So-called “glam” is a vital element of the fashion industry, which is intrinsic to the beautiful runways and carefully curated looks that populate our screens. Whilst glam services are traditionally paid for, with the rise of social media there is a developing custom that glam artists will happily work in exchange for internet exposure, particularly when it comes to celebrity and influencer appointments. Instagram’s visibility undeniably boosts small creatives’ publicity, but, forgotten tags and repeatedly being uncredited means these independent artists often don’t reap the expected rewards. And, in particular, it seems that the nail technicians are the ones constantly erased from the picture….
The nail industry is arguably the beauty element most analogous to typical artwork. What’s more, the breadth of intricate designs, new styles, and innovation in products has been somewhat endless over the last 15 years. Despite this, nail technicians don’t seem to be gifted anywhere near the same status as other professionals in this industry. Speaking with Birmingham-based Nail Technician Anthony Lloyd (@nailsanthonys), it is apparent that this has been a long-standing battle that endlessly confuses creatives in this space.
“The disparity in the way nail technicians are viewed in comparison to other artists in the space is staggering. Not only is our work often not showcased in the same way, I have even heard stories of nail technicians on film sets not being given lunch vouchers like those supplied for hairstylists and MUAs. There is a general attitude that “it is just nails”, our work is viewed as insignificant”
Anthony has created extravagant gem-stoned nails for drag artists including Black Peppa, as well as his iconic Cher inspired set that won him the champion title for Battle of The Nail Techs 2022. His work is an art form that requires an aesthetic vision, and a honed skill to bring it to life. And yet, Anthony, alongside many others in the field, believe their work is downplayed, and at times, ignored.
In our conversation, it became clear there is a fundamental lack of credit given to the beauty industry as a whole for their role within photoshoots, runways, or editorial campaigns. Secondly, it seems this phenomenon is more drastic for nail artists. Anthony explained to us how not every nail design needs to be ostentatious to warrant applause and appreciation. Like with fashion, there is an elegance and craft in delicate design that compliments an ensemble harmoniously. Whilst many can see how a red lip elevates a model’s look, people aren’t as quick to say the same of a beautifully executed French manicure.
“Even if all the models on a runway have matching simplistic nude nails, someone has made that artistic decision, and someone has laboriously sat there working to complete the final touches. And yet, sadly, their work is often uncredited or unnoticed”
For each and every look we see on the runway, there is a chain of people, ideas, products, and creativity behind the scenes. The fashion industry has exploded exponentially to be more than just clothes, but the benefits and rewards received by the people behind the glitzy images, hasn’t grown in quite the same way. It seems interesting that whilst a large proportion of society pay to have their nails done every month of the year, there is not the same recognition for leading nail care brands or artists like there is with MUAs and hairstylists. People know of haircare brands such as Balmain, Olaplex or Oribe, or may have heard of celebrity stylists such as Jen Atkin or Chris McMillan who boast millions of followers on Instagram, and have styled bouncy blowdrys worldwide from The Kardashians to Courtney Cox. Meanwhile, huge nail care product lines aren’t as commonly known, and the leading innovators in the industry don’t have the same social connections and influence. This seems strikingly odd when it is a service that just as many people rely on as part of their self-care routines, and results in the nail industry being less financially successful than perhaps it should be. There will always be an interplay between fashion and beauty, and nail technicians will always be a vital element of the beauty industry, but perhaps as a society we need to spotlight the creatives behind the scenes that have typically and historically been forgotten about.
In a bid to right this imbalance, GLITCH is spotlighting some of Anthony’s work, alongside some of his favourite product ranges, and some other key players in the creative nail space. In our conversation, he spotlighted some educators and nail techs who are the biggest inspirations to him, including @lisa_nailedit, @ohmynaillss and @jessicalwilkinson. He also wanted to highlight the impact that @polishpad, the first ever full online nail-only booking system, has had on his business and the industry in general, in helping to foreground independent creatives and facilitate them in expanding their clientele.
by Hebe Street from GLITCH Magazine