Monday, 15 December 2008

Don't Be Camera Shy part 2

Last month I touched on styling your photos and telling a story through your image. Selling your idea to the viewer is key to creating a great shot, but idea’s and styling alone won’t always be enough. Photography is a creative process in its self and we are using it to express our own art. Ultimately we need to invest in a professional photographer and studio time, to get the best shots we can, but there are some simple tricks you can start with to creating illusions and enhancing your subject with light and colour.

Using Colour to enhance your photo
Colours affect moods, and you can use it creatively in your images to add tension or relax the viewer. Colours will affect the emotional impact of your photos so be aware of what message you’re trying to convey, for example yellow is associated with happiness but orange can move us to sadness.
Warm up the image with a redder pallet, blues and greens are cooler. Red is also the universal colour of warning so use it with caution, small amounts in a photo can be very effective. To add tension and drama use contrasting colours like reds and greens or yellow and purples, alternatively using the shades of the same colour will give a sense of harmony.
Black and white can be used to create more atmospheric shots as they are more dependent on shape and form to create the interest. You can experiment with the high and low contrasts to increase the drama, adding more black or white changes the feel of your image.


Blue - peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, cleanliness, order, sky, water, cold, Peaceful, tranquil.

Black - power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, anonymity, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, anger, technical color.

Green - nature, environment, health, good luck, renewal, youth, vigor, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy and misfortune.

Purple - royalty, exotic, wealth spirituality, nobility, ceremony, mystery, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.

Red - with love, valentines, danger, desire, speed, strength, violence, anger, emergency, blood and excitement.

White - reverence, purity, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, birth, winter, snow, good, sterility, and marriage.

Brown- Solid, reliable, sad, wistful. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather.

Yellow - joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, betrayal.

Lighting and using your flash
Digital photography is easy when you have plenty of light and conditions are ideal. To avoid disappointing results it is wise to use the light available to us in each shot.
So what happens when we don’t have the natural light? Flash photography is a wonderful thing as it allows you to take photos in all manner of places adding artificial light, but there are advantages and disadvantages of doing this. The most common problems are the harsh shadows on or behind the subject produced by over exposure to unnatural light, the atmosphere and emotion of your shot is tainted and your digital image can flatten out. 99% of compact digital cameras come with a built in flash which lights the subject from the front therefore compressing the depth of the photo. You need to start watching how light falls on your surroundings and you will learn what works with a flash and what doesn’t.
Professionals generally have flashes which are detached from the camera on a hotshoe or flash bracket, they can position the flash in the correct place utilizing and benefiting from this function, however we are not professionals and just want to take a simple shot to show off our nails. Here are some top tips to making your flash work for you;

Get in close - the main limitations of the built in flash units is the power they use, external flash units have a dedicated power source giving you a bigger and brighter light, however the compact cameras share its flash power with the other components. If you’re going to use the flash get in really close and let the flash have an impact. This will also eliminate the additional shadow you will see, if you’re taking a picture from some distance turn the flash off and let the camera adjust its shutter speed to compensate for the light.
Diffusing the light – another limitation of the built in flash unit is the harsh results they produce, and the ambient scene is lost, this is because the light which is produced by the flash can’t be directed and it bounces off the surface of the subject. You can soften the light the flash produces by diffusing it. Using white card in front of the flash so that it bounces up or sideways, or placing a small amount of semi opaque sticky tape over the flash light which will softening it. Stuart Dibben from SJD photography says “ when I first started out I would use plastic take away boxes and make an elaborate diffuser with tissue and cellophane”.
Don’t just use the flash when it is dark, flash is great outdoors and can really lift the image, especially if your subject has strong backlight or harsh downlight. It will light up the shadowy areas.
Reflect the light – while the diffuser sits directly over your flash the reflector is usually some kind of white object (card paper or plastic) that will bounce your flash in order to spread the effects, making your flash light a little less direct. This
will go some ways to eliminate harsh light, shadows and help to soften the picture. Using something as obvious as a white t shirt will double the natural light.
Be aware that if you use anything with a colour the image will be tinged with that colour. Again this can work in your favor, for example gold will give a natural sunny effect.

Using Macro
While using your compact camera on the standard setting you can see much more detail by using the macro, this changes the focus of the camera and you will be able to take an image just a few inches away. Using the macro setting will improve your ability to see small details and virtually all digital cameras today have this setting which is usually denoted by a symbol of a flower. Taking a close up of an image is simple but light can be an issue. You can avoid casting shadow and restricting light by using the zoom. It is important also to keep the camera steady, as the slightest movement will show up on the shot. You can take some am1azing close ups with the help of some simple items you have at home. With a bit of ingenuity you can create some really professional looking photographs without spending a fortune on complicated equipment.

