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Conversations with the Inspiring Raven Lynette

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raven Lynette.

Raven, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My name is Raven Lynette, and I am a 28-year-old, 5’1″, professional freelance art model. This wasn’t my original career choice. I grew up on a farm and had big dreams of becoming a veterinarian. As an 18-year-old, I was in desperate need of a job, in a rather jobless (at the time) small Northern California town. I saw a flyer looking for art models at my local community college and thought, “why not?” I have dabbled in many art forms growing up but didn’t have a clue what “Figure Drawing” was. I was a bit shocked during my interview when the instructor showed me some student works and they were all *gasp* nudes! I was extremely shy at the time, hated changing in the locker room, and frequently had nightmares of suddenly finding myself sans clothing at school. However, I was also under a lot of pressure by my mother to get a job and felt a little hint of rebellion rise up. I took the job and haven’t looked back since. Those pesky nightmares also disappeared for good. And mom is supportive!

I ended up moving to San Diego to attend school as a dance major, which further added to my skills as a model. I quickly expanded from working in art classes to working with independent photographers as well, shooting a wide variety of genres from lingerie, glamour, art nudes, body paint, underwater, and conservation. As a freelance model, my job is not only posing, but I am also my own secretary, bookkeeper, promoter, etc. I use mainly social media and word of mouth to connect with other industry professionals, and over the last few years have expanded to traveling (nationally and internationally) for bookings.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road, but everything has been worth it. I have dealt with various injuries (back injuries, torn ACL, broken foot) from dancing that also interfered with my ability to work as a model. Luckily I had some photographers I worked with regularly that were willing to work around my limitations. We actually created some interesting images that way!

Being a freelance artist of any type presents its challenges. It’s often feast or famine in terms of income, and the majority of my work is spent corresponding with potential clients online, booking flights, renting cars, securing lodging, etc… It definitely takes some discipline to stay on top of everything. One of the most important aspects of this behind the scenes work is vetting your clients. ALWAYS check references! Unfortunately, there are some people out there who take advantage of their position of working with women in a one on one setting. I have had a few uncomfortable situations, but thankfully nothing dangerous. Always check multiple references when working with a new person, stick to your limits, and stand up for yourself!

Another challenge is the stigma surrounding nudity (especially female nudity) in our society. Female bodies are so censored, judged, and controlled. The passing of some laws in recent years has made it even more difficult to promote my work online. Despite these challenges, I wouldn’t change what I do. I love the freedom of expression and celebration of human bodies! I think they are beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. In the freelance modeling world, there is so much diversity in body types, skin color, sexual orientation, you name it! There is literally a market for everyone. It is so beautiful. All it takes is some confidence and self-love, even if you have to fake it at first! Through this work, I have gradually learned to truly love and appreciate my body for all the cool things it can do.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
The majority of my work is in the artistic nude genre. I regularly work for many art classes throughout San Diego, and I am most frequently hired by photographers for art nudes. However, my ultimate favorite genre is underwater. I’ve always loved being in water. If I am on location at a shoot, and there is some kind of body of water nearby, you can bet I’m getting in it! Doesn’t matter what temperature.

I did my first full underwater shoot with Adam Attoun in Northern California. Relaxing in the water came quite naturally to me, though it was still challenging. It takes some serious mental power to fully relax (especially your facial expressions!) with the lack of oxygen and water burning throughout your sinuses. I like to call it voluntarily drowning. Over the years of practice, it has almost become a sort of meditation. While a long breath-hold is not necessarily a requirement for underwater modeling, my goal is to get my breath-hold to three minutes, so I can film single shot underwater dance videos. My current average is about a minute thirty, which is already a specialized skill that I am quite proud to offer.

I am also a multimedia artist and create many of my own props, costumes, special effects, prosthetics, etc… I’ve recently created an entire mermaid costume, including a swimmable tail. I think versatility and the ability to provide many other creative services in addition to my posing abilities is important!

The work I am most proud of is my Conservation projects. Animals and nature still very much call to my heart, so I am currently applying a more conservation-based approach to my work. Through the artist platform Patreon, I have been able to raise money to fund projects benefitting various conservation and animal-based organizations. Last year I donated to San Diego’s own Judith A Basset Canid Education and Conservation Center and did a photoshoot with their adorable foxes. After that, I brought my lifelong dream of swimming with sharks to fruition! I collaborated with underwater cinematographer Reefhunter and Shark Addicts Diving to shoot with Silky, and Bull Sharks in the open ocean. I then put together a calendar with the final images and donated the proceeds to Shark Angels. I’m excited to be bringing all my passions together for the good of our planet. I’m not sure when my next big project will be, but I’m thinking it will involve bees!

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
I cringe a little when I say it, but Instagram is definitely up there on my list of useful apps! Despite its limitations and extreme censorship of my content, it is now how I book the majority of my work and connect with so many other amazing creatives! Without it, I would have never been able to connect with Reefhunter and bring my shark project to life. Patreon has also helped immensely by providing an outlet for my content to be viewed and appreciated as it is intended to be, while also providing a supplementary income to fund my conservation-based projects.

As for books, I am sad to say I haven’t picked one up in some time. However, one of my most recent favorites is Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. It’s hilariously entertaining, yet also life-changing for anyone struggling with mental illness or anyone who knows someone who is struggling.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Adam Attoun, Cathartic Photos, Reefhunter, Jeff Benion, Flesh and Color, Mark Edwards, Elena Kalis, Mike Rollerson, NAImages.

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