How do I do nails for celebrities, movies, commercials, etc.?

September 10, 2012

I’m an established nail tech in the New York area. (I’ve been a nail tech for 25 years and had my own nail business for six.) I am looking to branch out. Specifically, I’m interested in doing nails for celebrities, movies, commercials etc., but I’m not sure how to make those connections. Do you have any suggestions or info for me?


The good news is that manicurists take the same steps as a makeup artist or hairstylist to gain entrance into the business of print, video, film, and television. There are no secrets. Everything starts with building a portfolio through a process called testing. Quite simply, the manicurist connects with photographers, makeup artists, hairstylists, and fashion stylists who have the same goal — to build a portfolio with pictures that can be used to get work in the entertainment and fashion industries.

Working with professional photographers is key. I always suggest visiting photography schools like Art Center in Pasadena, Calif., SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York, and the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, to name a few. These schools and more are easily unearthed with a Google search that contains the words, “photography schools + city, state.” Once identified, the manicurist should call and ask if there is a system in place to connect manicurists with photographers who are building their books for fashion and beauty. If the answer is yes — sign up. If the answer is no, I suggest getting over to the campus and introducing yourself to the professors and the photographers in class.

There are also some great websites, like and, where artists congregate, connect, and work on their portfolios.

As soon as you have about 10 to 12 great images in your print or online portfolio you’re ready to start sharing your work with creative decision-makers who can hire you for work.

— Crystal Wright is the author of Crystal Wright’s Hair Makeup & Fashion Styling Career Guide (available on, which provides more detailed guidance on becoming a celebrity manicurist.

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