Geoff Brown from Blue Light Media tells me that “The secret to a good macro shot is lighting”. Although you can buy special macro photography kits you can also achieve superb results using two desk lamps. You need at least two for even illumination, causing minimum glare and shadow to your nails. Both lamps should have the same wattage and be positioned at equally on either side of the subject, make sure the lamps and your camera do not cast shadow over the area your shooting.
If the object you’re shooting is reflective, like shiny nails, jewels and gems stones, then angle the lamps so that they are low, around 30 degrees from the horizon, any higher could result in glare being reflected into the camera.
The trick about taking a good macro shot is choosing the right subject in the right environment. It is best if you keep it simple an uncluttered background won’t detract, or make it difficult for the camera to focus and expose the picture correctly. The macro setting maximizes your camera’s exposure control and helps ensure the image is captured with the right amount of light so that it doesn’t appear too dark, or light.

Now that you have the basic knowledge to achieve your photo’s in the right light, follow these simple exercises and send the images to for feedback. Stuart Dibbon from SJD Photography will also look at your images.
Set up your shot using the steps in last month’s tutorial and take 4 photo’s using the following methods to light up your nails.
Candle light
Day light
Desk light
Flash light
Watch how shadow effects your image, how the mood changes and how this effects the design of your shot.

EXERCISE 2 – Lighting

Using the method outlined above take a close up shot of one nail.EXERCISE 3 – Macro

Based on Sam Biddle’s photographic workshop this tutorial will help technicians who want to illustrate their designs and share them with others. The workshop offers an in-depth and practical solution to learning some simple techniques and skills, utilizing the expertise of Stuart Dibben from SJD Photography, Stuart is based in South West England. List of workshops are available on or contact Sam on

This two part master class was published in Scratch Magazine 2008

make your mark...

With a range of new styles and shapes of nails seen sporting the covers of the nail magazines of late, I ask my self, "is the divide between what the industry produce for them selves and the salon's churn out for their clients to great"?
Stilettos, lip stick, almond and square, each of these alone are amazing feats of engineering, getting the structure and shape perfect to show off your talent as a nail tech isn't an easy job. But do we afford the same care to our clients.

I can't imagine Mrs Mary Major (names have been changed) sporting long black stilettos while she chops the carrots and peels the potatoes, or Val White happy utilizing her lip stick tips to leaver the pull ring off a can of Diet coke. But still we as Techs still sport these extravagant talons in the hope that some die hard client will happily allow you to adorn her pinkies with multi coloured acrylic steeples.

Don't get me wrong, After spending 10 mins at the checkout at my local super market, I have been stopped no less than 4 times with gasps of delight as strangers grab my hands and stroke my fingers, 'wow how do you wear these' and 'aren't they amazing', has not only brought me 2 new appointments but made an impression no newspaper ad could.
So carry on wearing your talons and make your mark on the local community, it will only do your business good, but don't for one moment expect Mrs Pearce from number 3 to wear anything else but her pretty pink ovals.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

another sneak preview

I just can't wait to bring to you my new Design DVD next March, so as a little Christmas treat here is another sneak preview. I hope you enjoy! Sx

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

North East Roadshow - Update

Lying in bed with my eyes tight shut, I was trying to ignore the shrill alarm going off by my ear, telling me I have to get up....NOW! 5 O'clock on a Sunday morning is not meant to be seen! Slipping my legs out from under the duvet to test the temperature in the room, they didn't stay bare for long, oooooooh I must love what I do!
Jumping into the shower I spend the next 10 minutes recovering from the cold hike across the bedroom to the en-suite, standing there letting the hot water wash away the zzzzzzz, my brain started to wake up and I began to think about the day ahead. Vicki was going to arrive in 40 minutes to drive me up to Rotherham, some 4 hours away. I had to get a wriggle on!

Arriving at Hellaby Hall we were greeted with a large banner welcoming us, Jo Shirley from Red 10 had certainly thought of everything. The competitions had already started, but I still had time to grab a cuppa before I was needed to judge the fantasy category.The main event was to start at 1.00, and the room was decked with Christmas cheer. Beautifully done the chairs would soon be filled with the 100 invited guests, ready to listen and learn.

The competition had three categories, fantasy, pink and white judged by Jane Cook and Antony Buckley and encapsulation by Georgie Smedley. The entrants where amazing, I love to see all the ideas and creativity displayed in glorious acrylic colour. Judging was difficult though and a very close call with only 1 or 2 points separating 1, 2 and 3rd. Here is the run down all the competitors and how they placed.

