Nail Artist Profile: Sang Dao
When we decided to do a series of profiles on nail technicians and nail artists, we searched Online for inspiring individuals who had passion for their work. After connecting with some nail pros, we were referred to Sang Dao (IG: Nails_by_Sang). At 21, Sang Dao’s work is already exhibiting a level of maturity far beyond his age.
Sang Dao is an artist who happens to have a passion for nails. His medium of choice is acrylic. And his canvas are the fingernails of his growing list of clients. His enthusiasm for his craft is evident in the way he interacts with clients, in the way he talks about nail art, and in each creation.
We tracked down this up and coming nail artist to learn more about him and the work he loves.
rilyf: How did you get started?
Sang: My family has been in the business ever since I could remember, but — to be honest — I wasn’t interested in nails when I was younger. I was supposed to go to art school. But when I started to look at tuition and other costs, I decided to pursue art in a different way. I love art, but I wasn’t interested in going into debt. That’s when I decided to give nail art a try.
rilyf: Did you find that you had a natural talent for it?
Sang: I think everyone has some artistic talent. It’s not just about being creative, though. Don’t get me wrong; creativity is very important, but you also need to have skill and technique. Without those, creativity gets you nowhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sculptor or a DJ. You gotta have skill and technique to fully express your creativity.
rilyf: How did you do it? How did you develop skills?
Sang: It wasn’t easy. I mean, those are things that most people don’t naturally have. You need to put in the time and work to have those. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to keep at it.
I got started one summer in high school. I got some training in the basics from my uncle and cousin at their shop in Connecticut. Honestly, it wasn’t very interesting until I went to Missouri. That was the turning point for me. Seeing talented nail artists sparked my interest in it.
After that, I started looking for mentors. I found some on YouTube that I still follow to this day. And, even now, I still find inspiration from other artists on social media.
rilyf: How long did you stay in Missouri?
Sang: Not long, actually. I moved from place to place. Nail art has its own unique flavor depending where you’re at. So, I wanted to expose myself to as many different styles as possible. I’ve pretty much traveled all over Jersey and PA to check out the nail scene in different places. I went to Delaware and Illinois. I even went to Lincoln, Nebraska. I worked at different places from high end luxe to low-end mom-and-pop salons. Each region had its own unique design reference. It was a good learning experience. And I’m still learning…
rilyf: Wow! That’s a lot of flying.
Sang: No. I drove actually. Just got in my car and hit the road.
rilyf: Where was the best place you worked?
Sang: There’s no perfect place. Every salon has its behind-the-scenes drama. People are people, and you’re bound to have conflicts just like in any other job. I just don’t like drama. I stay out of it. I just focus on making my clients happy. Everything else is second.
rilfy: Who are your mentors?
Sang: I don’t want to sound corny, but I honestly would not have made it this far without the support and inspiration of @nailsmag, @youngnailsinc, @thenailboss, @thenailceo, @thenailsqueen, @vanessa_nailz, @glitter_heaven_australia, @tonysnail, @nailsbymztina, @naild_by_nina, Notpolish Team, @nails2inspired, @helennails_yeg, @nailitmag, @hudabeauty, @laquenailbar, @thenaillife_, @nailsup_, @chellys_nail, the list can go on and on…
If I left out anyone, please forgive me. I don’t get interviewed and put on the spot often. But you know who you are. And you know I got nothing but love for you.
rilyf: How would you describe your style?
Sang: I’m really inspired by modern art. I like to explore and push boundaries. But it really boils down to what the client wants, the look and effect they’re going for. I like to speak with clients to get to know them, what styles they like and even what they don’t. Some clients have a clear idea what they want. Some are open to your ideas. So, if the clients wants clean, classic, I adapt to that. If the client wants something more edgy, that’s what I do. I’ll use whatever the client wants as long as it fits and makes the client happy.
rilyf: What do you think about The rilyf App?
Sang: I think On Demand is the future. I like the fact that rilyf connects you with customers in your area that otherwise would not have known about you unless they walked into your salon and was somehow matched with you. It’s great that clients can pick you based on your portfolio and customer feedback that are right there on the app. No more drama between other technicians at the salon about whose client is whose and all that. And I definitely like rilyf’s pay split; The highest [among the] On Demand apps that I’ve looked into. And payment and all that is done easily. No headaches. Big relief!
With rilyf, you get more than what you put in. If you work hard, you’re going to immediately get the benefits of the higher pay rate per job. Plus you also get rewards and bonuses on top of the satisfaction of doing a good job for your clients.
rilyf: What’s your life motto? Or what are some words you live by?
Sang: Stay positive. Keep a positive mindset and attitude towards everything. Try to make others around you happy. If people need a hand, and you’re in a position to help, then do it. Pay it forward. I hope to inspire others to pursue their passion as much as others have inspired me.