Scrolling through Lana Sheen’s Instagram account, @decenails, makes you wonder if you just found the nail tech of your dreams or the best girlfriend ever. We’ll save you some time and let you know she’s both those things! Lana speaks of her art and career from the perspective of someone who, rather that touting inexplicable natural-born talent, stresses the importance of practice, perseverance, and persistence. Though she graduated from the Nail Studio program only a year ago, her feed presents the kinds of artfully crafted nails and nail art that you’d see in famous international salons. Quirky, adorable, and a near-bonafied Disney princess (Ariel, of course), Lana makes sure her nail art —and her life—is rooted around her truest, most authentic self at all times. That, and a good meme!
I can’t wait to ask this question—what is the story behind your Arthur’s fist nail art?!
OMG! It’s a funny story actually. Usually, when I’m doing a new set of nails at home, I try and create sets I think lots of other people would like, using colours and trends that are popular in the salon I work at or on Instagram. But I’ve been trying to force myself to create sets that I like that I come up with. That night, I was home drinking wine and scrolling through memes—which I love—I came across that Arthur one with a clenched fist and I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I was like “I have to do this!” So I started painting and I was giggling the entire time. When I was done and I posted them, they got the best reaction out of anything I’d ever done! That was a big lesson for me. Since then, I’ve focused on ignoring what’s ‘popular’ and just creating things that I feel like creating.
It’s such a great set! The other post of yours we have to hear about is your Ariel nails that show your nail art progress. The difference is crazy! It had me shook!
Oh gosh, that had me shook too! Sometimes I forget where I started. Now when I do nails, it’s almost like I black out and when I’m done I come to and it’s like ‘Shit, did I do that?!’ And sometimes if you’re having a hard day, it really makes the practice feel worthwhile even when it doesn’t feel like it’s paying off. Practice is so important!
Is that the advice you would give to up-and-coming Nail Artists?
Oh, absolutely! I started doing nails back in 2011 and I wasn’t good. Like, at all. But I was determined and I kept practicing. It’s really so good to look back on how far you’ve come no matter what you do. It makes the progress a tangible thing and it feels so good to see improvement for yourself rather than just having people tell you. I posted the different versions of my Ariel nail art partially because I was proud of myself but also because I wanted people to realize you don’t just start amazing at what you do. It took years for me to get to where I am now.
You’ve been doing nails since 2011?!
Yes! And that’s also a funny story. I was 13, in middle school and this girl came to class one day with these cheetah print nails over the prettiest ombre and she got so much attention…and I got so jealous! I decided I wanted to be able to do nail art like that and so I started practicing on myself. I’m pretty competitive so I just kept going and kept practicing and I started enjoying it too much to ever stop. So, shout-out to Juliana because her nails got me into nails first!
So your family wasn’t surprised when you went to Nail School?
No, my whole family is super artistic but I wasn’t until I started doing nails. It got to the point where I genuinely wondered if I was adopted—and so did they! So when I started doing nail art they were all like “Ohhhhh this is your thing!” Now I show them everything I paint, they’re the best support system ever.
What ended up leading you to Blanche Macdonald and the Nail Studio program?
I had a friend who was going there for Makeup and she called me and was like “You have to come to this school. It’s the best!” I didn’t know what I was doing or even have a place to stay but I already knew I was going to love it. Looking back, I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I spent a while looking at other schools and a ton of time thinking about what I was going to do with my life. I wanted to take nails but I was always asking “yeah but, will it sustain my livelihood?” But it felt too right not to do. I chose Blanche Macdonald because you only learn the basics once so why not learn them at the best place?! It was such an easy decision.
That’s incredible. And how was your time here?
Oh I have so many nice memories. I loved everyone in my class and we all bonded immediately. We had this group text message and we would send each other memes, homework, we’d encourage each other if we weren’t feeling confident—we were such a great team. And the instructors! Amanda and Christy, they were so nice and helpful and just so sweet to us all the time.
And now you work in a salon in Victoria?
Yes! I got a job in a salon in Victoria called Deco de Mode and it’s been incredible. The Nail program really set me up for success. The cleaning and sanitization we learned is so, so important. It taught me how to find a good, safe place for me to work as well. It is definitely the biggest thing I got out of the program.
If you could do any celeb nails, it would be ______.
Ariana Grande. I’ve painted her face on countless nail sets. I’ve got ‘crazy fan’ status already!
Pastel or Neon?
Neon for sure! I love bright things. Anything to catch the eye.
Matte or shine?
What’s your favourite thing about doing nails?
Making people happy 100%.
Did you ever think about doing anything else as a career?
Honestly, not really. I’ve had some health problems over the years so for a while I thought about nursing so I could help other people when they’re sick. But my passion for nails was just too strong. I couldn’t ignore it!