Fantasy:1st - Laura Tagg, 2nd - Nichola Garland, 3rd - Catherine Taylor, 4th - Vikki Taylor-Dodds
Pink & White:1st - Lindsay Bland, 2nd - Natasha Hemingway, 3rd - Claire Woodcock, 4th - Saria Edwards, 5th - April Gibbs, 6th - Melissa Shovelton, 7th - Kate McCrossan, 8th - Carla Rogerson

Design:1st - Louise Huggard, 2nd - Rebecca Abernathy, 3rd - Michelle Brooks, 4th - Jane Pilkington

After lunch we were entertained with a warm up game, a fantastic idea to get everyone in the mood, then Antony wowed us all with yet another pink and white nail, showing how to get the perfect competition nail, we learnt some top tips and trade secrets. Jane Cook spoke a little about how to plan and prepare for a competition, Georgie Smedley was on hand to help out with the narrating, and did a lash be long demonstration at the end of the day. I was invited to show some of my fantasy work, which I brought along and Vicki Smith was on hand to talk about the classes available through Be inspired, she also explained how the nails had been made.

After the break it my turn to stand on stage and show everyone a design nail. I wanted to show an easy design nail which was 'different' but quick enough to utilize as a salon nail, helping to increase profit before Christmas. While I was 'playing' at home I couldn't find the colours I wanted, even with all the Ez flow range available to be, I was stumped. Then I remembered that originally Ez flow developed their powders so techs could mix and match But with the new powder collections being introduced so regularly. We forget that this option is available and means we can expand the range to cover the whole colour spectrum. I came up with two great recipes which I shared with the group and showed them a sparkly design nail utilizing gold leaf and a different way to achieve texture and depth to your design. I will post a step by step here later on in the month.

Finally it was time to come home; all in all I had a great time, and was pleased to be part of this event. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves on the day, and I look forward to the next one.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

North east Roadshow

I am going to Ez Flows annual North east roadshow this weekend, organized by Jo Shirley and Red 10. The event is held at Hellaby hall, Maltby, Rotherham on the 30th November and activities are expected to start at 9.00 with the competitions!

There will be some exciting special offers and guest speakers after lunch. Georgie Smedley will be demonstrating lash be long, Antony Buckley will be letting you into the secrets of competing, and wowing you with his winning competition nils.

I have the honour of demonstrating some Christmas design nails with a little 'fantastical twist'. Vicki Smith my right hand women will be on hand to chat with you about my DVD, books and up and coming dates for the 'inspire and photographic classes'.

There is so many more exciting things happening I can't wait!

For a little taster of what you have to look forward here is a picture of a Fantasy Christmas design, something I am working on at the moment, you can see it in more detail on the day!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Made in Malta

I have just returned from Malta, where I have been working with Sue Caruana, one of the leading technicians there, she is a distributor, educator and owns a salon in view of the beach. Based in Sliema, it was a joy to walk along the shores of the Mediterranean over lunch, the warm sun was a welcome change from the frosty weather threatening the UK shores. Working with the team at Beauty Inc was fantastic, they were very friendly with the typically warm and flamboyant attitude only found in that corner of the world. Having worked mostly with gel the girls got their mitts on some coloured acrylics, creating colour fades and design work, and then on Friday we had a Fantasy and Design inspire day were Technicians from all over Malta and the neighbouring island Gozo were invited. Expanding your knowledge goes a long way to improving your skills and building your business, in the UK we are used to this concept and it was nice to see that in Malta Nail techs think the same. The theme was roses, and working on a fantasy rose these gel techs tackled acrylic with gusto, producing some amazing flowers and leaves, working with product control and application technicians they learnt quickly. They needed to because after lunch we started on the more complex design application. Used to doing gel flowers I was very impressed with their abilities, each students got a pink rose for inspiration and had to decorate a nail file case. Finally the last demonstration pulled it all together, combining the design rose encapsulating it with a stiletto nail, with some 3D work.

At home I reflect on the different places I get to visit and meet the wonderful people behind the industry around the world. I enjoy learning from each visit and being inspired by drive and ambition to better and improve their businesses. I have made a new friend on this one and look forward to visiting her again soon.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Don't be Camera Shy part 1

Flicking through Scratch magazine my eyes feast on the assorted images plastered over the pages, delicate digits tipped with glittery gems, fruity colours shown off in glorious Technicolor all designed to inspire me.
Out of everything I do, from creating nails on my clients, demonstrating at shows, holding seminars and workshops worldwide the most satisfying is capturing my work on film, immortalizing my creations for thousands to view. But I am no photographer and like most I certainly didn’t know the difference between pixels and Dpi’s. But with a few basic rules and some easy steps to follow, compact in hand you too can take pictures to be proud of.
This two part tutorial will give you a glimpse of what you can achieve with your compact camera and some desk lamps. Covering styling and using props, getting the best from your camera with some lighting tricks and macro functions, using colour to create emotions and tension, plus the power of reflecting and diffusing light.

Styling your photos is a valuable tool which helps sell it to the viewers, makes them want more of what you’re offering. This will determine if your photo will be accepted by editors, to illustrate articles, newsletters and blogs, your images can become attention grabbing promotional shots, or win competitions, and become front covers.
Your image has to present a unique and cohesive presence to attract the interest of the viewer. In professional circles the stylist is the person who works closely with the photographer and art director helping to create an enhanced and thoughtful photo. But at the moment with compact in hand you are all of the above, and it makes styling your shot one of the most important roles. If you employ a photographer he or she will still require you as the client to style the photo shoot.

Step 1 - What does your image tell you?
Consider the subject and the story behind the image, what is the message you’re trying to convey? Why are you taking the shot? Is it to sell services to your clients, photograph competition material, following the criteria laid out in the rules, are you hoping it will be a consideration in the magazines? It is important to know what the reasons for taking the photo so here is a check list of things to remember;
What are you trying to say?
What are you selling?
What are the obvious qualities – colour, texture, shape, design, functions?
What are the hidden attributes – uses, interesting alternatives?
What is the social setting where these nails will be worn?
Were they created using a special process
Is it a natural process?

What inspired you to create the nails?
What is interesting about the subject?

Using this list will help you come up with a clear and concise idea of the message you’re trying to get across. Keeping an open mind while working through your list and consider some of the points to style your photo. Remember at all times your job is to open the viewers mind to the possibilities.
Step 2 - Setting up the shot
Gather props which enhance the subject, use your list to decide the story your trying to tell and gather ‘stuff’ to help you. I have a box full of bits and bobs collected over the years which I can dip in to. Start your treasure chest now, and fill it with leather bound books from second hand shops, multi colored ribbons and cloth no longer needed, interesting stones, shells and pieces of wood collected on walks. One of the best places to find unusual shaped vases and trinket boxes are the pound shops. There is a wealth of discarded tat which can become your savior in charity and jumble sales every where. Keep your eyes open and collect, because they become ideas and inspiration for your next photo.
Examples of props to convey a message;
Natural – muted colours, pine cones, soil, water, leaves, wood
Tools of the trade – powders, glitters, cuticle pushers, nail files, creams
Needle and threads, buttons and cloth
Paints and sketches, pencils and paper, ink and quills and books.
Food like sweets, fruit and chocolate
Step 3 - Taking the pictures
Set up your shot using only one or two props, position the hands on a plain background to show them off at their best; don’t clutter the image with unnecessary additional colours. When taking your photo’s force yourself to study the area around the hands and nails checking for shadows, make sure the position of the hands are flattering and not ridged, and more importantly nothing is obscuring or distracting your eye away from the nails. Your looking to see if the props and back drop bring out the best so be self critical and direct yourself looking at different angles and positions. Move the props around, take some away or add some more. You can change the focus of the image by moving the angle of the camera and lighting. This process may take some time, and a lot of clicks of the camera, but be patience you will know when you have that perfect shot. sometimes I come away with an image that took only 10 minutes, but then there are others that have taken 2 or 3 hours before I am happy with the final shot. The most important thing to remember when styling your own shot is to be free, don’t fixate on one idea, playing is the key to learning and developing.

Points to remember

1 After making the decision to create an image you need to decide what you’re going to photograph, develop your idea and create a story for your image; it will make it easier when you’re styling the shot.
2 Manipulate lighting, add texture and vary location or completely new looks to your imagery.
3 The simplest styling can really give flair and drama to your shot, even humor can go a long way to expressing the image.
4 If you’re using the photos to advertise your salon it is import to create a consistent and inviting look, keep the styling similar and use it to express your passion for your craft.
5 Finding the model and time, this is not a quick process and can be demanding on the model. I normally set aside one day to take two shots. Spend time in the morning to apply the nails the afternoon is free to take the photos and style the shot.
6 Touch ups, unfortunately this is also important and can make or break an image. There are many programs available alternatively there are photographers and graphic designers who will do this for you, touching out the back ground, air brushing the blemishes and making the image saleable.

Show off your passion, share with others your skills and develop your portfolio through photo’s. Next month we will be looking at your camera and how you can get the best from it and why colour is so important.
Follow this simple exercise and send your images to for feedback.
Using the following three items as props, style a photo of nails, remember your going to tell a story with your image, do not detract from the nails and sell your designs…..without words.
Props to use –
1. Book or books,
2. Candle or candles,
3. Reading glasses.
You don’t need to use all the props in your photo.

