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Nail Artist, Kieu Bui of Primp + Polish talks talent, trends and treatments. If you’re into intricate designs, personalized pictures and treating your nails like a mini gallery, you can trust your fingers are in good hands. 

SHK: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?

KIEU BUI: My ethnic background is Vietnamese. I was born in Brooklyn, New York.

WHAT MADE YOU BECOME A NAIL ARTIST? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE GAME?

Originally I wanted to do Fashion Designing at Fashion Institute of Technology, but it was extremely competitive so I deduced to put my art skills into something that I kind of grew up doing, which is nails. I’ve been doing nail art for more than eight years.

IS NAIL ARTISTRY SOMETHING THAT REQUIRES STUDYING AND TRAINING? 

Nail artistry requires a good amount of things. For instance, you need to have creativity, good observation skills, a knowledge of what is able to be put on nails and what’s not and what kind of paint to use. I train myself on what to do by doing nail art on myself. If I use gems or stones I’ll test out how long it will last if I use glue or gel. Sometimes I’ll search for other nail art tutorial and learn from that if I can’t figure it out.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MASTER A DESIGN?

If you know how to draw it shouldn’t take that long to know how to draw on nails, you would need to learn how to use the nail art tools, which are sometimes so tiny compared to large paint brushes used on canvas, this would take about a month. Now, if the person doesn’t have a drawing skill, they need to learn how to draw first on paper sometimes to understand the concept of drawing, this might be from four months and on depending on the person.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO ON NAILS?

My favorite things to do on nails are patterns, adding rhinestones and sometimes redrawing some of the famous arts if possible, like Andy Warhol’s pop art and Marilyn Monroe. 

WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST REQUEST YOU’VE GOTTEN?

The craziest nail art… One time a customer came in requesting lace fabric on her nails, I wouldn’t say it was that crazy but it was definitely the hardest I’ve ever done because her nails were so tiny and the fabric was too big and it was hard to get the exact lace part that she wanted. It took me nearly three hours! My most memorable was when I did a splatter art design with bright neon flowers, because it was pretty but extremely messy! I had to cover the customer’s clothes and face so the paint don’t splatter all over her.

WHO IS THE COOLEST OR MOST INTERESTING PERSON’S NAILS YOU’VE EVER DONE?

Her name was Mary; she wanted LCN nails with gold glitter gradation with snowflakes and gems on for Christmas. It came out looking like Champaign nails very much for holiday nails.

WHAT ARE SOME UPCOMING NAIL TRENDS WE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?

I see a lot of nails with metal studs lately. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the new trend.

WHAT ARE THE BEST TYPES OF NAIL POLISHES TO USE? DO THE BRANDS REALLY MATTERS?

The brand of nail polishes does matter, some just last longer than others… My favorite is OPI, I found a trick to make it last even longer, which is to not apply a topcoat. The shine doesn’t really matter to me as much as long as it lasts but that only applies to OPI polish. 

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST NAIL “MYTH”? 

The biggest nail myth would be gel polish making your nail bed thinner! Gel does not make it thinner, over buffing the nail beds or peeling the gel off is the real reason it makes the nail bed thinner. If you just soak them in polish remover for a good 15-20 minutes it should be good.

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU HAVE FOR THOSE WHO LIKE TO DO IT THEMSELVES? 

My advice is to practice, practice, practice! And maybe some nail art You Tubing!

HOW DO WE MAINTAIN A MANICURE?

My suggestion is to always moisturize your cuticle with cuticle lotion or oil. It’s good for your cuticles as well as your nails. 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD COSTUMER?What makes a good customer is being patience until the job is done, if they are unsure about the tech; have them finish drawing on one nail first.

 WHAT ARE SOME PET PEEVES YOU HAVE ABOUT COSTUMERS? 

My pet peeve with customer is that if they are running late and not give me a heads up, that pushes other customer that are booked after them later. But in general my pet peeve in life is latest.

WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION? 

I get inspirations from Rihanna’s nails, she has wicked nails!

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YOU’RE TRYING TO FALL ASLEEP, WHAT’S THE LAST THING YOU REMEMBER SEEING?

Before bed that last thing I see is whatever is on Netflix that I’m watching to relax my mind, normally it’s “How I Met Your Mother.” I like comedies.

 

SEE. Hangover I, it’s funny.

HEAR. Anything Whitney Houston.

KNOW. Brazilian Jujitsu.

 

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