This is how to become a nail artist

You can turn your childhood dream into reality, just ask Chelsea King...

Chelsea King HEADSHOT.jpg
Chelsea King HEADSHOT.jpg

You can turn your childhood dream into reality, just ask Chelsea King...

Love nail art? Want to make a career out of it? Step forward Revlon’s new Global Nail stylist, Chelsea King, who turned her passion for nail art into a thriving career.

After finding a few basic nail art tutorials online, she tried it out for herself and the rest is, as they say, history. All in around five years.

We sat down with Chelsea to find out everything you need to know about the art of nails, whether you’re a budding nail artist or fully-fledged pro. Obsessed with beauty? You need to check out beauty site Powder for personalised product recommendations – try one out here.

Why did you start nail art? 

I've always painted, but I liked how it was something I could wear for a few days and change depending on my mood, my nails are my business cards.

What sort of nail art designs should budding artists start out with?

Flowers are a good start – they can be very simple until you get the hang of it and then work to make them more intricate.

What are the easiest colour combinations to try when you’re just starting out?

Black and white is a classic and always looks cool no matter what you do with the design.

What should every nail artist carry in their kit?

The basics for me are cuticle oil, topcoat, nude polish and a fun, bright feature colour. Nail buffer, cuticle nippers and a brush to clean up the sides are also great to keep in your kit.

For nail artists who are hoping to do session work for fashion week, what advice do you have for them? 

Build up your social media months before and seek out, and follow, key players in nail art on social media. A lot of them will post on their channels when they need help – so be sure to jump on that opportunity. Once backstage, be quick, confident and flexible whilst staying calm. And it doesn’t hurt to bring your own stool!

How can nail artists use social media to expand their audience/client base?

Utilising hashtags is a must for social media, especially Instagram. You also need to post often and constantly be aware of other trends so you can be the first to jump on any new ones. For example, the day Instagram changed its logo, I immediately created a nail look inspired by the logo. I was sure everyone would be doing it, but I was among the first. Everyone kept commenting on how fast I was to get them done.

How did you build your client list?

I was very lucky to have worked on the right photoshoots. Through those, I have met so many people who have been incredibly helpful in launching my platform. Word of mouth is mostly how I’ve built up my client list – and of course working with Revlon.

What’s the most challenging thing about being a nail artist? 

Being on set and being invisible but still helpful. Being a nail artist you are constantly in the way of the make-up artist and hair stylists so you need to learn how to work around them to do your job, without getting in the way of them doing theirs!

What nail shades do you think will be big for summer?

Neons are tons of fun but not everyone is willing to have bright colours on their nails for work. I like to start with a nude base (Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy in Up in Charms looks great on anyone) and either add a bright French tip or use a make-up sponge to create a gradient from nude to neon.

What’s your favourite design?

This is one I recently posted on Instagram. I love it because it’s such a mix and match!

Natalie Lukaitis