Based on Sam Biddle’s photographic workshop this tutorial will help technicians who want to illustrate their designs and share them with others. The workshop offers an in-depth and practical solution to learning some simple techniques and skills, utilizing the expertise of Stuart Dibben from SJD Photography, List of workshops are available on or contact Sam on

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I have now recovered from my vodka induced trip to Latvia, having sifted through the piles of do lists on my desk and filed them in their usual place, I can now spend a little time sharing with you my experience in the Baltic's.

Having been invited for the second time now, I love working with Oniks Beta, which one of the largest distributors in Latvia, stocking a range of products from OPI, Super nail, Odessay, as well as natural nail care, they also have an extensive training programme which provides government led training and private tuition. Elena Tarlavskaya, one of the most influential women within the industry in her country and has not only been responsible for building this amazing business but has also been instrumental for the structured and organized the competition in Latvia.

I was asked to judge, demo and hold a seminars out there, and of course the best part was seeing all those talented technicians spin their creative idea's onto nails using paints and acrylic. Mastering the medium in Fantasy 3D and nail art and coming up with some spectacular results. The judging is of course a glamours affair, with a parade of models on a catwalk,music, lights and interviews.

I have to say my favorite didn't come first place but all the nails were spectacular. I will never make a Simon Cowle, I think perhaps I am too soft, knowing the amount of thought and effort which goes into each set of nails, I appriciate the skills regardless of how complex or limited. What I enjoy seeing is the passion these girls have and the 'peace they acheive when they are lost in their 'creative moment'. With each nail supporting the subject Autumn pearls, the competitior had the task of making them stand out, what strikes me is differnt to the UK & US competitions is that the models where given simmilar costumes to wear, and it was the nails which had to represent the catagory. I think I would prefer to see an overall look created by the technicians to complete their design, from hair, makeup to a funky costume, incluing a mood board and steps, for us to see a creative process.

This year there was a new category in the competition; pedicure, and I was honoured to be asked to judge.
It was an amazing experience and something which I will write
about in more depth for Scratch magazine in January.
Demoing on the stand is always a good experience and made better with the company of Danny Phung from O.P.I, global guest artist from Canada, Danny was also asked to judge the Pink and white category. Working with other guest artists from around the world is certainly a perk of the job, and learning from each other can only go to strengthen skills.

My only regret is that I couldn't stay longer, the people are very hospitably and I enjoy their company, with a visit booked in the diary for 2009, I have some exciting things to offer them in the new year.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

It has been a busy couple of weeks, but one of the highlights was my mini road trip around the Cornish and Devonshire Colleges. Ez Flow Nail Systems new distributor Anna Curtis invited me along on round robin of some of the best colleges in the South West.

With only 2 hours at each venue, we were able to show these new technicians some amazing products and fantastic un-seen techniques. We visited Truo college, and then zoomed off to St Austel's with only 10 mins to spare, after a quick Big Mac in the car we hiked up the motorway to Plymouth city college.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the College tutors for inviting us and making us feel so very welcome.
The main comments from all the students was 'how new' design and colour is, or 'seeing something fresh and exciting' where before the south west has been forgotten. Out on the fringes of the nail industry our new generation tech does not realize the potential of there own chosen career, and for me it was exciting to talk to them and show them what can be achieved.

Of all the things I do, demoing in different lands, developing workshops to get the best out of you and even writing on the blog and in the magazines, visiting the colleges is the most rewarding, because I know if one one of those many many women are inspired enough they can go on to make some fantastic waves of change in the future.
If you would like more infomation about Ez Flow in the South then plese contact Anna on;, or telephone her on 07983025157.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Preview of new design DVD

Here it is a sneaky peak of my New DVD. Jam packed full of both acrylic and Gel design steps, this DVD will be released in March 2009.

But for you I wanted to show a little something, because I just can't wait. The amazing front cover on Scratch this month - Dangerous Liaisons, a gel design utilizing the now all too popular stilletto is just one of the exciting nails featured.

If you can't wait to find out how to create this look you can always download the step by steps on my download page at

Sunday, 5 October 2008

be inspired...worldwide.

