Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

I guess I have developed a knack for working with non-traditional models who have their own standards when it comes to size, age, shape, or whatever. These are the women who defy conventions and societal norms to blaze their own trails. I had the opportunity to work with this lovely model, known for her cosplay a few years ago who shows you don’t have to be a size-two to be an art model and I absolutely loved it. The original interview was heavily edited and posted on a different blog I used to be a guest editor for. I’ve chosen to show you the full interview all in her words.

I feel like I still have unexplored ideas, concepts, and imaginations that I need to bring to fruition. I encourage more photogs to venture out and find some of these gems that otherwise don’t make it out to the masses. I’d personally like to see more variety in our art model pool. Belly rolls… so what? Challenge your mind’s eye a little and let more models challenge themselves. Win/Win. Interview with art model, Franki Dame.

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

1. Okay, first, Introduce yourself! And please include your cosplay interests!

Hi all *waving* Franki here….  I’m 37 years old,  And for the most part, I love being in front of a camera.  Now, this wasn’t always so.  I liked being in front of the camera until I was about 9.  Then,  like most overly lanky-limbed, gaukish, giraffe necked, tower of a teenager, I  hated my body.  I hated my overly large chicken lips, and my gaunt overly wide, deep set eyes, which were given even more of an owl like expression with the large glasses I wore.  Imagine if you will 2 chopsticks coming together making an upside down V, then place a toothpick sticking out each side of the triangle top and a round circle on the very top.  To this day, this is how I remember thinking of myself up until I was over 20. 

My family belief had always been that if you didn’t look absolutely pristine and perfect, you didn’t have your picture taken, and really when would a girl like me ever see herself as perfect enough for a picture? I shake my head and smile a bit sadly thinking back.   Had you met me then, you would never have guessed I’d be a nude model. LOL   

However, being a girl that wasn’t comfortable in her own skin, it was always very fun to dress up as someone else.  I enjoyed trying on different people; wearing clothing I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing when I was just  “me”; wearing  more makeup or go the extreme opposite direction by painting even  MORE frown lines and etching them even deeper on my face.  I continued dressing up long after most of my friends declared themselves too big for it.

When I met my boyfriend a few years ago, I did my first AnimeCon.  I had discovered Anime cartoons in my 20’s, so when my boyfriend was taking his daughter on their annual trek to AnimeCon it was just natural that I joined them and of course dressed up. It was so much fun, that we did it again this year, and I am already looking forward to next year!

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

2. What were your current views on nudity and how did you come to first model nude for someone?

My views on nudity have certainly shifted as I’ve gotten older, that’s for sure. Having a rather fundamental upbringing, I didn’t discover nude photography until college.   As I mentioned above, I had an atypical body type. However, when I signed up for the required Senior pictures in high school, the photographer was intrigued with shooting me. It was the first time I had heard a stranger call me, “pretty,” and, I didn’t feel like that girl who wasn’t picture perfect. He saw my height as a gift, something to relish and explore as we did the pictures. It was an experience, I never forgot, and to this day, I have those pictures.

They say college is all about “finding yourself,” and I guess I was no different. I was trying to become comfortable in my own skin and I really wanted to like myself from the outside in for a change. However, as we all know. professional photographers are not cheap, and so when I was up at college, I started to look into ways that I could have pictures taken without it costing me an arm and a leg. I found the phrase “Prints for Time.” and looked up local photographers who used this method. I volunteered myself for a shoot, and as the session progressed, when he suggested I take off my top, I thought “why not’? I’ve been told, experience itself is what helps foster growth, and that was the case here. Though I wasn’t entirely comfortable the first time or the second, or even the third, I was intrigued with their vision, their thoughts, the reasons for why they wanted me topless. Now I may have just been naive, but most of them had a story in their mind. For example, the first time, I was over these cement cylinders. The photographer liked the idea of the white and smoothness of my skin against the dark roughness of the cement. It was interesting. I found that many photographers liked the artistic aspect of my tall willowy form. I even returned to the “senior picture photographer” and did other more adult shoots with him.

When I think back, I notice I usually did nude modeling whenever I need a body boost.  Then after I met my boyfriend… well, that brings us to here.

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

3. I shot a model who was also into cos and role play. She told me that modeling nude was a different experience altogether. She felt more vulnerable being nude. Would you share her sentiments or how is it different for you?

I agree about the vulnerability, but I like to push myself; like the challenge.  For me,  cos and role play is about NOT being yourself, but rather trying someone else on or even hiding yourself.  When I model nude, I can’t hide…. well, anything.  *HAH* It’s about the challenge.

4.  What have you learned about yourself from these experiences? What do you get out of modeling?

I have learned that I am beautiful.  I have learned that I am as unique and special as everyone else.  That we are all imperfect, and that is a GOOD thing.  That underneath our clothes we are all naked.  That vulnerability is that thing that makes us beautiful, though good lighting helps.  I have also learned to take a compliment.

From modeling, I get reminded that I’m beautiful.  We all have days where we only see the negatives of ourselves, it’s nice to remind myself that just last week, I looked amazing, and I couldn’t have gained that much weight or gotten that many more wrinkles, in just one week.    I showed a few of the pictures you had taken to one of my friends, that one highlighting all the lumps and bumps, and she tells me, “Wow! you have great breasts!”  “Thank you.” I replied.   

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

5. Excluding being comfortable in one’s own skin/bodies, what do you believe would be some other essential elements or qualities that art nude models should possess? And then also, what helped you acquire these assets?

It would seem to me that the ability to see past the awkwardness of the moment; to be willing to go on a journey with the photographer – understanding the outcome completely eclipses the present. Even if someone wasn’t “comfortable in their skin” probably having a carefree nature helps you get past that hick-u.p. As for myself, I never questioned the why.

6. Here’s a big one. Tell me what your opinion is as to the difference between artistic nudity and pornography.

Probably just depends on the eye of the beholder.  Depending on your upbringing and personal beliefs, I think some people will call any nude photography pornographic,  For me, I think if there’s 70’s stripper music or a fluffer in the background, it’s probably pornography.     

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

7. Is there anything hard or difficult about art nude modeling and posing? Do you have to deal with any scrutiny from people around you at all?

It’s cold.  I really hate being cold.  And the poses get tiresome sometimes.  It takes energy and some days that’s hard too.  I admit, doing nude photography for me is an adrenaline rush, but still, sometimes, that lack of sleep the night before still wants to come out.  Also, with many poses, it’s about getting that perfect line or having the light hit you in a certain spot, so you hang out in one position unmoving for quite a while.

So…. most people around here don’t know about my nude modeling.  With my profession, let’s just say it wouldn’t sit well with most people.  I hope some day to be able to bare it all, but for now, most only know me with my clothes on. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

8.  Tell us about other art models who’s work you enjoy. How do they influence your own work and style?

When you find something on Pinterest, or Tumblr that piques your interest, I tend to find things that I want to create in my own way.  Most of the pictures though are anonymous, so you tend to follow blogs or boards more than artists. I’ve kind of fallen out of following anyone recently, spending my free time doing more personal modeling. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

9. Same question, but this time with reference to photographers.

My main photographer is my boyfriend.  The only other people who I’ve allowed to shoot me recently are people he has a close personal relationship with.  This has included most recently, you and Miss Julian Grey. 

10. What’s next? What projects are coming up and how do we follow you?

In 4 years, I have plans to move to Vegas.  I should be easier to find then. Maybe I’ll talk to my guy about setting up a Pinterest board or Tumblr blog sometime next year. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley