As the editor in charge of NAILS two monthly nail art departments (Nail Art Studio and Reader Nail Art), I'm frequently searching for talented nail artists. I was thrilled when I found Wendy Causey on BeautyTech.com about a month ago. I was impressed with the sheer variety of her handpainted designs and, once I realized she too was in Torrance, Calif. (where NAILS is headquartered), I knew I had to meet her in person.
I went earlier this week and got my favorite set of toenail art yet. (Those are my newly done nails in the picture.) Wendy, who's a graduate of Flavio Beauty College and currently works at Vivify Hair and Nails Studio, humored me as I asked her a million questions about her nail art inspiration. Some highlights of our chat are below. I hope you find her nail art and her down-to-earth attitude as refreshing as I did.
Q: How did you get your start in nail art?
A: I was an art major in college for a few years, and I've been doing various arts and crafts my entire life. I would paint flowers on my nails during art class. Later, when I was licensed as a nail tech, a client came in with a dress she was wearing to a pool party that week and it had little flowers on it. I told her we could paint flowers on her nails to match. She liked the design so much on her fingers that I put it on her toes as well. Word of mouth caused my work to spread. Since then, interest has come and gone a few times, but now it feels like it's here to stay.
Q: How do you display your nail art?
A: I keep a binder (the kind that you can add pages to) in the salon and place my newest nail art photos in the front of the binder. The rest of it is organized by category, like animal prints, flowers, or party themes (weddings, baby showers, etc.)
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for new designs?
A: I keep a "morgue" of inspirational ideas, which is a separate binder that I sometimes pull out if a client doesn't see what she's looking for in the nail art binder. It's full of things like fabric swatches, wrapping paper, stickers, and cut-outs from magazines. If a client likes one of these ideas, I sort of have to design it for a finger or toenail on the fly. Sometimes it doesn't always come out exactly right, like it will be uneven or I'll get polish on the client's skin. I always ask the client if she'd like me to fix it right then, but my clients understand my time constraints and will usually say that the work is fine and any excess polish will come off in the shower anyhow. That's the real world.
Q: What's your favorite nail art supply, like a favorite brush?
A: I find that, like bras, every time I find a brush I like, the manufacturer discontinues it. I like red sable brushes the best, but it is extremely expensive to get nice ones. I use polish as the background for my designs, then do the design itself using acrylic paint.
Q: What's your most popular design?
A: There isn't really one design that's the most popular; as I create a new design, that becomes the new favorite. You have to keep creating. As far as viewer reaction goes, when people get polka dots on their nails, they seem to report more compliments than almost any other design (even the more complicated ones). The hardest thing for me is writing text, like someone's name, on a nail.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I'm learning 3-D acrylic art now. I started out learning through trial and error because I couldn't find a class at first. I started calling all the companies that sell 3-D acrylic and through that I found out that INM educator Rachel Mouritsen would be teaching one at Nail Emporium in Anaheim; I went to that and it was really helpful.