With 60% of my website traffic coming from overseas, I thought I would post alittle something about the up and coming roadshow dates in Latvia, Malta, Sweden, Greece & USA. It is a great thing when I see my little map on my Stat's page, full of yellow dots, every week I see more popping up world wide. I love receiving emails from talented techs in far flung places like Cape Town and New Zealand, my inbox is full of questions and examples of work from Japan and New Dehli. Feeling very privilidged to have so many people from all over the world in my little virtual address book I thought it would be great to let you know about some up and coming dates I have in the planning stages at the moment;

I will attending the Hair, Nails and Beauty show in Latvia, where I will be demoing on the Oniks Beta stand and have a 2 hour fantasy seminar booked, so please come and visit me on the 31st October to 2nd November. To book your place on my seminar contact Julia on

Fantasy inspire class - 21st November in Malta, for more information on this unique class contact Sue Caruana at Beauty Inc on 21381275, her mobile is 9944 2860, alternativly you can email Sue for your info pack on

I have the pleasure of working with Iryna's Nails in Sweden, where I will be holding a 3 day Inspire workshop next year in May. For more information contact Bob Giblett on P: +46 706 324228 or Email him on Check out Iryna's work on

With a huge interest from Greek techs, I am collecting names and emails, so if you want me to secure a date for 2009, please email me on

The USA is such a huge country with a wealth of talented techs, and deciding on the best place to host an event is difficult, I am calling out for all techs who haven't yet registered your interest in this road show please mail me on

If you would like more infomation on these events or those held in the UK, you can visit my website on, the events page has a list of UK dates in London, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Birmingham and Cornwall, as well as a list of Ez Flow classes.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Creative Thinking

Once you have learned the craft of nails and earning a living, should you continue to develop yourself and your skills to create some truly amazing work?” Working on bettering yourself and your skills is the first step to being a successful technician, start today with these six simple steps.

Step 1 - Nail Technicians are Creative People!
The next time you think "I can never come up with good ideas," remember this; there is a countless number of useful ideas and innovative thoughts in all of us. You are brilliant, yes this is a fact and it is your life that makes you brilliant. Your life is unique, full of obstacles and inspiration. Take some time to remember every situation you have encountered, every problem you have faced, and the countless solutions and creative ways you have come up with to solve them. However creativity is not only about finding solutions to problems or thinking up different ways to do things.

Step 2 - Look at things in a new perspective
I use problem solving as an example to help you realize that creative thinking requires us to look at things from new perspectives.
We all have some level of creativity within us and you can teach yourself to be more creative. Using this creativity in your work, to improve our business and enjoy the freedom it brings.
Step 3 -Positive thinking
Creativity is a state of mind. Telling yourself or others "I'm not very creative," or "I can never come up with new or clever ideas," destroys that state of mind. Creative thinking requires positive thinking. Don’t mistake creativity with artistic licence, these two things are very different, and you don’t need to be artistic to be creative. Remember, it is about looking at things with a new perspective and find a solution to a particular problem. If we look at designing nails, it is not about finding a design; we use ‘inspiration’ for that, but more about interpretation the design and finding a creative way to dilute it and use it.
Step 4 -Inspiration is critical to creative thought. Without sudden flashes of inspiration, we might never arrive at creative solutions to difficult problems. Without the fresh insight that intuition grants us, we might never see the bigger picture.What we see, hear, feel, taste, and touch -- influence our state of mind. A positive atmosphere contributes to a positive and creative state of mind. Surround yourself with inspirational props, use magazines, junk mail, cereal boxes, wrapping paper and birthday cards to name a few to generate ideas. Besides what we see or hear, the scents, textures, and tastes experienced during our creative thinking time contribute to our creativity. Collecting whatever materials inspire you and give you ideas is a step towards finding a creative solution.
You need to store these ideas, and the brain is not the place to do it, image it is a huge filing system, if you’re actively trying to retrieve stored inspirational memories with you’re not able to come up with new ideas. Whether it's a folder, a notebook, or an entire file cabinet, keep clippings, thumbnail sketches, junk mail, photos, and anything else that inspires you or gives you ideas. Don't just file it and forget it - go through the file get in the habit of making notes, outlines, sketches, or doodles. Jot down or record all your thoughts, no matter how bizarre or where ever you are, some of your best ideas come just before falling asleep. Keep a notebook at your bedside, in your hand bag, even in the loo so you will always be ready to write down ideas.
Step 5 -Have a goal
While positive thinking allows your mind to accept new ideas and creative thoughts, using an effective thinking method can help direct your thoughts toward specific goals. Daydreaming, relaxation, and free association allow the mind to come up with new or unusual ideas or idea fragments. Having a goal for your creative thinking will prevent those random thoughts and ideas which may not be particularly useful.
In my first class I talk about the five steps to develop your design, and how important it is to decide your topic, find a subject which you want to recreate, for example ‘seaside’, ‘wedding flowers’ or ‘hot tropics’. Once you have your title you can find inspirational images to support it, and develop your creative solution. Working more effectively will prevent your mind running away with unrelated thoughts.
Step 6 -Practise & Discipline
Science has speculated that we are using 10% of our brain capacity and expanding your brain and mind will accelerate your creative potential. Everyone has natural creative talent and this can be enhanced by stimulating the mind.
Your sensory input gets stored in memory. By giving your mind fresh inputs each day, your memories get triggered and combined with the new input. Sometimes you will get ideas or gain new perspectives. Creativity takes practice. Your creativity is there within you, but you must make a habit of using it. Through imagination and creativity, using what we think and how we think to determine our quality of life is a powerful tool, and as Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Sir Francis Bacon is famous for saying “knowledge is power”?
Every thought we have is a creative thought. The question isn't whether we are creative or not. The question is whether we are aware of our powers of creativity and are able to expand and use them purposefully.

