How to Get Started Modeling in Asia
One of the most important markets for new and even experienced models is Asia. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taipei, and other Asian markets are considered must-stops for models looking to develop their skills and build strong books with professional modeling tearsheets.
Once a model has successfully worked in Asia they officially become a “professional model" and significantly increase their chances of getting signed to a big agency in New York, Milan, Paris, London, and other major markets. It is also much easier to get working papers and visas that allow the model to work in other countries.
Types of Models Working in Asia
As with any modeling market, modeling agencies in Asia look for different types of models. Agencies in Asia represent male and female models, child models, editorial and commercial models.
One of the best things about model agencies and clients in Asia is that they will work with models who are shorter or smaller than models normally working in the U.S. or European markets.
The height of female models can start at 5' 6", and male models can start at 5' 10". It is possible for models to be even shorter and still find work in Asia.
Rather than concentrating on just a model's height, agencies look at the total package the model presents, such as excellent skin, hair, teeth, and a good personality.
Previous Modeling Experience Not Necessary
It is not a requirement that you have previous modeling experience to work in Asia; however, every little bit helps. It is recommended that you have some understanding of how to work on set with photographers and stylists, and do at least three to four test shoots (or some local work in your hometown) before attempting the Asian market.
Agencies Will Advance Travel Expenses
Almost all agencies in Asia will offer to advance your airline ticket and accommodation expenses. The agency will also advance the cost of your composite cards, website fees, and some spending money.
Agencies are willing to advance travel expenses to help get you started and you will be expected to pay the agency back once you start booking jobs. If you do not earn enough to pay the agency back then the agency will absorb the loss and you will not be required to pay them back from your own pocket.
Agencies can also offer a model a “Guarantee.” A guarantee is a set amount of income that the model will be guaranteed to earn whether or not the model actually earns that amount. When a model becomes popular with the agency's clients or becomes an important model with good tearsheets and experience in markets like New York, Paris, and Milan, a model's guarantee can range anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 U.S. dollars and up. Top models can receive guarantees of over $150,000 U.S. just for a two-month stay.
Parents Can Travel With Younger Models
Parents are welcome to travel with a model who may be traveling for the first time or is under 18 years of age. Agencies are very used to this and it is never a problem. Parents will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses and may choose to stay only a couple of weeks or for the entire contract.
Market Is Busy All Year Round
Some modeling markets are only good to travel to during a particular time of year. However, the Asian market can be busy all year. The summer months are usually the most competitive because so many high school students go during that time, so if you can travel during the spring, fall or winter you may actually book more modeling jobs.
Two Month Contracts
Models are usually offered a two-month contract; however, the actual amount of time the model will stay will depend on how many bookings they receive and how clients are responding to them.
How to Get Represented by Asian Agencies
We don't recommend that you tackle the modeling market in Asia on your own or before you have a good "mother agency" behind you. It is always best to have a mother agency promoting you to international markets. A good mother agent will know what the best agencies are for your particular look and how to plan and manage your career for the long-term. Also, since there are legal documents, travel visas, and other contracts that need to be reviewed, an experienced mother agent can be invaluable in helping you understand what everything means.
If you do not have a mother agent, a great place to start is ModelScouts.com.