Mehendi Artist Career Information
What a Mehendi Artist does
The mehendi ceremony is an integral part of Indian marriages. So much so that unless you have a hi-profile mehendi artist to the wedding, you aren't happening. And mind you, mehendi is not just for the bride and the groom. Even the relatives, friends and acquaintances want fancy designs on their palms. And that's not all. Each one will want a different mehendi design from the rest. So, stop reading if you aren't the creative types.
A mehendi artist not just applies the mehendi but also sources the various ingredients that go into preparing the mehendi cone. As a mehendi artist, you got to know exactly what goes into these mixtures or else you might scar your client's hands.
Next, as a mehendi artist you will prepare the cones for applying the mehndi. Then comes sittings with your clients and deciding what pattern they would like. Although the all-time favourite is the herbal mehendi, chemical dyes and glitter mehndi called 'Zardosi' is also a hot favorite these days. To be popular as a mehendi artist you need to have your finger on the latest trends and fads.
This is a hobby which you can pursue as a career. So most people work from the comforts of their homes. This is ideal for college kids and bored housewives. As your reputation spreads as a mehendi artist the amount of work will also increase. You will then have to decide whether you want to pursue it as a full time career or continue it as a hobby. Once you take it up as a profession you can employ a few mehendi artists who will work for you on a profit sharing basis. Then you could only concentrate on applying mehendi for the bride while your associates work on the rest of the family.
As a mehendi artist you could also branch out into cosmetics or open a beauty parlour. Teaching always remains an attractive alternative as many people are interested in the 'do it yourself' kind of workshops
Business is usually booming from October to May, which is considered the marriage season. That's your time as a mehendi artist to mint money.
The concept of mehendi tattoo is the rage today. Youngsters are sporting them not just on the hands and feet but also on the arm, neck and even the back! Mehendi is also crossing over the boundaries of Indian fashion. Actresses like Demi Moore have made Mehndi 'cool' in the West.
Mehendi is now one of newest Indian export to Hollywood. Even Pop icon Madonna sported it in one of her videos. So don't be too surprised if you soon find a Mehndi parlor next to a Tiffany showroom on Beverly Hills!
Abilities & Traits Required
Creativity is the most important aspect of being a mehendi Artist. You need to look at a person's hands and decide what patterns would suit him/her. You need to constantly come up with new and unique designs. As a mehendi artist, you need to have steady hands. That is a must. The circles that you draw must look like circles and not eggs!
Patience is another virtue that you must develop if you want to be a successful mehendi artist. You need to sit for hours with your clients who might be fidgety and want everything done really fast. This is especially true while working with kids.
The best place to start off is any of the numerous private classes that teach you the basics. This would involve learning to make the pastes in order to get the right shade. As a trainee mehendi artist, you will also be taught some elementary designs.
Depending on the number of clients you get, as a mehendi artist could earn somewhere between Rs 2000-5000 a month. These are the starting figures.
You have to constantly sharpen your skills and come up with new designs. This will not only help maintain your existing clientele but will also establish your reputation. With enough experience you could earn as much as Rs 7000-10000 per session as a mehendi artist.
Interview with a Mehendi Artist
Heena Shah, Mehndi Artist
Heena Shah has been a professional mehndi artist for over 15 years. She has over 500 original designs to her credit.
How did you start off as a Mehndi artist? It started as a hobby. Soon I realised I was good at it and enjoyed it immensely. Although I was B.Com graduate, I was not working anywhere at the time. It was my friend Bhavna Shukla who encouraged me to take it up as a profession. She became my partner in this venture and we have been going strong since the past 15 years.
How did you manage to get the first few clients? Initially, I did mehndi work only for my family, close relations and friends. Gradually the word spread around and I started getting clients. Here your equation with your client matters the most. We had clients who not only kept coming back but also brought along their relations along as well. Besides literally, your work is on hand to be displayed to potential clients. Even today, I do not advertise in the papers or use any other form of publicity.
Can you take us through an average day? My day usually starts at around 9.00 a.m. I usually check the appointments for the day and then proceed to the client’s home. Once there, I sit down with my client and discuss as to the various patterns that one can choose from. I then prepare the mehndi pastes. Then begins the actual process of applying the mehndi. Depending on the intricate nature of the pattern and the amount of mehndi that need to be applied this might take anywhere between 20 minutes to up to four hours! On an average I do around three clients a day. This is however during the peak season usually from November to May. In the lean periods, I run mehndi classes and most of my time is spent instructing the students.
Tell us more about the classes that you run. Well I usually don’t take more than five to seven students per batch. These classes run for around 2 hours a day three days a week. The total duration of the course is around one month. We teach students right from the basics such as making pastes to making intricate designs. What one can’t teach is the ability to conjure up designs from ones mind.
What is the best part about this job? I like it a lot when I’m admired for my work. The look of satisfaction on the faces of my clients when they see the Mehndi on their hands is a source of immense pleasure for me.
Is there anything that you do not like about this job? To get the Mehndi just right, it not only depends on the artist but on the client as well. The biggest irritant is a client who shakes his or her too much. It becomes difficult to do our job and the end result may not turn out as anticipated. Also there are no fixed hours of work. Mehndi sessions could stretch upto midnight and you just can’t get up and say " Lets do it tomorrow!" The work once started needs to be done and needs to be done to the client’s satisfaction.
What qualities are required to be a successful mehndi artist? You need to have steady hands. This job also involves a lot of concentration. You might be required to handle small kids too. Most important of all you must be able to regularly come up with new and innovative designs. I myself have created over 500 designs and even then I must come out with more!
What is your advice to aspirants in this field?
If you have the talent and are willing to work hard then nothing will be impossible for you!
- Siddhartha Roy