topic — I can’t think of any way the author could have improved the book. Every working artist and every classroom that uses models should have a copy of this book in their studios. When you have a question, the answer will be right there.

And, of course, every working model should own one as well.

I read many books about and for artists, and this one stands out as a brilliant idea, well executed and long overdue. It’s well-written and easy to read, but — even more importantly — it’s a useful reference that provides far more than just the basics.


*If you’re willing to sit still for 20 minutes at a time — with a roomful of people staring at you — this can be a fine career choice for people who need work or want extra income.  Taking off your clothes is optional but will significantly increase your chances of getting work, but it’s not vital.  (Portrait and other models are needed, too, but — for economy — classes often swap-out students in those roles.)

Even better, this book will explain the nuances of working in this field so you don’t feel like a total novice.

3 thoughts on “Art Model’s Handbook

  1. Frank

    Having been both a model and a figurative artist for many years, my reaction to this book was the exact opposite: this is no more than a basic overview of a topic that could have benefited from thorough research and professional writing. The personal observations of a single individual and a few contacts would make for a good hand-out at a college; it does not meet the standards for a book.

  2. Eileen


    Thanks for your comment. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’ve approved your comment because I believe readers should see more than one reaction to any book or video.

    However, I stand by my review. As the author of ten books and a contributing writer (and illustrator) for many more, I think we have different “standards for a book,” as well.

    In addition, when someone is that critical of someone else’s work, I always suggest that they write something better, themselves. I’ll happily review it, once it’s in print. Perhaps my opinion of this book might change, as unlikely as that seems at the moment.

    Eileen Morey

  3. Frank

    Only those that can do better are entitled to criticize? On the contrary it is the fact that I am not a writer, but could have written something just as well as this, that supports my opinion. I do not need to impose another amateur effort on the public to prove this.

    Any knowledgeable reader should be able recognize that “The Art Model’s Handbook” is inferior to books such as “The Undressed Art” by Peter Steinhart and “Live Nude Girl” by Kathleen Rooney; which were written by talented individuals that deserve to be called authors, having many published works to their credit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *