With the rise of social media, for the first time since the 90s supermodel era, models are taking the spotlight away from the Hollywood stars. Nevertheless the definition of what a model career entails has changed tremendously only in the past couple of years. While with children of 90s supermodels and celebrities taking on model jobs, from a classic tale of rags to riches, more than ever modeling is a story of riches to riches.
The new age supermodel is somebody whose look people aspire to, but also envy their lavish lifestyle. This classic ‘Keeping Up With‘ syndrome also turned a Kardashian Jenner clan member into a runway supermodel model, despite her career facing continuous backlash, even provoking open letters from models who started their career path in a more traditional sense.
Nevertheless, whether you are a child of a celebrity or a girl selling oranges in rural Siberia, at one point of your career you will need a strong model agency to succeed, and a will to follow the industry set standards.
That is why we put together a list of tips below that you should follow to succeed into the modelling industry and start a true modelling career.
A Research Is A Must
You may have all the potential in the world, the heights the looks, even the social media followers. But signing a contract with an unprofessional model agency, is almost certain to end your career even before it starts. The biggest mistake young models make right at the start is not doing a research before signing to an agency. If you are not sure where to start, you can look for an agent by going through a well known fashion magazine, and noting down which agency represent the models you aspire to or whose work you like. If a scout from a smaller agency contacts you, before giving them a call, do some web research, see which models they represent, what kind of work their models book and overall get a feeling of their reputation in the business.
If an agency has models listed on prominent web pages such as models.com, or our own MMSCENE magazine model directory when it comes to male models, that is already a positive sign. This means their models are working on international campaigns and editorial jobs. Also if this is a smaller agency in question, most likely your local town agency, see which other noted agencies represent their models, if you discover their models on the boards of staple names such as Wilhelmina Models, IMG, Elite Models, New York Model Management and Next Models that is one great sign.
DON’T FALL FOR THE MODEL SCHOOL MYTH
Model schools exists, and won’t go away anywhere anytime soon, however ask any working model they will all say modelling is something you can not learn in a school. While classes in a well recommended model school may be helpful, you have to be extremely resourceful before choosing one, these schools are often a way to make quick buck by people who often have hardly anything to do with the real industry. The only way a modelling school can actually help you is to give you a moral boost, and that’s where it pretty much ends.
Numerous successful models started their careers only with simple digital images taken by their scout or mother agency. A strong mother agents role is to teach you the ins and outs of a model industry. If you need anything from the ‘model school classes’ is to get familiar with the fashion industry itself. Designer names and their work, roles within the industry itself such as Casting Director, Fashion Editor, Stylist, Photographer, etc. Like with any other job, before signing for an agency you have to do your research, or if already signed and going in for a casting find out the most about the client and their business.
If you are a signed model and you struggle with your work, your own agencies are to help you with that. Often agencies call in their own more experienced models to help the fresh faces both with posing but also their runway walks.
STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
Industry itself has numerous types of models they are looking for, the skinny girl, the plus size girl, the tatted guy or a girl, the commercial instagram girl, and so on. If we are talking about a big agency, most likely they covered already all of the types you can imagine. Therefore, the best and the easiest way is to be yourself! If you booked a meeting with an agent, bear in mind when meeting prospective model agents, they prefer to see you as you are. They want to see you without any makeup, with your natural hair, and your very own personality.
That showstopping dress you got at the mall last weekend – leave it at home! A pair of skinny jeans and the most simple monochrome t-shirt is all you need!
THE IMPORTANCE OF A PORTFOLIO
For a working model, their book, or model portfolio, is something continuously changing. At the most reputable agencies, the agents regularly keep model portfolios in check, for a busy model that is a the easiest peace of cake. If you are model booking continuously new commercial as well as editorial jobs, you are bound to have a strong portfolio. Yet, if you are working on building your portfolio as an agency represented model your agents are the one to direct you to best test photographers, and work on getting you editorial photo shoots for magazines. Teersheets, pages of editorial photos from fashion magazines, are one of the most important parts of a models career. Often when it comes to travels, and securing working visas and other documents, a rich portfolio full of editorial shoots, campaigns and hopefully covers is no doubt to help you in the process of an applications. If you are a working model, securing a work visa for any country won’t be much of a problem.
However, what if you are not signed? Should you work on your own portfolio, book the shoots yourself? The answer is both yes and no, but we’ll get to that part a bit in a moment. But also, do not forget the importance of Social Media, in our recent interview Cory Bautista, Director of New York Model Management shared when we asked him what’s important to become a successful model: “A strong social media presence, period. It’s an unfortunate truth, but it’s the new science of booking models.”
TAKE A HINT, MODELLING IS NOT FOR YOU
Finally, your mum kept telling you you are a star, and you watched all the shows of America’s Next Top Model and Tyra stamped into you everybody can be a model. Why are you still not even signed, let alone not a top model! Even the girls and boys on Tyra’s show are hardly the next top models. A strong portfolio is certainly to help, but while you might invest thousands, if you have the right look and attitude an agency is to book you a major job even only with a couple of digitals. That is when we bounce back to importance of a model portfolio, test shoots can be expensive and you might even find in demand photographer willing to make a test shoot. But investing thousands while getting rejects by all the well recommended agencies, is something we could never recommend. Modeling is an expensive career, it takes a great deal of time but also a lot of money, to go back to the beginning this is sadly today a tale of riches to riches. If you can’t afford the expensive flights and model apartment fees, and you are not booking jobs even as a signed model, maybe its time to reconsider.
Perhaps modelling is not the right choice for you, if you are interested in a career under the spotlight, try to pursue acting or engage in your own social media career, maybe start a YouTube channel and see how it goes from there.
Originally published in Design Scene Magazine Issue 23 – available now in print & digital.