Pro Spotlight: Amy Le
We recently sat down with OPI nail pro, Amy Le, or as we know her @amyle.nails on Instagram, to find out what it takes to make it as a nail artist and content creator in today’s fast-moving digital world. She shared insights with us into her creative process, how she overcomes mental blocks, and what it was like to recently work on a big project with us. Read on to get the full inside interview.
OPI: Hi Amy! Thanks so much for taking the time to check in with us, we're excited to learn more about your creative process. To start, how do you begin to create a new nail art look? (Do you look to pinterest for inspo? Draw it out? Just start painting?)
AL: To many people’s surprise— I actually don’t spend a whole lot of time planning out my nail art. Most of the content you see on my page is done while I’m watching Netflix or I’m on a FaceTime call with my best friend (who is also a nail artist). If it’s a really interesting part of the show/conversation, I’ll opt for something simple. If there’s nothing exciting going on, I find myself constantly adding to a look until it feels finished.
OPI: Do you typically have to make adjustments to the looks you create? Has that ever required you to start over?
AL: Whenever I’m working with a brand & they ask me for a list of looks before the project starts, I find there are more adjustments to be made as opposed to brands that give me creative freedom as I go. It's not as difficult to start over after you figure out the "style" the brand gravitates towards.
OPI: How do you decide what products/colors to use?
AL: When it comes to nail products, there isn’t anything on the market that I won’t purchase. (This is probably where a bulk of my money goes.) Anytime I find a new brand online, I’ll make a purchase to see if there is something that I’m missing out on. As for colors, I take the time to see what is going around in magazines. When a fashion influencer starts transitioning their wardrobe from neon to autumnal colors, that’s when you'll see my color palette change as well.
OPI: How long does the whole creation process typically take from start to finish?
AL: To be completely honest, if a brand gives me free rein to do whatever look I want given specific colors— I can actually finish about 3-4 looks in a day, that’s including filming as well as final imagery.
These looks come a lot faster and easier because it’s very natural. It’s inspired by what I think will do well online at that time, which I enjoy because that's content for myself, too!
If I have to film something that I already know in advance, I find one video could take me all day because I’m procrastinating. The fun is already taken out of the process so it just feels more like “work”.
OPI: Once you have the nail art look down, what’s next?
AL: After a nail look is completed, the next step is always photos. Then, I remove the work I just did and move onto my next look.
OPI: Is there a routine you have before filming a video or taking a nailfie?
AL: Would you believe me if I told you 9/10 times that I’m filming, I’m watching some sort of series of prank videos on YouTube? If that counts for routine, then that’s what I’m doing.
OPI: What equipment do you use? (nail products, camera, lights, etc.)
AL: When it comes to nail products, I typically don’t stick with just one brand. With all the products I’ve invested in, I try my best to utilize them all in some way simply because I have them. Believe me when I say I have enough nail supplies for a whole salon, maybe even two!
As far as cameras go, you’re going to roll your eyes when you read this. When I first started content creating, I upgraded my phone to the latest iPhone thinking that was enough. Wrong.
After putting a video from my iPhone into an editing app, the quality goes down significantly. I then needed to invest in a DSLR, which was difficult in 2 ways.
1.) It’s not user friendly
2.) Investing is really difficult during COVID because like many artists, we’re not sure when we will have job stability.
I did it anyway hoping that was going to be good enough but was it? Nope. The lights that I purchased for filming with an iPhone is not the same lighting I needed for this camera set up. I’m still in the process of figuring out the best lighting and although I just recently (less than a week ago recently) found a better filming set up, I’m still tweaking things so I’ll have to revisit this question later. Just know it’s a huge trial and error process.
OPI: Do you have any recommendations for capturing the perfect content for new creators and artists?
AL: I highly recommend investing money in a camera & lighting other than your iPhone. Don’t make the same mistake I made and “waited until content creating got more serious” to invest. I say that because the work you put out before investing says a lot about your brand as a creator. I look back at the videos I’ve submitted to brands in the past and I can’t help but think, “this could have been so much better”.
OPI: What if a look doesn’t come out the way you want it to? Is it possible to fix it or do you have to start over?
AL: Most times, the looks I have in mind don’t come out the way I expected it to but it just works. The best part about working with gel polish is you can wipe it off the moment you realize you don’t like what you see. If the art is already cured & gold foil can’t pull the look together then sadly— yes, a restart is necessary.
OPI: Is there a specific process you take when coming up with nail art ideas? (I.e. Listening to music, looking at art, seeing what other pro’s are doing?)
AL: Nail art ideas really come on a day to day basis for me. If you asked me what were my big inspirations last year, I would have told you a mix of a handful of professional nail artists. If you asked me what my primary inspiration source was last month, I would tell you fashion magazines & influencers. If you ask me what I’ve been looking at lately, I’ve been on Pinterest. There’s no way for me to decide which source is better compared to the other, but it’s just how I’m feeling at the time.
OPI: Do you believe that every nail tech’s creative process is different?
AL: I remember reading somewhere that everyone goes through the same steps of the creative process but they don’t realize it because the process isn’t linear.
Prepare. You just realize you are going to create nail art. Now what? Incubate. You brainstorm what designs could work in that moment given the colors, occasion, nail inspo, etc. Illuminate. You decide on what would work best out of all choices. Evaluate. You think about the best way to logically go about the design. Implement. The idea comes to life. Boom.
Do I specifically think about these five things on a day to day basis? Not at all, but it makes sense that we all do it.
OPI: Do you ever find yourself in a mental block? How do you get inspired again?
AL: I tend to get stuck if I have to work with something I don’t really enjoy, a prime example being glitter. If you give me 3 shimmery colors and tell me to create something, I have 0 direction of what I want to do.
OPI: How has working with OPI and other major nail brands been? Do you independently come up with the look or is it a collaborative effort with the brand typically?
AL: Working with OPI has been a different experience in comparison to all the other brands I’ve worked with because they are a team that likes to be in the know well in advance. It must be a planning thing because they plan all their content way in advance (months!) This is good for any content creator who works well with structure as opposed to trends. It is a collaborative effort too because they kind of already have a few things in mind with what style/ vibe that they’re looking for.
My favorite part of working with OPI is that along with their professionalism, they are very kind, patient, understanding, and easy to work with.
OPI: Thanks so much for sharing your process and inspiration with us! It’s been a pleasure working with you as well, and we hope to check back in with you soon.