Don't Be Sorry Colouring Out of Lines
Nail Aesthetician. Graphic Designer. Crystal bracelet curator.
The many talented lives of Annabel Lee
Have you always been this ‘talented’ since young?
你人很好 to say that, but yes I have possessed artistic inclination since young. I’ve been drawing since my earliest memories. When I was in primary 2, my art teacher gave me a C grade because I drew a huge rainbow aeroplane shooting rainbow jet streams. Then I got a little affected by it because I didn’t realise art could be graded so subjectively. Despite so, I still wanted to take art but somehow my secondary school didn’t offer Art as an O level subject so I couldn’t do art for A levels too.
It was only when I went on a summer programme in Boston University that I got to choose and so i took graphic design. Since i couldn’t do formal arts education in Singapore why not try try in America. And so it was there that I got an A grade for drawing — with my eyes literally closed — a minimalist toilet bowl and paper.
What do you think is the commonality between doing nails and designing crystal bracelets?
Art, vanity, and self care. Also they’re both accessories you wear on your hand.
Interesting that you put art, vanity and self care together. Care to elaborate more on that?
It would be very hypocritical to say that you like to accessorize/decorate/do things to look good and then say you’re not subscribing to vanity. I think a lot of people look at vanity as some deadly sin. It isn’t. It’s just human nature. And ,I saw this quote somewhere and it says “a little vanity wouldn’t hurt” ! I feel there’s a difference between taking care of yourself versus looking good solely for the #gram !
Do you think social media accelerated your progress? You have over 90k fans on @Followthatway and a growing fan base at @henmeide
Yes definitely, the growth motivated me to churn out even more designs! I started Followthatway 8 years ago, back when Instagram was in its popularity infancy. However after a while I stopped working so hard just to post on Instagram because it got quite futile and isolating. In retrospect I think it’s because Followthatway started out with zero intention of anything. It was purely just a curiosity of a new app, and also a place to store my nail photos. When it grew to a larger following, that was when I started trying to monetize it. In fact a lot of people around me saw the “business potential” and started telling me to do this and that, but that wasn’t really what I wanted though. I always feel like I’m trying to do something different than the usual nail art transactional services. I’m not the nail artist that enjoys providing nail services everyday. I like sharing of ideas and artistic visions and seeing how people come up with their interpretations.
As for Henmeide, it operates quite differently because it’s both creative and consumer driven, I intentionally created it as a business platform to sell these crystal jewelry, so I do need to approach it with more business acumen. Along the way I didn’t know that I’ve created a pseudo community of 美人们 but it’s definitely less isolating than providing nail services!
What would you say to folks today who want to put their stuff up on IG and make it as their thing too?
Just do it, and don’t do it for the fame. I often hear that they’re afraid of receiving criticism. But if you’re an artist or someone who wants to be in the creative industry, that’s just one small part of the deal you’re signing up for.
I am sure you get a lot of questions asking why don’t you start making these your THANG! And I heard you are still looking for a job. Would you like to share more?
Because my artistic hobbies are expensive to keep up, and I still want to gain more working experience in the creative industry. Ideally I will be able to do my art full time in a studio with people who want to hang out and do art stuff together!
On to the workshop, why was it called Nails Don’t Lie?
Clarice came up with it.
I’m not sure why, but it has a ring to it I guess. Your nails are quite tell-tale signs of what you’ve been doing with your life, and your health. I also think hands are very important when you’re meeting people for the first time, kind of like first impressions.
Anything interesting you observed from the session?
Literally everyone can draw, I was super impressed!
As with every artistic endeavor, there were some of them who were very afraid to mess up even though I kept reassuring them that it’s really okay. We’ve been brought up thinking that we need to colour within the lines. We’re taught not to paint your aeroplanes rainbow. It’s societal conditioning to think that there is right and wrong in creating art. I remember in my recent past job, I was overseeing an arts mentoring programme and we’ve been telling kids that it is okay to colour out of the Iine as long as you own your art, you don’t have to be sorry about it.
And so coming back to the nail workshop, imagine you’re scaling your canvas down to the size of a fingernail. In this sense, precision and technique really matters, and there’s more pressure to “draw it right”. In my opinion the only thing that matters is ensuring you’re working on a well-prepped canvas. Then it’s free play to draw whatever you want!
I do wish more people would try nail art and find that it’s actually not that daunting! Just need to keep practicing!
What’s next for Annabel?
You’ll see me more often at Bold painting nails 🌚
Jokes aside, I’m the sort of person that thrives on doing a lot of things at once. I’ll be focusing more on my bracelets and nails, and if a full time job comes along, that will be even more exciting!