NAIL NOTES & QUOTES by nail artist, Hemi Park
By Alex Fox | 06 November 2020 | Feature, Tech Talk, Technique
As I write this blog for Scratch, I’m in the air somewhere above the Pacific Ocean flying back home to California from South Korea.
I’ve just spent over two months in its capital Seoul, working with Andrea Park of Nailholic magazine and Nailpro Competitions ASIA-Korea.
There’s about 40 passengers on this aircraft and everyone is wearing masks. I’m sure everyone is just as anxious as me to get home safely.
On arrival in Korea last August, I was quarantined alone for 14 days, which was the mandatory requirement from the Korean government and KCDC (Korean Center of Disease Control) for all overseas travellers. I was tested at the designated local health office and then volunteered to be tracked by the government during my quarantine. I went through all of this for the safety of my family, myself and my work – and let me tell you, it was so worth it for the amount of work I was able to do during my stay all thrown together with a little family fun too.
When I left California, I made the decision to close my nail studio. I’ve not been able to service any clients since mid-March, and with so much uncertainty around safety, I felt it was the best move. At the time I was panicking; the statewide shelter-in-place had been announced and I was supposed to work on my freelancing job on-site as well as servicing clients, while knowing I’d soon be travelling to Korea to moderate the competition.
With all this on my mind I felt stuck and locked up, even though I was home with my husband and cats. I felt depressed and anxious, missing work and not knowing when I would be able to go back. I’m sure many of you can be sympathetic with how I was feeling as I know this is the same for many.
I arrived in Korea during its heavier flow of Covid-19 cases; the government had ordered level 3 social distancing guidelines, meaning non-essential businesses were closed at 9pm; this included restaurants. The government adaptively adjusted these guidelines to level 2.5, then level 2, and it went down to level 1 recently, which allowed larger group gatherings including conventions under strict guidelines.
During my stay, I was able to moderate and interpret for the contactless nail competition event, visit Nailholic photoshoots and attend a nail convention. All of these were possible due to extensive safety measures undertaken by everyone including wearing masks at all times in public.
After my quarantine, I made a hair appointment. I spoke to the hairstylist about what safety measures had been actioned since the pandemic and she told me the KCDC had advised salons to follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks, limit the number of people in the salon and not to serve drinks.
There’s been no mass cases confirmed from salons after just one incident, because everyone is playing their part to prevent spread of the disease. When I spoke to nail technician friends, they said the same thing. Although, there’s been a decrease in appointments booked since the pandemic began, but the same goes for all businesses in Korea; just as it is everywhere in the world.
It’s not every day that you get to visit the monthly photoshoot of Nailholic magazine (@nailholickorea). I was invited by editor, Andrea Park, as she knows I’m always delighted to get sneak peeks of anything, whether it’s new product, designs or artists. There’s always something new to see at a Nailholic photoshoot.
I was also excited to see Sunyoung (@handmodel_kr), a world-renowned hand model, also known as ‘the hands of Samsung electronics’.
For the Nailholic November issue, the colour theme of the month was inspired by wild mushrooms, so there were lots of earthy muted coloured objects carefully curated by Andrea to complement Autumn/Winter trends. Although the props are arranged by Andrea, it’s also the vision of each nail artist, the photographer and hand model that counts during the shoots.
This month’s editorial and cover nails were created by SoHeun (@leesoheun) from I’Zemi who I acted as interpreter for during her nail art demo at a recent competition live event. SoHeun created delicate floral designs incorporated with 2020 A/W trend colours and letters.
In the USA, magazine covers are often created directly on the model’s hands, which showcases a wide variety of techniques such as sculpting and extreme shapes. To the contrary, Nailholic focuses on nail art on tips, which allows the editor to convey a more uniformed presentation throughout the entire magazine.
From my perspective, as a freelancing content creator, I prefer to bring pre-designed nail tips to a shoot to represent the fullest spectrum of my nail artistry, and for the convenience of shooting multiple looks within a relatively short time frame.
A jam-packed day ahead saw Nailholic’s design manager Sumin overseeing product and reader’s nail art tip shots happening simultaneously on the other side of the studio. The entire photoshoot can take about 5-7 hours, before the post-photoshoot edits. It truly takes a great amount of team work and effort to publish a magazine, and I genuinely appreciate the amount of quality work put into each month’s Nailholic, especially these days when most professional magazines are struggling to pull through.
My next stop was to the convention center where the Seoul Nail Expo was being hosted. KCDC lowered the social distancing guideline to level 1, which allowed larger events to be held with strict guidelines such as disinfecting the venue regularly throughout the event and gathering all attendees’ contact information for epidemiological tracking in case of an outbreak. It may sound excessive, but these extra safety measures have kept Covid-19 numbers in two digits across the entire peninsula of Korea for the last few months.
I attended this same convention last year and clearly remember it being very crowded and loud, yet this year the show floor seemed calm and peaceful. This was mostly due to companies not offering live demos in order to prevent close gatherings.
I was grateful to be walking around the booths, as I got to check out some of the newest products of the season. The A/W trending products were visually textured goods such as Terrazo effect gel polishes, magnetic gel polishes and fur gel polishes all back for winter styling. There have been many loose glitter product releases during the summer season in Korea, so it looks like the sparkly trend is going to continue with even more effects such as light-reflecting (like Scotchlite) and glow in dark versions emerging.
Besides nail art products, safety and disinfection products such as autoclaves, dust collectors and ultrasonic cleaners were in the frontline of almost every booth, and there was a marked increase in the sales of this safety equipment since the pandemic began, according to Mrs Bae from Beriche (@beriche_official).
I could go on for days about how inspiring my trip was and how energised I now feel after getting back into the world of nails. But instead, I’ve logged most of my pictures and video clips on my IG story highlights for you to dive into if you want to know more. Needless to say, I’d love for everyone to join me at the next nail event in person, but until then, stay safe!
Meet Hemi Park @sugarplumfairyfingers