Holding the pose

Joyce Inderkum

Photo By Larry Dalton

Want to increase muscle tone? Joyce Inderkum has a suggestion: don’t move. Pick a pose and try to stay in it as long as possible. “I’ve gotten really strong,” Inderkum says, flexing her arms to demonstrate. An art model for figure drawing classes at studios and colleges throughout the area, Inderkum gets paid to stand still.

Is modeling a full-time job?

I do model full time now. If anybody wants to be a figure model, there’s work. If you have a car, there’s work.

How did you get started in modeling?

I worked with a woman who had done it before. I thought it would be a fun thing to try, ‘cause I’m the kind of person that likes to try new things. So she told me who to call and I did. Now I do model all over—all the colleges, for art studios, just everywhere.

How long have you been a model?

About eight months, since January.

Do you model without clothes?

Most of the time. There is one class at Art Studios, which is a portrait class, so they like you to come in funky clothing and makeup and hair doo-dads. But usually, it’s figure drawing, so it’s nude. Sometimes a teacher will want something specific, like a drapery study, or they’ll want you to incorporate an interesting piece of fabric or a prop or a hat into it.

Did you have any trepidation when you first had to take your clothes off?

No, because I’m 42 and I’ve gone through all that “body stuff.” There was no weird modesty issue. Anything I might have needed to work through as a younger woman about my body, I’ve already been through it.

I’ve never had a situation where I felt someone was looking at me like, “Ooh! Ooh!” Really professional people go to the studios and take art classes.

What’s the secret to holding a pose for long periods of time?

I’ve gotten really strong. When I started, I stretched a lot. I did a lot of practicing at home. I liken it to yoga because you have to learn to breathe through the pain. Before I go to model, I clear my mind and focus. It’s also important to know what your body can do. Don’t put yourself into a pretzel that you can’t hold. So stretching and focus—pick a place on the wall or the floor and you just [stares straight ahead] hold it. If you start to feel pain in your arm or leg, you mentally try to relax it or just let it fall asleep. Get on the other side of it.

The longest anyone would ask you to hold a pose is 20 minutes. Even if it’s one pose for three hours, you stop every 20 minutes. When you work with the colleges, the teachers let you take a break when you need to. I try to push myself. I learn more about my body that way, so I will sit as long as I can. I’ll hold a pose for two hours.

Where do you work?

I work at Art Studios, Sac State, A.R., Sierra, Davis Art Center, UOP, for Salvatore Victor’s figure drawing classes behind Art Ellis, for Utrecht Art Store, at the Folsom Center and…

Wow! How did you find all those employers? Is there a model’s network?

When I first started at Art Studios, the man who runs the whole thing—Jim Ferry who owns 20th Street Art—gave me a tip about places to call. Then I took it upon myself to call the colleges. I’ve gotten a lot of work recently because my name gets passed around. So it does become a network, yes.

Are you an artist yourself?

I color. I used to be a sidewalk vandal—you know, pastels on the sidewalk. I don’t think of myself as an artist. It’s just another form of expression. I just kind of draw for the joy of drawing, but not to produce anything really. Just for the exercise of it.

What can be trying about your job?

It’s irregular work. I don’t find that trying, but some people might. My work is not accepted by all people. Some are like, “You model nude? ” They’re just not going to understand, because of their own reasons.

Oh—and some places you model in are cold, cold, cold and there’s nothing you can do about it! I don’t get cold anymore. I don’t let myself. I’ve turned it into a mind over matter thing.

What draws you to this type of work?

It’s really an intuitive thing for me. I think if I had been raised differently, with parents who had a little more access to the arts, I would have been a dancer. But if you don’t get exposed to those things early on, you miss the opportunity. Modeling seems, to me, a lot like dancing. You use your body as your instrument, like a dancer or an actor, to create a mood. It’s not just sitting there on a stool. There’s really a lot of physical-ness to it. Probably more than most people would realize. I enjoy that physical-ness, but I also enjoy the opportunity to focus. I also love being part of this cool vibe of creativity, whether it’s the studio or the classroom. You’re an instrument in other people’s creative process. To me, it’s super rewarding.