Meet Seychelles’ young, local artists: | 17 October 2020
A contemporary technician, free-handedly creating unique & crazy nail art designs
In the following interview, we learn more about Allison Etienne, 28, a certified nail technician who is exploring her love for art by recreating and painting pictures onto her clients’ finger and toe nails.
Seychelles NATION:Tell us about your background in art and about Gloss Studio.
Allison Etienne: My background isn’t specifically in nail art but rather art in general. I have always been into design and was able to explore more of that at the University of the Arts in London where I got my degree in graphic communications.
When I moved back to Seychelles, I focused on that as my career. In March this year I took a trip to the UK where I was stuck for just over 4 months as a result of the global pandemic. While there, my work situation changed completely and it was during this time that Gloss Studio was essentially created.
I did a lot of research before deciding what brand I wanted to work with. I found that ‘The Gel Bottle’ was the best fit for what I had in mind, so I enrolled myself in their academy to officially train as a nail technician.
The training was a 5-day course but it was intense and packed with all the techniques/information we would need to open our own nail business. Going in I had no idea what to expect but once the learning process begun and I started getting comfortable, I realised I was really enjoying myself. Everything just felt really natural so I knew it was the right decision.
When creating Gloss Studio, I wanted something fun and contemporary so I decided to stay away from the traditional nail salon style and go for a studio vibe instead. I wanted to build something that would make people feel comfortable to really go for their crazy or unusual nail art ideas. I thought about everything I would want as a client and worked from that viewpoint to set up the business. My brand reflects my personality and everything, from the logo to the colours to the font, was either chosen or designed by me.
Seychelles NATION: What inspired you to try out nail art?
Allison Etienne: I had been following a lot of nail pages on Instagram for a while and seeing the amazing work that some of these nail technicians were doing really inspired me to give it a try. Being in lockdown and completely bored was also a big motivator. At this time, a lot of the accounts that I followed were doing live online classes where you could learn all the little nail art tips and tricks, and after taking a few for fun I found that I was really interested in seeing how far I could push my artistic skills in this particular medium.
Seychelles NATION: Can you tell us about the type of nail art that you practice and how it differs from other forms of art?
Allison Etienne: The main difference between nail art and other forms of art like drawing/painting on paper I would say, is the size of the area you have to work with. Nail beds are like tiny little canvases so you're somewhat restricted on what you can realistically put on there without it becoming cluttered.
The nail art I do is mostly free hand. The client usually sends their inspiration pictures or designs and then I try to recreate it as close to the original as I can.
It's a form of art because you’re pouring all your creativity and talent into each design. There’s a number of factors to think about such as colour combinations and object placements, just as you would if painting a portrait or designing a poster.
What I like most about free hand art is that even if you’re repeating a design or concept multiple times, no two will ever look exactly the same. There will always be something that’s completely unique to that particular set.
Seychelles NATION: What do you require to successfully practice this type of nail art?
Allison Etienne: The most important thing I personally think you need is patience. Some designs can be tricky and you end up having to wipe off and start again several times, which can be frustrating, but with patience you’re able to get there in the end.
Creativity is another key component as some clients will be more than happy to let you go wild and choose for them so you need to be able to think quickly about what you want to design.
In terms of equipment I have an essentials kit that I bring to every session which consists of my paint palette (to mix the colours on), a selection of paintbrushes in a range of different sizes, gel colours and an LED/UV lamp. I did go a little crazy when buying nail art products as I didn’t want to be restricted in what I was able to do so I also have a tonne of extras such as inks, neon pigments, chromes, foils, stars, glitters etc.
Seychelles NATION: How do you feel when painting and designing your clients’ nails?
Allison Etienne: Before each appointment I get excited when I receive the inspiration pictures, especially if it’s something I’ve been dying to try out. I find it mostly relaxing but I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes and tend to stress myself out a little during the actual appointment, especially if it's not going how I envisioned. Once it’s done though and you see that the client is happy with the final result, you feel proud that you were able to pull it off and make them feel good. It’s quite a rewarding profession in the sense that making someone happy then makes you happy in return.
Seychelles NATION: What ways do you look to progress with this type of art form?
Allison Etienne: The beauty industry is constantly changing so there will always be something new for me to learn. I have a lot of ideas on the direction I want to take my work but I’ve still got a long way to go to reach the level I want to be on. It’s going to take years to really develop my skills, but as long as I keep focused and in my own lane, it will be worth it in the end.
(The accompanying photos show some of Allison’s creations).
Photo sources: Allison Etienne