Competition can be good or bad which is what I attempt to explain here.
I will tell you a true Story about London UK story of competion in the UK in the last 20 years. I would love to hear Stories of what has happened anywhere in the World.
UK LONDON in 2003
Life Drawing was a tiny industry with very little competition because Life Drawing was nearly Free for 100's of Thousands of British low wage, unemployed citizens at Adult education places, so only a few would rather not pretend to be unemployed and go to classes where the entry fee was about £15. The Word Drop-in Life Drawing didn't exist as 5 mins late was the maximum tolerated. No one ever heard of classes with people going to the pub after a class or even showing their drawings at the end. No talking, no music and models were contracted to work for 10 weeks at the minimum wage then which was £3.20/h. Heaters for the model as well as yoga mats were optional so models had to provide. All Universities and Schools had their list of Life models and they would sometime cooperate and exchange contact details. Classes were two hours long with a short tea break in the middle, thanks god for the lovely tea and biscuits :).
A very succesful /important couple of Artists who were excellent and passionate about their Art and teaching, also had their list of Life Models but they became a Charity and shared a lot of information with their members including their List of models of about 20/30 of them for years. Before they retired they spoke to one of their Life models, Rachel, then who suggested that she would like to keep on using that list but try to have it showing online as the most simple and neutral, one page, Website, to possible employers. Because they were retiring they agreed and left. Ram or Modelreg was Born. They were simply hoping to find Life modeling jobs for themselves and a growing number of friends, which became a small community of women mainly.
Before the Millenium most of the Government's Funding went towards building a new London for the Tourists and the business industry. Unfortunately dozens of Art schools/ Art departments could not afford Life models any more due to loss of funding, Art teachers lost their jobs and what was left was strict rules and curriculum. Only those can survive in difficult times...
In 2002, Central Saint Martins was on Charring cross road and only had one school, Ram had only 30 models, London only had about 20 Life Drawing Classes and 2 Portrait classes.
In 2002 I was very Lucky to go to classes myself Off Church Street in Stoke Newington were the teacher was hardly existent,really, and where connection between attendees was amazing. They would also find their own models and self support as a good small community. I was finishing a Grand Design Building project on me own that took 4 years digging a floor down in my house and where I created a smart home dream like Basement flat out of nothing. SO I needed my Sanity back that I could only find in Life Drawing classes down the road until I moved in completely to the finished Building near Victoria Park.
I then found Life Drawing my new Classes at the Shoreditch Campus. This felt like going back to Primary school were nothing was allowed and had to learn the hard way/Curriculum. Models were the worst part as I found out that they weren't even getting the Minimum wage, contracted for 10 weeks and could not miss one class or could find themselves very very poor. They posed while crying... It wasn't easy for those colleges and unis to find models ready to suffer in the cold, in those terrible conditions and the only way they could find was to ask Ram/Modelreg for help and that was even before 2000. Not all jobs for life models were that badly paid so it was a good idea to run the group and make the most out of the better paid jobs and Rachel did. The Ram Dynasty was Born and she just kept on convincing more and more Art teachers/Schools/Unis, that she could help for FREE (at first) providing them with models who'd accept the lowest possible wages as those where the only jobs left. All the good /easy jobs were gone in minutes... I guess this is human nature...
Something very wrong was happening so I would take a few Artists after classes, to the Pub which was something quite weird then, to try to figure things out. My motive was also to try to build a friendly and happy community. After weeks of discussion I ended up with the conclusion that the only way was to run our own classes. I din't need Ram at all and only really took notice of them about 5 years later. My neighbors were Art teachers and had their own list of Life models that they shared happily.
The next step was to Start Classes and I knew a Lady through my handy building work who suggested to help me/help each other, the Barter system way. She was a very well know local Advertising via Flyers/Listing woman.
When came to work together I just couldn't, her voice was incredibly piercing/ loud and unbearable and she was also a bit too nice/single so I kept away except for Hiring a tiny community room from her, yards from Bethnal green tube Station on Paradise Row where it all started on a cold full moon night.
I decided to make an impact then and advertised and Gumtree a £4 class which was then 1/3 of what other independent classes were charging. Very quickly the room became too small for the demand and found a pub instead with a bigger room in Farringdon. I then, left this room and class, to Nils Edelman, you may know, with a small financial agreement he never kept, probably because of the buzz he was witnessing and this new cash Industry getting born in front of him.
To me it felt like millions of amateurs were waiting for me to improve/save the situation. We nearly had more IPAD drawing classes in London. With all those classes, I started running out of Life models and people to help me run classes all over. So my good idea was to triple Life models wages, plant a seed and see what could happen next using Gumtree as an incredibly powerfull tool at the time. I would advertise for a life modeling job at this new rate, never seen before, and on Monday, Tuesdays I would receive 2 to 300 applications per day. Artists simply could not believe their luck of having 100 times more choice in who they could draw. Until then Life models were 90% Students or ex-students, suddenly Life models were from all age groups, up to 92 years old, or shapes and sizes.
After a year I was trying to run about 8 classes a week including in offices with 3 to 5 ex students and Nils, running all sorts of classes all over with £4/5 classes and Models paid £10/h.
Very soon I realized that I was getting bad press from Ram and people she was providing models for such as Central St Martins. Everything started changing then. Many big players in the Art education where annoyed with the fact that all those new development had nothing to do with them and could not stand it. Their frustration simply continued and amplified. Ram who was the only one not to profit so much of the situation and who had 100 times the amount of models they had a year before, could not resist the temptation to start charging them to even been allowed to work. Soon after, Ram decided try to be even more active in his new Gold rush, they gave a go at what was making the most money then, which was to run Life Drawing classes. The cherry on the cake for them was to invent the audition process so they would never ever need to pay for a Life model in their classes and found a small hall in Islington at very very low rate. So Finally they could afford a new website and image, thanks to thousands of desperate Life models who have been and still are fooled.