Nails & Styling by Sam Biddle; Photography - Stuart Dibben; Models - Vicki Smith & Jorden Biddle
This article was published in Scratch magazine September 2008

Monday, 8 September 2008

Nail Professional of the Year 2008

Wow what an amazing evening, all the excitement and tension in one room filled with sparkling dresses and Dicky bows. As I look around the room I am amazing at the amount of people who have come together on this special evening to recognize and honour the best the industry have to offer.

The walls twinkle as tiny fairy lights blink in tune to the pumping music and each of the finalists are reviewed with a summery of not more than 30 words! Then the winner is called out to a resounding applause. Cheers from the various groups remind us of the support offered in a room full of strangers...we all feel the same, the tension builds as the categories are crossed off one by one. Then it is here Nail professional of the year, John is squeezing my hand, Victoria has her eyes closed and Mum winks at me..... I am not sure why I did this now, and I really don't want to find out who will receive this title any more.

Claire Durtnall - Holland from East Bourne, East Sussex, walks up to the stage to receive her trophy, and I am really thrilled for her I know how she must be feeling... well done Claire. I am so honoured to be one of those finalists and I know how those other 6 women are feeling within their groups of friends and supporters, I also know that this has happened to us all for a reason, we are brought to this place to learn and grow and the next time we enter and win we will appreciate it so much more.

If I am honest I am disappointed but I am also very very proud to have been invited and been part of a great evening. I have enjoyed the company of some amazing achievers and have taken this experience as a resounding success. I want to thank my gorgeous husband and amazing mother for being there and Victoria Smith and Andrew for supporting me all the way, you will never know how much that meant Vic. Amber Gibbons, Jane Cook, John Hardwick and the team from Grafton's arrived within mins of the awards being over to is nice to see the support that we some times take for granted, and realize that the people around us are there guiding us on each step of our journey. For the many emails and text messages from everyone wishing me well......I am also very very grateful.

So do I put my self through all this again, do I continue competing in this arena......? You tell me.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Nail Professional of the Year 2008

The Brit Beauty awards are tonight and I am sat here waiting to leave for London. I have to keep asking my self if I am nervous....I feel calm and collected but as each second disappears and brings 7.00 closer, I recognize the same old churning in my stomach, like the washing machine tumbling the wet clothes in the kitchen, my stomach is spinning my nerves.

Should I be nervous? John seems to think I am always a winner in his biased supportive way, my mother smiles and tells me that what ever happens it is meant to be and I will learn and grow either way, and my kids just wish me good luck as they ride out the driveway to play with their friends. Don't they know how much self doubt I have to battle with.

I know I seems confident I have entered so many competitions and each time feel completely at ease having nothing to loose. Today should be no different it is not the end of all things, but if I am honest with myself it would be nice to be NAIL PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR!

The competition is amazing and there is some grate candidates, so I feel proud and honoured to be up against them. I would like to say to anyone else who is sitting waiting for a judgement of sorts I wish you love and light....and luck!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

It not just about Nails...

CLOSE your eyes and remember the feel of cool grass caressing yours soles, or sinking your feet into a luxurious thick carpet. Think about the times you used your toes to turn on the hot tap in the bath, or tip toed around your children’s bedroom on Christmas Eve. When was the last time you let your foot find the cool spot at the end of the bed? How can we enjoy these things and not look after our feet?

Become enlightened to the wonders of your feet, and to realize just why you should appreciate these truly remarkable creations.

Pity your poor feet and all the pressures and stresses they face every day. Attention to your toes will bring better and longer-lasting benefits, to body and mind. Like most people, feet are neglected and yet they deserve as much attention as you pay to the rest of your body. Feet that don't function correctly affect your body's delicate balance. They upset the alignment and function of the knees, hips, spines and shoulders, causing backache and poor posture. Over time this can lead to fatigue and irritability. The feet are a sophisticated and delicate part of our body, containing a total of 52 bones, 66 joints, 38 muscles and 214 ligaments all working in harmony to provide movement and stability. Although seemingly fragile our feet are inherently robust and resilient. Made up of a delicate arrangement of nerves, blood vessels, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, with each part of the foot working in synchronised perfection

It is well known that the foot reflects the physical attributes of the body. But did you know that it could also show personality characteristics and individual needs, reflecting on the potential for self-development. For example, Hard skin can show how we are trying to protect our emotions. Shapes, lines, and colour speak to us about our soul. Feet can also take part in some of our most positive experiences you can’t help but love them for that.

