“Questions about web coding in my day job are replaced with ‘do you ever get an erection when you model?’ on the weekends”
Inside the bright room of a grand office building in Bristol, a man who is fully uniformed is sitting in front of a desktop. He has been staring at the screen for the whole morning, but he has to carry on. That’s his job, as an experienced IT programmer…
Several hours later, however, when he finishes the work, none of his colleagues would have imagined that he will show up in a life drawing session in Cardiff, teaching adult students drawing while doing the modeling work in person.
Intellectual IT programmer & artistic naked/life model. It is difficult to combine the two distinct jobs together and connect them to the same person. Gujon, who works in the IT industry, has been a life model for seven years. Apart from his normal office work, he runs his own adult self-modeling and tutoring services for hen parties and ladies’ birthdays.
He says, “Teaching ladies how to draw the human body is a nice artistic departure from sitting by my desk in front of a computer. I enjoy and relaxed about being naked as well, so that’s also a million miles away from wearing a shirt and tie in the office.”
Gujon has loved drawing since he was a child. He used to draw famous faces and his own while looking in the mirror. Moving on to draw the whole human body was something that naturally happened when he grew up. He started off at traditional life drawing learning centres, and the switch of roles from an art student to a life model was nothing but a coincidence.
“I was drawing at classes for many years and one day, the model didn’t turn up. In that situation, there was no class because there was no model. So from somewhere in my brain, I volunteered to be the model. ‘With no experience’, I said, ‘I will do it if you want’; and the tutor said ‘yes.’”
“This was actually one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done in my life. And after doing it for 2 hours, the tutor kept asking me to return to model…”
Gujon said he could still clearly remember how nervous he was when he modeled in the nude for the first time. “Actually it took me two years to get rid of the fear. And now, it’s absolutely fine.”
He expressed, “I loved to see people be expressive and artistic while observing his body,” however, he is also worried about the stereotyped reputation of life models among people.
“There are few people who know this identity of mine. I only told my father and several close friends,” he said.
Gujon never reveals any clues about his art world in the workplace. He said he was afraid that the controversial image of life models would endanger his career. So he tries to draw a clear line between the two different jobs.
“I guess I’m happy to talk about my modeling work with people who can understand life drawing. I’m doing life drawing because of life drawing itself. But people snigger because there is a naked person there or you’re drawing a naked guy.
“People should move on to a healthier attitude to the body rather than stick to the old-fashioned mind about nudity,” he said, “It’s just an object but people who don’t or haven’t been to the class don’t really understand that.”
Although worrying about the negative remark, Gujon still enjoys and persists with what he’s doing now. In the journey of modeling, he not only embraces the pure joy that life drawing brings to him, but also changes the way of viewing his body.
He said, “When I was young, I dreamed of having a body shape like Brad Pitt in the movie of Fight Club. But now I’m fine with myself.
“When I started drawing, I gradually understood that life models can be in every shape and they are not models with big muscles. They are just normal people of every age, every size. And the joy that people have is just drawing the different shapes.”
Gujon said the biggest lesson he learned from life modeling is to accept his body. “I’m now reasonably happy with my body, no matter in life or at work. I know I do as much exercise as I can, keep healthy, eat and enjoy life. So whatever my body is like, I choose to accept it.”
Life modeling, in fact, is not as easy as many people imagine. Apart from the courage to strip in front of people, endurance is also a huge challenge for models.
“Sometimes you have to hold one pose for up to an hour. It’s very very difficult,” Gujon said, “One time, I remember, when I started to model in a class, I was sitting on the floor. My legs bent close to me. After 10 mins, I felt I was getting pains and needles in my legs. And after 15 mins, I couldn’t feel my legs at all. But I kept going until the end. It was the most painful experience. And when I finished, I wanted to get up, but I really couldn’t move my legs. I had to straighten my legs on the floor and until the blood started flowing again.”
Instead of necessarily having the perfect figure, Gujon thinks being able to hold different challenging poses for long is much more significant. During each time span of life drawing, it is annoying to see any little move or change of the model. For Gujon, this is also a time of having mindfulness.
He said, “The good thing about life drawing and life modeling is focusing on the moment.
“You forget about everything else, be in that moment and take yourself to some kind of level above your body. And if you’re thinking too much about your problems, you will bring them inside.
“So when I am modeling, with mindfulness, I’m happy and relaxed.”
The career of Gujon as a life model is now expanding widely. The IT programmer, who works from nine to five every weekday, receives weekend-invitations for life drawing sessions throughout the year.
With abundant love and experience in life drawing, Gujon offers basic drawing skills and guidance during these sessions. In his words, “I’m not young anymore and can’t be 24 years old again,” but this middle-aged office worker, without strikingly muscular shape gains popularity in the life drawing area. As for the reason, Gujon thinks it’s because of the fun and knowledge that he provides to people every time.
Gujon explained, “Now, questions about web coding in my day job are replaced with ‘do you ever get an erection when you model?’ on the weekends.
“I have to sit in front of computer screens all the time in the day for my normal job. But I could do exactly what I want to do at the weekend. And you couldn’t really get two more extremes!”
(The name of the person is changed in order to protect his privacy.)
Gujon’s Life Drawing Business: Arty Hen Party