A nail artist who makes around £90,000 a year making and selling bespoke press-on nails has said she can spend up to a staggering 40 hours making each set.
Maddox McCollough, 27, first started painting nails professionally during the lockdown in 2020, and although she claims she was "terrible" at it when she first started, she now paints sets commercially for brands including Burger King, HBO, and Fox.
And Maddox, from North Carolina, US, admitted she can sometimes charge as much as £6,000 for a single set of nails, as her bespoke designs involve taking on "weird" requests from her clients.
She explained: "You can't even imagine how weird and wonderful some of the nail art requests get. I had one woman ask me to paint tiny versions of her Corgi in the style of the anime Naruto.
"As soon as I started doing nail art I just fell in love with it. I'd never been exposed to anything like it before."
Maddox, who is married to Hugo Lam, also a concept artist, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018 and began working in a nail salon in Berlin, Germany, where she learned the basics of painting nails.
And although she could "barely paint in a straight line" when she landed her job, she soon began feeling more confident in her painting abilities and branched out into more impressive designs.
She said: "I'd never done nails before - this would've been three to four years ago and I was terrible when I first started. I could barely even paint a straight line - the first time I painted a smiley face on a nail it was an absolute nightmare. My hand would be shaking all over the place.
"I studied art - I knew how to draw and paint, but this was painting on a flat surface with tiny tools. It's way more challenging than anyone would think. You've got to think about cuticle prep and applying the extensions correctly - otherwise, these things could distract from your art."
Maddox got the inspiration for her current business after watching videos on TikTok of people creating masterpieces on nails and decided to try her hand at posting her own content on the platform.
Her early videos would gain up to 11k views at a time and saw her practising popular designs like Thomas the Tank Engine, Super Mario and Sailor Moon, and before long, brands began paying her between £3,000 and £6,000 to paint promotional designs on her nails.
"A lot of brands look for unique, eye-catching nails," she added. "Fox asked me to paint characters from Bob's Burgers on a set - I've also done the Care Bears."
Maddox will soon be launching her own nail supply business which will sell tools specifically designed for intricate nail art.
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