Meet Your Models: Jonathan Bowling

Jonathan Bowling has inspired me from the beginning.  In 2009, I was recruiting for a bawdy Neverland themed Costume Carnival, and I recognized that he would make the perfect Peter Pan. Rakish and charming, with tousled copper locks and an enthusiasm for stories, he was made for the role. Since then, he has continuously expanded his repertoire of characters to include both beloved icons and those of his own design. His dedication to the craft is impressive as he painstakingly constructs elaborate costumes and hunts for the perfect props to complete his ensembles. Pulling from his creative background in animation, Bowling’s talents as a storyteller continue into his job as a host for interactive mystery experiences. It’s safe to say he has successfully fulfilled his childhood dream of professional dressing up.


Bowling in his breakout role as Peter Pan with Kira Tucker as the lovely Tiger Lily. Photo by Sarafina-Murphy Gibson.

Where were you born?

Tallahassee, Florida.

How long have you been with the Academy?

I started modeling in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I began modeling every week. I was also a student in character animation from 2007 through 2013.

List three words to describe your modeling style.

Quirky, acting and fun.

Who are your favorite characters to portray?

Link from The Legend of Zelda, Bilbo Baggins and Alfredo Linguini from Ratatouille.

What’s your favorite part of being an artist model?

There are a lot of things, but my favorite is getting to be a character and when I do my job right it manifests in the students’ artwork.

What is your favorite type of class?

Visual development’s character design courses, because unlike classes where the students are drawing strictly from life they are given a spark and have to create on that. It’s fun to see all their unique drawings.

Do you have a signature pose?

I always have a signature look of wonder in my eyes! Especially for my Baggins character.  I widen my eyes, smile slightly and tilt my head.  

What’s something that might surprise people about artist modeling?

How difficult simple poses can be!

What is the best album to pose to?

Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare. It gets me pumped and gives me energy for tough poses.  

If you could be drawn by any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

It’s a toss up between Norman Rockwell for his expressions or William Bouguereau for how beautifully he renders people.  

Dream guest model to pose with?

I’ve always wanted to pose with an X-wing ship.

What are your hobbies outside modeling?

Creating puzzle rooms for my other job and for fun. Board games, folk dancing, hiking and working on my personal artwork.

What is the last book you read?

John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

If you joined the circus who would you be?

The magician trickster.

If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Ireland. Specifically being able to work at the Cartoon Saloon with Tomm Moore, who is my favorite animator.  

If you were an animal what would you be?

A red panda.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Spiderman’s powers, because I’m still obsessed with him.

Name something on your bucket list.

To meet Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield.

Who would play you in your biography?

Jesse Eisenberg. A lot of people compare me to him and I can’t deny it!

Final quote?

“Whatever you do, make it the best you can at the moment, because that’s all you have.”