What didn't help the situation between me and them, was the fact that I had so many models in my books that I created a Life model group, agency, collective first on Meetup and in a few other ways after that, without even knowing who was Ram.
To make my true story shorter let's say that I also started the first Life Drawing group on Meetup ever, Had a disabled Indian man, to create databases of people interested in Drawing who contacted me for most, so I could invite 70K of them to meetup in 2005, had up to 12 groups and he saved enough to then go and live in Canada.
in 2006 from 20 classes we had in London we had around 60 and about 20 ran by brand new competitors all helped by Ram who used mainly Free to use Life models auditionees... Auditions had become the only way in, in Life modeling.
Many people I knew for a few years simply could not resist , ignore me and start their own classes and were for the majority convinced to adopt an old Fashion way, strict and austere style as it would create the balance needed for their newly born business.
I was in 2007 still pulling my heavy trolley and carrying my heavy Rucksacks/bags . Not everybody could have done that I have to thanks to Sporty, weight training past. I was also creating any classes many were craving/asking for from Gesture, to Theatrical, Performance and also boudoir style, or Burlesque. This is when a few competitors heard of it and thought that something they may be able to use against me to get rid of their problem and finally benefit fully of this new cash revolution with honors. Soon my Classes became £7 and Models were getting £12/h. Incredibly I read Ram's website telling that they, themselves, raised the models wages, again lying and manipulation opinions.
In 5 years this industry grew a thousand times bigger and many took huge advantage from it. Central Saint Martins in 2009 had 3 schools by then, The Princes Foundation started their school in Shoreditch, Ram had thousands of models, Nils was filling a 3 X 4 meter room with 25 people every week, trying to draw a naked Life model cms from their eyes on nose, thanks to that Lady I knew in Local Advertising as I intentionally brought those 2 together :), I created my Network website that went under attack many time. Ram was then already asking their models for favors exchange as well as another still unknow US competitor.
Venues would tell their friends about good old Tony and his meetup empire so that they could then run succesful events in Bethnal Green at the Buddhist centre. I won't tell their name as it's not really their fault. Another would come and see me at an Art Gallery I was then running in Redchurch street asking me for a job but in fact she didn't really know what to do. In a long friendly conversation I told her that the Future in Life Drawing was Theatrical and started a new venture at the Tate and called her business the Drawing Theatre. Again because I thought she was really amazing and talented and that she doesn't need any help I simply smiled looking at her business growing exponentially. She never wanted to meet again.
As you can now understand being incredibly succesful has it's risks and when the amount of people concerned becomes thousands, some people choose to resist, sabotage, stab in the back as no one will ever know and use whatever can help them do that.
SInce I kept running classes, ended up competing with many others with many ideas I created or just spoke about in a pub, until I had a sever foot injury due to years of pulling, carrying this weight and spending the rest of my time on the Laptop rather than at the Gym or Stadium. I ended up running two classes a week and ended up stopping my last one I was running for 4 years in a Comedy club for creativity and happy laugh. I had sick family members on the continent and needed to travel many times and ended up loosing both of them.
When I was just about to start classes again in March I think, the Virus happened and caught it, felt like I had caught something from another planet so strange I felt, but took care of myself and 5 days later I was fine.
Only a few weeks after the beginning of this pandemic a few brave people, mainly female, started Zoom Life Drawing classes and I just didn't know anything about zoom so I took time to get there and create a new website you can read now. From about 5/6 classes in the first month of this epidemic we now have about 200, including Life models for 1/2 who run thier own so many have started to give up and ended up desperate for cash so had to start in Person Life drawing classes. Please do not fall in the trap of busy indoor Life Drawing classes as this may be the last... Be safe, stay home and let's try to bring this all community together without nasty competition, criminal actions, Police getting involved, model agency running their mafia and conspiracy, backstabbing because they think nobody will ever know... :) Too many innocent Life models have ended up believing their lies and did put themselves in incredibly risky/dangerous situations so that they may get offered a job or two... This has to do with the safety of good people and should be stopped immediately. It's been happening for about 12 years now and luckily nothing bad had happened, touch wood this never happens.
So in a few words please keep on drawing, Painting, being creative and if you ever hear anything bad about anyone, simply ignore as this is the competition soup that was created unintentionally trying to save Drawing classes from extinction with people getting together, sharing and becoming friends part of a true community. Unfortunately very little of that has ever happened. I may just be a dreamer and I don't give up improving my World and my Life. Could it possible that I would have never bothered if I wasn't a true Buddhist at heart? That's the Japanese one/ Nam myoho rengue kyo...
Feel free to learn more about my views on what is and has been good competition that made good things happen on our "Good Competition" sub page.
Please don't try this at home. Turning nothing into everything cannot benefit the common individual. If I was English from birth, I would have never done this and could never succeed fully because of that as my English isn't perfect. 99% of Actual successful, in person, classes in the UK are run by UK born citizens and 70% of them can't even draw or paint, but it's not an exception it is absolutely the same in every country you'll ever find Life Drawing classes...
I hope no one will see any pretension in telling the truth as I don't really want to spend the next 40 years being the only one to know what really did happen and in fact what I wrote here is only the tip of the iceberg...