Hand modeling was never a career I envisioned for myself. I don’t actually think anyone ever dreams of becoming a hand model as a little kid. Hand modeling is something that most people are fairly unaware of -- unless you’ve seen the viral hand model lady video on Youtube, the "Zoolander" movie, or the episode of "Seinfeld" where George has a brief hand modeling career.
I moved to New York with no intentions of ever being a hand model. I transferred here to finish up my BFA in Fine Arts and Jewelry Design at Parsons the New School of Design. After getting my degree and working at a variety of jewelry companies, I was hired at Bobby Pin Jewelry as a jewelry designer.
It was actually while working at Bobby Pin Jewelry that I got thrown into my very first hand shoot. I managed the business’s social media accounts and would often post pictures of my hands wearing rings and bracelets. These pictures would get a high volume of likes, as well as numerous comments about my hands and nails in addition to the jewelry.
One fateful day, Bobby Pin Jewelry was being featured in an editorial shoot for TWELV Magazine. The whole shoot was Guy Bourdin-inspired so at the last minute the team painted my nails red and added me to the shoot. In one shot I stood behind the model with my hands on top of her hands, covering her eyes à la Bourdin, and in the second shot I stood behind her again and hugged her from the back.
When the editorial finally came out, I figured that I should use the professional looking pictures and reach out to a few beauty photographers to do some test shoots. I managed to get a few test shots as well as some gigs that I found on my own. With the pictures and experience, I was then able to make myself a small hand modeling portfolio.
I took my wimpy portfolio and submitted it to a local parts modeling agency in an attempt to see if I could actually do this as a real job. I researched the most reputable parts agencies here in New York and reached out with my new pictures. Without having any real concept of what makes a good hand model, I sent in my pictures and hoped for the best.
Fortunately, I got called back and went in for an interview. Suddenly I became very conscious of my hands; I made sure I went out and got a nice manicure before going in to see the agent. During the meeting, the agent checked out my hands and even measured them to determine my glove size. I signed on with her that day and started working soon after.
I've since worked on a myriad of shoots that have included advertisements, fashion editorials, cosmetic products, nail art tutorials, artworks, and much more. Like regular modeling, parts modeling can get you a variety of work. I never really know what I'm in for until I arrive on set. On typical shoots I'm chopping food, pouring a drink, holding beauty products, wearing jewelry, or showing off nail art but there can be some odd requests from time to time.
My job can get a little strange -- I've been asked to wear a wedding dress so that I could hold a bouquet in front of myself, I've posed with a live Angora rabbit, I've placed my hands on other people’s faces to make it seem like my hands are theirs, and I've been covered in both body paint and glitter. Each job is always a surprise.
Hand modeling jobs can also vary in difficulty. Some jobs are as simple as resting your hand flat on a table, while others involve contorting the hell out of your body to get the perfect angle. Usually, the hardest thing about my job is trying to keep my body completely out of frame while holding whatever position my hands are in for a long period of time. My arms and hands have occasionally gone numb from being held up in the air for too long. It also requires a lot of balance and steadiness; your hand cannot be shaking while someone is trying to take a crisp and clear picture.
It can be really fun work -- I get to work with some the industries’ most talented and creative individuals, such as well-known photographers and top manicurists. I often shoot nail art tutorials or features so at the end of the day I leave the shoot with amazing manicures.
In parts modeling, having the “perfect” part is essential because all of the focus is on one small area of your body. Since working as a hand model professionally, my hand care routine has become much more of a concern. People often ask me how I take care of my hands and, honestly, I don’t go too crazy -- I'm not the type to wear protective gloves all day.
I try to be careful to not scratch my hands, bruise them or (of course) break a nail. Moisturizing has become a pretty big deal for me because nothing looks worse on camera than dry or cracked hands. I try keep my skin well moisturized and I pay special attention to my cuticles because mine tend to dry out.
Cuticle care is one of my major concerns when it comes to taking care of my hands. Maintaining healthy cuticles helps my nails grow long and strong. I personally don't like cutting my cuticles because I feel like it makes the skin grow back more uneven -- thus causing the need for them to be cut more often. I have no medical evidence for this -- it's just something I've noticed for myself.
My hand modeling career has not altered my daily life in any major ways. I might be a little more careful when putting away the dishes or opening a letter, but I still work two other jobs that are pretty hands on in different ways.
Hand modeling has been a great way for me to earn extra money and to meet great people. It might not always be the most consistent work or exactly what I dreamed of doing with my life, but I’m enjoying the ride and making it work for me.