How to Become a Print Model

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If you can assemble a portfolio of high-quality photographs and have the stamina it takes to become a model, you could very well make a fabulous (and lucrative) career out of print modeling for newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and more.


What is a print model?

Print model

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As the name indicates, print models pose for print publications to promote and advertise goods and services. As a type of commercial model, they are likely to reflect the average person, and can represent a broad range of ages, looks, and body types. 

The commercial print industry is constantly looking for talent—both actors and models—to grace the covers and pages of publications advertising goods and services. Unlike fashion or runway modeling, print does not adhere to a strict set of physical requirements. Instead, agencies and brands are simply seeking the right look. Depending on your appearance, special skills, and commitment and perseverance, you could have that look.

Print modeling agencies try to “provide the casting director with the best options for their clients,” says Cheyenne Brink, a print agent at Bella Agency. Those include clients like Walgreens and Walmart, Brink says—the kinds of large companies that regularly need fresh faces to advertise their products. “We’re also in the realm of hospitality, hotels, resorts, casinos, and cruise lines,” she adds.

How to be a print model

Print model

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1. Hone in on your modeling type

Joe Thompson, a fashion and commercial print agent at Abrams Artists Agency, says that aspiring print models should do as much research as they can, identify which magazine and newspaper advertisements capture their attention, and ask themselves where they might fit in

“You have to know the market,” advises Brink. “Are you in the right market, submitting yourself to the right stuff? How is a company going to envision you in their ads?”  Depending on your unique look and style, you might do best seeking plus-size, fitness, swimsuit, stock, lingerie, or other types of print modeling jobs.

2. Practice

Take the time to practice and perfect your poses so that the camera is always your friend. Unlike with other modeling types, explains Brink, the print modeling agent’s job is not to develop or groom talent; when submitting themselves for consideration, models should already be prepared.

3. Build a portfolio

Your modeling portfolio should include personal stats (age, hair and eye color, body measurements, and unique features); a professional summary; and contact information, as well as photographs. “Having top-of-the-line images is the biggest factor for me,” Brink says. Thompson agrees that a print model’s first priority should be photographs. These include: 

  • A killer headshot: Specifically for actors branching into modeling, Thompson says, a “really strong, accurate headshot” capturing your look and your personality is a great place to start. “I recommend just getting that one really good headshot, as clients don’t necessarily open up each portfolio,” he advises. 
  • Diverse images: “It’s important to have a diverse range of images, different kinds of looks,” Brink says. If you’re hoping to model athletic products and can play specific sports, fill your portfolio with shots of you playing those sports. “In L.A. there’s a big health and fitness scene, lots of lifestyle, so images should be geared towards that” for models hoping to enter the L.A. market, she adds.
  • Candid shots: For any photograph in a model’s repertoire, Thompson says, “a good shot is going to best capture you in a natural state. There are many images we see that are extremely posed.”

4. Build your network

Use your professional website and social media pages to highlight your look and range as a print model. In particular, “Instagram is such a huge factor now,” says Brink. “It’s an extension of your portfolio.” Use hashtags like #printmodel, #brandmodel, and #commercialmodel, as well as more specific hashtags indicating your model type, so that you show up in searches and can connect with others in the industry.

5. Grow your experience

Once you’ve gotten a sense of which brands or genres might best fit your talents and look, it’s time to use Backstage as a career-launching resource. Read up on advice from industry professionals, browse our casting listings for modeling gigs, and seek out jobs by searching and saving searches. It’s also a good idea to attend go-sees and open calls whenever possible. 

6. Get an agent

Research agencies using our Call Sheet resource to see which are a good match for you and your print modeling goals, and submit away.

Ready to launch your modeling career? Check out our listings!

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