Outside Hope Street Pizza, beneath a pastel sunset of pinks and reds, Kate Royce lounges on a metal chair, sipping a drink that’s equal parts pineapple and liquid playfulness. Everything Royce does carries an air of confidence – chatting with strangers, waving at friends – sliding in and out of social situations effortlessly. Perhaps it comes with the profession. In addition to working as a model for RISD, Royce is the owner and operator of Further Than The Figure, a monthly art series where models alternate between two stages – photography and sketch – bringing the artistic communities together.
Royce got her start in the kinetic arts when she modeled for a photographer friend. “I got in at the tail end of her budding career,” she says. “That was fun, and I realized I had some kind of potential.” After this introduction, she attended a Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School “drink and draw,” as Royce describes it, “where they get down to legal nude. I thought, ‘That was a lot of fun, I really want to do that again.’ I have a friend who owns Bambu Tattoo and he said, ‘Why don’t you do it yourself? You can do it at my tattoo shop.’”
And so, Further Than The Figure was born. “For the first Further, I modeled with my roommate and it was so stressful. You could tell on my face,” she recalls, with a laugh. “It’s hard to run an event and be a model [at the same time], so I stepped back and decided that I was just going to hire newer models and help them learn.” Almost two years later, Further Than The Figure continues its positive relationship with both the local modeling scene and Bambu Tattoo, even after the shop moved from Richmond Street to its current location on Bassett Street.
“During the first year, we had a tight group of people,” says Royce. “You saw some new faces, but that core bunch was always there. Later, they started drifting away, not because they lost interest, but because they got so good [at photography or drawing] they could hold their own shows or galleries. It was astonishing to watch, and proved that Further works for those that want to get better.”
Each month carries a theme to give the attending models an idea as to what they will be wearing. The most recent event was titled “Tasty Treats,” and featured kitchen attire, pastries and cooking utensils. “For Tasty Treats we had a food fight, and it was so epic,” Royce says, smiling big. “Afterward, we had to hose down the parking lot for 30 minutes, both front and back. The models were fighting each other with flour, I had a male model wearing a chef outfit and they all smeared cake all over each other.”
And it goes without saying, if a modeling event collides with a tattoo shop venue, you can expect a lot of skin. Within legal limits, of course. “Sketch artists want to see skin,” Royce says. “That’s just how it goes.”
Part of Royce’s vision is to host “a creative space where models, photographers and sketch artists can grow.” It’s a communal experience that invites local artists (and aspiring artists) to gather with like-minded individuals who are also looking to spread their wings. Plus, it’s a great way for models to build a portfolio. “The models are screened and paid,” says Royce. “The rest of the crowd pays $10 per person to enter, but we encourage people to bring their own booze. It’s totally cool. Oh, and voyeurs are welcome, too.”
As an added bonus, Bambu offers space for selling artwork produced at the monthly events. “Truth be told,” says Royce, “we’re open to any artistic medium. We have a woman who comes just to play guitar, and another guy once used his laptop to create some digital art.” Whether you sketch, photograph, paint, write or play music, this monthly art series is a must-see for anyone looking for something a little different and a little more risque. Check out “Pajama Party” on September 9 at Bambu Tattoo.