Nail art abounds and continues to grow in popularity. Today’s nail artist are now using various techniques that work faster and produce more beautifully detailed and simplistic designs than ever before, with loss effort and hot­ter-quality professional results.

Although many nail technicians may admire nail artists and would like to ho able to offer the service to clients, nail art requires training and practice before you can try your hand on paying customers. First and fore­most, if you'd like to do nail art you need training on the products and techniques. You may be asking your­self where do I begin?  How do I find nail art education? What is the best choice of nail art education for my personal needs and level of ability?

This article will review several sources of nail art education, including top nail artists, manufacturers and their educators, and independent educators.

Anyone Can Do Nail Art

Men and women who venture into the beauty industry, for the most part, are creative by nature and probably already possess the potential (al­though perhaps not the nerve) to do nail art. If you feel you do not, you may be reassured to know that spe­cific techniques are designed for you. You can leave a beginner’s nail art class with the ability to do several techniques and the knowledge to use the correct brushes and tools to achieve them. Classes may spark your imagination and give you just the incentive you need to get start­ed. You may surprise yourself.

As important as it is to continue your education in product technolo­gy (and in most states it's required by law), the same applies to nail art be­cause the techniques and products continually change and improve.

Classes First, Supplies Second

Standing in a beauty supply store and staring at a variety of unfamil­iar products for nail art can be overwhelming. Most professional nail art products are designed for the trained artist so they don't come with instructions. It is not ad­visable to purchase products you are not trained to use; wait until you have taken classes that cover what you want to learn. You can save time and money by not pur­chasing an unfamiliar product.

Once you have found a class you like and are comfortable with a product line, it is best to stay with that complete line because the products are designed to work in conjunction with each other. I do not recommend using non-profes­sional art products on clients nails because I think it defeats the pur­pose of providing a completely pro­fessional, high-quality service. Nail art products are specifically manu­factured for nails only.

Finding Nail Art Classes

You can find out about nail art education through beauty schools, beauty supply stores or the distrib­utor's representatives who frequent your salon, manufacturers, and trade magazines. If you are not on the mailing list at your beauty sup­ply store, get on it. Supply stores frequently mail newsletters and other information concerning up coming educational classes. You may find some coming to your immediate area or one in a nearby town. NAILS publishes a monthly guide to manufacturer-sponsored classes as well as tradeshows, both great educational avenues. There are also books on the subject, but I recommend hands-on education when you’re just starting out coming educational classes. You may find some coming to your immediate area or one in a nearby town. NAILS publishes a monthly guide to manufacturer-sponsored classes as well as tradeshows, both great educational avenues. There are also books on the subject, but I recommend hands-on education when you’re just starting out.

When you've selected a class, you will probably be asked to bring at least 10 painted tips to practice on. Ask the instructor what is required. It is advisable to use #5 or #6 tips, as these are the closest to the aver­age-sized nail. You will be learning to do designs on these tips and it is easier for a novice artist to begin learning on an average-sized nail.

Artists, Educators, & Manufacturers

Liz Fojon, owner of PhenomaNails and her own supply com­pany in Fair Lawn, N.J., offers in­dependent education in nail art. Fojon has been involved in the in­dustry for 15 years, and has won several competitions.

Fojon has two instructional videos, one is an introduction to her "swirl technique," and actually shows the technique being done in a how-to demonstration. The video reviews brushes, paints, and maintenance of your products and tools, and covers handpainting, using nail polish, glit­ters, color combinations, and more.

The second video continues with more exciting knowledge in nail art. Each of her videos show 15 de­signs: an introductory design, four demonstrations, and 10 still shots. 

By learning her techniques and seeing the designs, yon will be able to create virtually hundreds of different designs, from beginning to advanced. Fojon says a third video is being planned.

"When you're learning any tech­nique, you need to absorb a lot of in-; formation at one time," says Fojon. "You can always review a video to re­fresh your memory. Videos also enable you to learn at your own pace, and teach you how to reach a wide variety of people."                       

Michelle Longhini is an independent educator and salon owner of Nails by Michelle in West Palm Beach, Fla. Her salon is also home to "Imagine," the largest nail art gallery in the United States -14,000 framed designs hang on the walls of her 1,400 square-foot salon

Longhini teaches classes in her salon, and also offers one-on-one classes for nail artists who want more intensive training. Longhini been teaching nail art for nine years.

"I try not to label people," says Longhini. "I feel the words 'beginner', 'intermediate', and 'advanced' are opinions, and I try to concen­trate more on terms like skill level."

Longhini's main educational mode is her nail art instruction books, Imagine I and Imagine II. Each book offers 32 full-color pages of more than 2,000 nails fea­turing thousands of designs, offer­ing nail technicians of every skill ability an entire instructional sys­tem. Two more books are in the works, as are an instructional video and a nail art encyclopedia featur­ing work from nail artists all over the world. These items will be available by the end of the year.

Longhini's current books teach seven basic nail art techniques in various skill levels: tipping (apply­ing a second color), striping, dot­ting (using dots of paint to create designs), marbleizing, glitter appli­cation, rhinestones, and foil and lace. In addition, each book shows you how to master your brushes.

"The main focus of my books is just learning the seven basics," says Longhini. "Once a nail technician learns the basics, she will be able to offer thousands of wonderful lit­tle extras to her clients."