It is never too late to start. From an early age my mother told me that if I look after my feet then they will look after me. A Relexologist for 13 Years, Marja Brown says’ Making an effort to take care of our most used, but undervalued part of our body will help vitality, improve ill health, and maintain stamina and vigour’.

There are many different ways to keep your feet looking good and feeling great.

Let your feet help you walk tall today!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Inspire Class Preview

I thought you might like to see this short video on what you can expect when attending one of my workshops. I would like to extend my thanks to all those on the class and Geoff Brown from Blue light productions. If you would like more info on this video please email me or Vicki on

Thursday, 7 August 2008

First day on the job....

Hi all,
A quick introduction as to who I am and what I do. My name is Vicki Smith and I currently have the ultimate pleasure of being Sam's PA (or slave, whichever is apt for the moment!) I work as a Bricklaying Instructor at a local Prison, but due to breaking my foot last year, I have trained as an Ez Flow Tech through Sam.

So, what am I doing on here you ask? Well, I have exclusive access behind the scenes and will be posting regularly on here to give you all the gossip that Sam tries to keep secret! I can unveil the tricks, the up coming events and the well hidden aspects to Sam's creations (an internet spy with permission so to speak!!)

I also post to (username - madkira), where I have complete control of what I can write about Sam, as she has to wait to read it herself, so I can get away with being a little cheeky!!

So , If you have any questions about the Master Artist that you have always been too shy to ask yourself, let me know and I will try my hardest to dig out the answers!!
You can e-mail me with your questions or suggestions at and title the message vicki.

Vix x x x

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Inspire workshop fully booked

The Inspire fantasy workshop in Birmingham on the 8th September is now full, we will be putting on an additional date in this area due to the demand on the 22nd September, if you would like to attend, please book now! There is only 10 places per class.

I will also be visiting London on the 10th September, if you would like to book your place on this workshop, you can email me on

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Be Inspired......

We had a great day at the recent 'inspired' workshop in Fareham last Sunday, and I thought I would post some pictures of the beautifully talented ladies and their work.

Kick starting the day with a demonstration the girls got their hands on their acrylic and produced some fantastic flowers. Utilizing a simple fantasy technique shown in the Demo, they can now dilute it and produce some amazing design nails.

Vanessa is just adding the finishing touches to her first master piece. Vanessa says....

" I found a big difference in product control and gained in confidence, I did think it would be hard to do the 3D flower Sam showed us, but it was easier than I thought, Sam is easy going and doesn't tell you if you make
a mistake only if you need some direction."

We filmed the class in full, as I am working with Blue Light productions to create some new DVD's and mini workshops which will be available in the Autumn, of course we nail techs are not afraid of the lime light, and here Della, Karen and Anna are all super stars...might be the Cornish air! Anna Curtis says......

" this class does help with product control but also how to focus on one idea and develop it properly. It opens your mind to new ideas and gives me confidence in my own abilities, the only negative thing I can say about my experience is that I didn't have Sam to my self."

During the class everyone gets a one to one with me, and we go over how you can improve your techniques. During the afternoon session, your creative juices are unleashed and this is where extra techniques and skills are shown on a one to one. Here I am working with Katy Woods to create something romantic.

Pat Dennis was lost in the creative process, developing her Mood Board, sticking and cutting, she makes an amazing desert island, with palm trees and hammocks.

Amanda Carey disappeared for a while and we all wondered where she had gone...finding her crouched under the table I did wonder if the day had got to much..... "I need more room!" she cried. Here she worked on the best mood board I have seen yet full of texture and colour, she made a mermaid splashing in the sea.

The star of the day though was Wendy Thornburn, having never touched acrylic before she stunned us all with her creativity. Producing some amazing work, this flower goes to show anyone can do it. Here is what she had to sayabout her experience.....

" I had no product knowledge before hand and had never used acrylic, Sam made the instructions clear and concise making me feel confident and capable of producing something I am quite proud of. I found this class useful because I learnt how to use my creativity in a different way and using the moods board helps me consolidate my ideas. This class is ideal for anyone whether they did nails or not. Sam is great at inspiring others and what she says makes alot of sense, helping you think of thing in a whole new way, her approach to teaching is brilliant....very interesting!"

It was a great day, and we all achieved alot, the next 'Inspire' class is on the 8th Sept in Tamworth, and then I will be in London on the 10th for more info on the classes or to find out when the roadshow is coming to your area, visit my website