Sarah Fontaine is a nail pro from British Columbia, Canada, and one of the 21 shortlisted applicants in The World’s Star Nail Artist competition 2023. Get to know her, below…

What’s your background in nails?

Nail art and I go way back! I have been a nail lover all my life and spent much of my time as a teenager playing with nail polish or attempting to sculpt my own nails with pharmacy acrylic kits. I qualified as a nail tech in 2013 after my husband suggested it could make a good hobby for me or even possibly be a career change (I had previously worked as a care aide). I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to train in something I have a passion for, and to work from my home salon to be available for my children.

What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

This really is the highlight of my career so far! I live in a small town and haven’t had many opportunities to shine in the nail world. My name is known in town according to some as “the best” and I take pride in that, though of course it’s all a matter of opinion. This is my first competition and I entered hoping if I didn’t make it through, the magazine might share some note worthy entries on Instagram which could direct traffic to my profile. I never assumed I’d be selected.

What are your career goals and aspirations?

I love my career and I want to stay working for the women in my community, continuing to make them feel their best. I’d like to add teaching to my repertoire, helping others who have a passion for working in the nail industry succeed. I dream to be a recognised nail artist and have trophies to display in my salon.

What kind of nail artist are you?

I pride myself on the fact that I attempt any design my clients request. With nail inspiration from all over the world at their fingertips it’s sometimes stressful, my clients have faith I can recreate anything! I appreciate that I can work with watercolours at one appointment, be encapsulating shells and glitter the next, and then move on to something completely different. My greatest love, however, is gel painting and it’s what I concentrate on when building my skills outside of work. I get a thrill trying to fit minuscule details onto such a tiny canvas.

What do you love about working in the nail industry?

I’m amazed at how the nail industry is always progressing, with new trends, products and processes. It’s changed a lot over the last 10 years and there is always something new to learn or to purchase to create with. As an artist it’s what feeds my soul…and empties my bank account! I want it all.

How did you feel to be shortlisted in The World’s Star Nail Artist competition?

I had small hopes of making it so I was completely shocked! After seeing the first few entries and the level of hand painted and 3D craftsmanship, I thought there was no way I’d be chosen. I was starting to feel a tad relieved I wouldn’t have to compete against such talented individuals. Then I saw my picture and the tiny nail I painted and was so excited and proud, but terrified.

How did you find the preliminary challenge?

The preliminary challenge was tough! Having zero previous competition experience I didn’t know quite what to expect. We went from one designed nail to five, with a tricky brief that was oddly specific and yet vague. And a video diary! My insecurities were surfacing. I questioned friends and family what they thought it meant, googled metaverse, searched AI artwork images and contemplated letting AI tell me what to create. In the end, with the deadline looming I had to trust my gut and run with the idea in my head.

What is this competition doing for your profile and skillset?

I have struggled to grow my Instagram following which has led me to feel inadequate as an artist at times. I love that WSNA is giving us a platform to show our skills to the world, no matter our personal audience size.

I think the long term benefits of competing will show in the video skills I’m building as I work on the challenges and in flexing my creative muscles. Creating nails for clients that are often based off pictures they find online means I don’t get the chance to start from scratch. I’ve become comfortable creating from others art, now I need to do the heavy thinking for myself. They say pressure creates diamonds, I know being a part of this will force me to grow in ways I wouldn’t expect.

If you could create artistic nails for anyone, who would it be and what design would you create?

I’d have to pick Violet Chachki, season 7 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The look would be for her gothic, flesh crown and stunning gown from the season eight finale.

What would it mean to you to win this competition?

Winning this competition would be a miracle! I’m blessed to go to work doing something I love, but to have the recognition of my skill would mean a lot to me. I want to prove that I am skilled, knowledgeable, and talented. Who knows where this competition will lead me! I hope to look back later in life while holding my first trophy and say, “I did it!”

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TikTok: sarahfontaine_garnish

By Editor