Masterworks founder Amy Becker first appeared on NAILS’ radar in 1994 when she landed the #14 spot on our Top 25 Competitors Ranking. And she’s been competing — and winning — ever since. That is, up until a few years ago when she decided to take a break from the grind. “At the time I quit, I had been competing in 40+ competitions a year for three years in a row,” she says. “I got pretty burned out, but never achieved the goals I set for myself in the competition arena.”
Nonetheless, Becker was back in the battle at ISSE Long Beach in February. So what drew her back? “I took a class from Thai nail artist Pisut Masanong last October. His class was amazing and when I started to practice what he taught, I got the bug back,” says Becker. “Also, I’ve always used competing as a way to build a reputation in the nail industry and I realized there were two years’ worth of new nail techs who had no idea who I was or how I could help them.”
Moreover, as much as Becker enjoyed the break, she missed the pressure-cooker environment that forced her to improve her skills and develop new techniques. “It was through competing that I worked on the gel techniques that nail techs started using in the salon to achieve acrylic-quality results,” she says. “I continued to work on these techniques over the last couple of years, but putting them to work in competitions allows me to see how they compare and what I need to improve on.”
Becker has noted a few changes since returning to competing. “The quality of work in the Hand Painted Nail Art category has changed dramatically,” she says. “It’s imperative that nail artists can paint faces accurately. The amount of detail also should not be overlooked; winning work should contain detail that’s not noticed at first glance, while large areas of one color should be avoided.” She also suggests that nail art entries create a panoramic picture. “When the design connects from nail to nail, the level of difficulty is much higher, resulting in higher scores,” she says. Becker also notes that there are now more competition categories to choose from, including Soak-Off Gel Polish, Bling, and Foil Embossed Nail Art.
By contrast, she says one of her favorite competition categories, Pink-and-White Sculptured Nails, hasn’t changed much at all. Says Becker: “Tom Holcomb just about perfected the ideal, streamlined nail necessary to win in these competitions. I say ‘just about’ because there has never been a perfect set of nails.”
Becker advises anyone contemplating a jump into the competition arena to set goals. “I dream big and set big goals. The biggest one I have set for myself is to regularly win Pink-and-White Sculptured competitions using gel rather than acrylic, as most do. This has never been done, but I believe I can do it!”