Sheryl Macauley, owner of The Nail Resort in Bakersfield, Calif., believes that many nail technicians new to nail art don't have enough confidence in their ability to do it. "A lot of nail technicians look at my nail art and say, 'I wish I could do that but I can't.' They don't give themselves enough credit, and they don't realize that then have to be artistic just to do nails," she says. For this reason, and the fact that there are many gimmicks being sold as nail art, says Macauley, she has written Nail Art At Your Fin­gertips. The glossy, binder-style book includes 20 full-color pages of step-by-step photos of tech­niques and artwork, as well as nu­merous pages describing the vari­ous techniques.

Her book teaches nail art front a nail technician's standpoint rather than an artists. "The book has more pictures than words because nail technicians are very visual," she says. Macauley chose a binder-style book because she will be continu­ally creating new pages for techni­cians to add. Technicians who buy the book will be put on a mailing list and regularly informed about addi­tions. Macauley, who has been a nail art competitor for 12 years, also teaches one-on-one instruction.

Jane Lax, owner of Jani Nail De­sign (Santa Paula, Calif.), insists on offering top-quality products and the necessary education for their use. "Our paints have the highest rating in the industry," says Milt Lax, husband and co-owner of Jani Nail Design.

Lax expects the same top quality of her educators. Though scattered throughout the U.S., they all come together for four-day seminars every 18 months to two years to learn about new techniques, prod­ucts, and class structure. All Jani educators leach the same curricu­lum, although each of them does interject her own ideas.

Chris Young, an independent ed­ucator based in Baltimore, Md., is contracted by Jani Nail Design. Young is the company's East Coast regional director of nail art education. She has been involved with nail art for 10 years, teaches at trade shows, does in-store demonstrations, and teaches classes for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced student wherever the product is sold on the East Coast.

NAILS asked Young what one could expect to learn in a beginner’s class. "A beginners class may in­clude nugget foil, foilizing, striping tape, and the application of gems such as rhinestones," says Young. "In an intermediate/advanced class.' we teach flat nail art, which is work­ing with paint and brushes."

Says Marlene Sortino, owner of Snails Italian Jewelry, Inc. (Boca Raton, Ma.), "Snails offers three classes: beginner's nail art, advanced nail art and a painting technique class." The beginner’s two-hour hands-on workshop teaches proper full-proof application of basic nail art supplies. You learn how to apply rhinestones, glitter, Mardi Gras, and bouillon, and are taught the difference between foil nuggets and foil glazing and the proper application of each. You also are shown how easy the most difficult products to use are, such as lace overlay, feath­ers, and snake skins. Included in the beginner’s class are a kit and a nail art poster having over 150 designs.

In the advanced class, which is also a two-hour workshop, educa­tors instruct you on extensive use of nail art products. You learn holi­day designs, how to detail your foil glazing, and how to do lace overlay for weddings and much more. You will also dabble a little in the com­pany's paints with your lineal brush, and learn basic hand painting and combined use with other nail prod­ucts. Included in the advanced class are an advanced kit, which in­cludes a lineal brush and a nail art poster that depicts 150 designs.

The painting technique work­shop teaches hand painted designs and backgrounds and two holiday designs. Educators will show you a different way to look at shapes and designs. With the hands-on in­struction, you'll be able to "paint al­most anything with a little prac­tice," says Sortino. Drag art and learning to use a marbleizing tool is also covered in this class. Includ­ed in the painting technique class are a paint kit containing 12 paints, a four-piece brush set, a marbleiz­ing tool and a nail art poster that has more than 150 designs. Snails' slogan is, "Practice makes perfect and perfect makes profit!"

Lynn Rae Ries, president of San Francisco Nails Art Company, Inc. (San Leandro, Calif), explains her company's four steps to educating: "Our primary methods are videos, books, leaflets, and product inserts. Education through video and books enables us to educate tech­nicians in rural and distant areas where it may be difficult for them to obtain education," says Ries.

"The second topic we approach is brushes," she continues. "Each brush includes an instructional guide insert, as do our kits. The third method is through trade-shows in conjunction with beauty supply houses.

"The videos begin with a series called Fun and Fancy which shows you how to use glitter, foil, leath­ers, striping, rhinestones, and marbleizing hand paintings next, and the videos and books begin to ex­pose the beginner to more ad­vanced designs," Ries concludes.

New to Nail Art?

A former nail art student, Cindy Vincenti who works at i Natural Salon in Owings Mills, Md., told NAILS how she got started with her nail art education: "I appren­ticed in a salon that did not encour­age nail art. At that time I knew I needed to get education to keep up in the industry, and f also knew nail art would mean a lot to my suc­cess." Vincenti chose to begin with one-on-one classes with a private independent educator. Her deter­mination to learn enabled the edu­cator to leach her many techniques in a very short time. Before long, Vincenti was adding her own ideas to the techniques and making the designs her own.

When she completed advanced classes, Vincenti continued to keep her nail art fresh by obtaining videos and books that offered new ideas.

Nail art education is an ongoing process. Nail technicians learn from each other. Educators learn from each other and classes are ever changing. There's always something new to be learned. Once you have reached a certain level of ability with nail art, you can pursue many options. Ideas to create new designs are every­where. You'll soon learn to repro­duce anything that interests you. Something may catch your eye on a greeting card, wrapping paper, or fabric, for example, and a new design is inspired.

You don't need an art degree or even a given talent to do nail art. Nail art is a skill you can learn by using many different methods. Perhaps somewhere in the pages of this article, some­thing will have appealed to you as a way of getting started. It's about setting goals. If you believe in yourself, you are definitely off to a good start.

As surely as no two people have the same penmanship, neither will they have the same brush stroke. Therefore, no matter what you paint, be it an educator's design, a colleagues idea or your own, it will be unique because it has been done by your stroke of the brush.


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