My mom used to tell me that I could be in the Sears catalogue, and girlfriends kept telling me I had nice hands… so eventually it occurred to me that perhaps I could monetize this asset. So when I finally moved to Toronto to pursue a career in acting, I began collecting ads in which hands were featured. When I got my acting head shots done, I brought in the ads I had collected along with a bunch of props, so we ended up shooting some hand photos which I then confidently presented to various modeling agencies.

Ouch! I got rejected by every major agency I approached simply because I wasn’t 6 feet tall (that hasn’t changed!) and they did not want to represent me “just” for hands. Sutherland, Ford, etc. you name it…they all said no! But being the persistent kid that I am, I kept on seeking out an agent who would take me on the roster for my hands and I eventually found a smaller agency who took a chance on me. And that’s how the doors finally opened. This was a great lesson in persistence and overcoming the illusions of impossibility!

The first time my hands were featured on camera was when I got hired to host a corporate video for the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It was a hosting job but they ended up featuring my hands a lot due to the instructional nature of the video.

My first real “hand model” opportunity came a few years later after replying to an ad on Craigslist, which turned out to be the corporate video for Deloitte seen here.

Being a hand model is not all glamour. Sometimes you have to learn a new skill before shoot day, sometimes you have to cope with products that are difficult to use or handle but make it seem super easy. Your hands also have to be really stable and your motions fluid and effortless, despite your body being placed in a an awkward position for an extended period of time. For example, I once had to crouch and make myself so small that my whole body would actually fit inside a “Clearance DVD” bin. Holes had been cut in the top so that I could pass my hand thru and wave DVDs at a passing client. (check out my backstage area!).

It’s always exciting to shoot with a brand that is known for their very unique commercials (Mio for example) but it’s also been a treat to shoot some classic hand model stuff that I saw alot on TV when I was a kid.

Things like Santa’s white-gloved hands, or the famous hand that places the hero laundry detergent next to the leading brand! We’ve all seen those haven’t we?

Yup. I usually try to get someone else to do the dishes!  Otherwise, I wear gloves when doing dishes, I try to moisturize every day, and I treat myself to manicures before auditions and bookings. I also take extra precautions whenever possible – for example, if I’m playing a sport, I’ll definitely be wearing the “optional” gloves. That and keeping my fingertips out of my mouth when I’m stressed – very important!

It just makes sense to do all this because you never know when work might come knocking on your door and your hands have to pretty much be “camera-ready” at all times. I used to be too cool for gloves during winter – well, not anymore!

Not particularly. I was using Glysomed for a while but it’s so greasy you can hardly touch anything after applying that stuff. If anything, I suppose I could use it as a night cream. One of the best hand lotions I’ve ever used was a sample I received at a high-end hotel. It hydrated very well and my hands never got oily.

If any company wants to sponsor me with a hand lotion, please contact me! 🙂

Being the official hand of ING Direct.  This shoot was my first one done against a green screen, where I was required to push a button that did not really exist! This job was also the first one that required me to shave my hands and wrists, as they wanted an androgenous hand. But those two hours of work really paid off. They led to large a billboard invasion at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto – I remember the first time I saw my hands there – I’d never ever seen them so big! It was truly a very cool feeling!

This job was also the highlight of my career because to this day, it remains my highest payout ever because they were creating new commercials every year until… they suddenly rebranded as Tangerine and replaced my beautiful hand with a bearded guy and his orange mug that everyone finds annoying!

The irony of my relationship with ING Direct is that I had switched my banking over to them a year prior to landing this contract that would pay dividends for years so it was an interesting example of good karma. It’s unfortunate that this company decided to rebrand COMPLETELY in 2014. I mean, how many companies do that? Argh. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

The most surprising thing I learned was that in general, when we see a closeup of an actor’s hands on TV, it’s actually a closeup of a different person’s hands who was hired as a “hand double”, and who recorded these inserts at a later time. Most of the time it works really well but I do remember one show I did where my character had much older hands and I could totally spot the discrepancy when watching the episode. Most people however would not have spotted this “easter egg”. (easter eggs are inconsistencies and mistakes one finds in movies). But when I tell them to look out for that, they say “Oh ya!”.

Well, I’ve set out to become the “go to” guy for hands in Toronto and I hope to expand outside of the city in the future in order to model as many different products as I can. But if I had to name one thing that I still haven’t done, it’s the classic close-up shot of holding the double cheesburger before the actor bites into it! That would be cool.

Just like the hand job thing, people ask me this almost every time I work. And no, I still haven’t taken the time to watch that episode!

A person can get work as a hand model in print advertisements, as a demonstrator in television/internet commercials, or work as a hand double in film and television.

You pretty much need an agent to get this type of work but there are exceptions. I got my first gig in Toronto thru a Craigslist ad! (and no it wasn’t for that kind of hand job!).

Yes and no. I’ve been lucky enough to get most of my work simply by having clients review my handshots. However, sometimes they really don’t know what they want and bring in a wide variety of hands at an audition to see how different genders or ethnicities look using their product or performing a certain action. Such an action can be anything such as cutting up vegetables quickly or hammering a nail properly, which cannot be assessed by looking at a picture. They want to make sure your hands are the right size for their product. For example, you may have to hold an 8″ tablet with one hand and not everyone’s fingers are long enough to do this.

Another reason they might bring you in for an audition is to see the current condition of your hands – just because your pictures look great, it doesn’t mean you didn’t just scrape the top of your hand or develop a white spot on your nail this week!

So yes, expect to audition, and count your blessings when you’re hired straight from picture!

HOW I BECAME A HAND MODEL DESPITE HAND INJURIES

Who would have guessed that I would ever be a hand model? Not only did I grow up in a city where there are no hand model jobs, but I also had suffered 3 serious injuries to my hands BEFORE the start of my hand modeling career.

As a child I once closed the car door on my own thumb (just thinking about it gives me goosebumps) – luckily it didn’t fall off. At a later time I received a swiss army knife from my godfather. I opened it to look at the blade and when i closed it back, it snapped violently across the tip of my finger. Again, I was lucky not to lose my fingertip.

In my adult years, I was hand washing a glass which all of a sudden broke under the pressure, slicing open my finger and instantly turning the water red. I had to drive myself to the hospital with latex gloves on to prevent blood from spewing in my car. Got stitched up and healed pretty well. No accidents since. I guess three times was a charm!

(NOTE: The reason I included this here was to inspire you in the pursuit of your craziest dreams. This was something crazy that I really wanted to do, the odds were stacked against me… yet I still made it happen. You can too!)