User Rating: 4 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Inactive




Itching to go pro ...



A professional henna artist earns money in return for their artistic skills. Not everyone who charges for henna behaves like a professional. Like most skills, there is a progression from beginner to master. Don't rush it! Suppliers get people looking for kits to try out ‘because they’re gonna do a market next weekend.’ This makes real artists cry.

Good competition is not a threat to me.

Customers who have a good experience with you, are more likely to have henna done when they see me at a festival. If you’re a great artist, it keeps me on my toes.

Bad competition hurts everybody.
I hear people at festivals, standing just beyond the range of my stall, discussing having had bad henna before—it didn’t stain, it made them itch, the design was ugly. Then they walk away with their friends. You just lost me $20 of business.

The Bad and the Ugly:
There was the lady at the gypsy fair whose henna was liquid, sliding off and not leaving a mark at all. We friended her the next day and she told us she buys commercial imported cones from the discount Indian supermarket, but they’re too dry so she cuts them open and mixes them 50/50 with olive oil, because she’d read that you need oil in henna.

There was the festival artist who proudly showed me her huge plastic tub of paste that she’d made up 5 months ago and carted around from festival to festival ‘and it’s still going strong.’ Except that the pale orange stains were only lasting a day. ‘You can’t expect to get a week from henna stain anyway’ she told people.

An artist using ‘black henna’ PPD paste, was telling her customers that it is traditional Indian henna, very good for you. It soaks into your bloodstream and strengthens your internal organs. Her artwork was rough and looked like bad sharpie marker.

One artist was running a group session, learning how to use cones. But she used a wrap she hadn’t used before, that LOOKED plastic enough, but was foil printing on glossy paper. It was disintegrating in people’s hands and leaking globs of henna paste.

A group of bellydancers were to be surprised with belly henna on the last day after their final class. The artist had a fresh mix of paste, which turned out a bit too runny. It was a problem because the dancers were hot and sweaty after their class. It went melty and wouldn’t dry. Because the henna was a surprise, 11 bellydancers all wanted their designs done fast, because they had other places to be. The artist’s usual method of sealing—with lemon and sugar, didn’t work on squooshy bellies—the rolls stick together and smoosh the paste.

I’ll admit the last two were me (years ago!). I wasn’t ready.

Are you ready?
Don’t even CONSIDER doing henna for money unless you’ve been practicing for at least six months, practically every day, you have your henna paste mix perfect, you can GUARANTEE your results, and a professional henna artist says you are ready!
As a student of mine, I will be honest with you about your level of skill. I can provide opportunities to get experience. We’d rather co-operate with people who want to become artists, not compete.

These are newbie questions. If you are still asking them, you aren't ready yet:

How do I stop my paste cracking and falling off?
How do I price this design?
My paste is too runny. What can I add to make it thicker?
How much [name an ingredient] should I use in my paste?
How do I seal [name a body part]?
How do I store my henna? How long will it be good for?

If you’re ready to be a professional henna artist ...
1. Your tools of trade are sussed:
You mix your own paste, or buy fresh from an artist who does. No exceptions.
You know how to make your paste stick. It doesn’t flake off.
You know how to get the consistency right so your designs flow.
You know how to make sure it won't get runny or melt in high humidity.
You can tell me what every ingredient in your paste is, what it's there for, and how it works.
You are not making do with the cheapest materials/ingredients you can find. Quality counts.
You get great stain results on a range of people every time.
A pro manages their gear - you just don't run out of essential things.
Know how to assess your own paste’s dye release and staining power.
You’ve got your kit together with everything you need—not schlepping gear around unorganized in grocery bags.
Aftercare information printed to hand out to customers.

2. Your artwork is sussed:
Your line work looks confident and has depth.
Your proportions are balanced.
Designs turn out looking like they’re supposed to.
Don't ask your family and friends how good you are. Non-henna friends can be easily impressed, even if they are artistic.
Have your own portfolio with your own photographs. It is not ok to use another artist’s photos.
Do not display photos of artwork, or design pages, of work you are not capable of.
If you are saving other artists’ photos for your own inspiration, always save their name in the file so you know who to credit if you copy their design.
You can swallow your pride and take the artistic suggestions of someone you admire.
You don’t judge your work by how it looks on YOU. You don’t wriggle like a customer, and you take a lot longer when you’re doodling on yourself without time pressure.
You know you will NEVER stop learning or practicing.

3. You have some depth to your knowledge:
You can recognise several regional henna styles
You understand the basics about ethnic celebrations where henna is often used.
You know how to dress and behave appropriately for all ethnic/religious groups
You can explain the chemistry behind henna stains.
You network with experienced henna artists and/or online henna communities.
Experience, experience, experience. Nothing replaces hours spent working on skin.
You recognise black henna or emergency mehndi when you see it.
You have sound knowledge of good hygiene practices and skin/chemical safety.
You know that festivals, bridal mehndi, and pregnancy henna all have additional essential knowledge.

4. Your business practice is sussed:
You are punctual. On time, every time.
You have a fail-proof bookings system.
Your promotional materials are honest, good-looking and clear—business cards, posters, signage website.
You have public liability insurance
You have registered with IRD. Taking payment ‘under the table,’ ie, avoiding tax, is not professional.
You’ve organised somewhere 'nice' to meet clients if you’re not going to their homes.
You are aware of fair pricing - undervaluing your work makes it harder for another artist to ask what they're worth.

Another sign that you’re ready—you’ve thought of 5 or 6 things that I haven’t listed


Find This Article Helpful? Have Questions or Want Something Clarified?
Comment Below And I'll Answer!

I love to get comments, it totally makes my day so I check often. If you post a question, I'll respond!

Share Your Comments

Copyright© Henna Oasis 2014