Rani in the City

How to choose a mehndi artist: a mehndi artist’s perspective – Part 1

Perfection and beauty are important goals for your wedding day. Along with dresses, shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup, mehndi is an essential part of the bride’s look.  Be sure to budget some time to find a mehndi artist who will round out the perfection and beauty that you seek.  Find the right artist and your mehndi will be gorgeous, the experience relaxing and fun.  Find the wrong one, and you’ll add an unnecessary headache to a full schedule of pre-wedding activities.  The advice below is intended to make hiring a mehndi artist easy, leaving you with one more wonderful wedding memory. 

I have been a mehndi artist for 15 years, hennaing brides all over the NYC area including some destination weddings farther afield.  I have sweated under the watchful gaze of the mother-in-law, braved the bride’s sister’s demands for the mehndi party and hennaed sitting on the floor while the entire family dances around me until the floorboards shake.  I think I have seen it all but I keep an open mind for new experiences.  I truly love doing bridal mehndi, contributing my little part to the overall gorgeousness of her wedding.  There is a certain intimacy between artist and bride that I really enjoy; we discuss different styles and designs, finding ones that incorporate motifs that are meaningful to her, and choosing styles that accentuate the features of her hands and feet.  In the end, the bride and I collaborate to create a singular and ephemeral work of art that portends a happy marriage. 

When searching for a mehndi artist be sure to look for her portfolio of work and consider the following questions:
1.    Is the art hers?
It is very easy for someone to create a portfolio of stolen images; this practice is rampant in the mehndi community so be sure to ask the artist.  Look for watermarks and see if there seems to be too much of a range of quality within the portfolio.  Ask the artist if all the images on her site are her work.

2.    How much work shown is bridal?
Usually someone who does a lot of bridal mehndi will have a separate gallery of her bridal work.  If the bridal work is mixed in with other types of work, try to get an idea of there are sufficient examples of bridal designs for you to get an idea of the artist’s experience doing bridal mehndi.

3.    How much variety in her styles?
Take note of the different styles in the artist’s portfolio to get an idea of the breadth of her experience.  You want an artist who can do the style you want or can mix styles.  Ask her what her favorites are or if she specializes in any particular style.
4.    How much is copied from books? How much is original?
Mehndi artists often work from design books, copying designs exactly.  Some artists create original work within the guidelines of a style instead of copying.  If you see that the portfolio only contains designs created by someone else, you may not be able to get them to create an original design for you, or mix styles.  It is also possible that the artist is so original that she can’t copy the exact design you want.  If you’re unsure, ask them what their capabilities are.
5.    What do YOU like?
As you go through the portfolios of the artists you like, take note of the kinds of motifs and layouts that you like; this information will help your mehndi artist in creating a beautiful design for you.  Notice if you keep going back to designs that feature a lot of paisleys or flowers. Get an idea of how much coverage you want based on what you are looking at.  Bookmark or print out the designs that catch your eye so that you can show them to the artist at your consultation; this will help the artist come up with a beautiful design AND an accurate price estimate.

6.    Who thinks highly of the artist?
When looking online, google the artist’s name to see if you can find mentions of them elsewhere and see what their reputation is.  If you know of a mehndi artist in another area you can ask her what she knows about the artists in your area who you are considering.  If the artist has a Facebook or Flickr page, read the comments to see what the opinions of her are.  Some artists can be found on review sites like Yelp.  This method is probably more accurate than getting a hand-picked list of references from the artist.

7.    How professional is the artist on the phone?
Follow your intuition.  How do you feel when talking to the artist on the phone?  Is she being clear about her pricing?  Does she understand your questions and concerns?  Will she show up on time, on the right date?  Is she willing to accommodate your busy schedule?  Is she willing to meet you for a consultation? 

8.    Does she offer a free or cheap trial/consult?
Most bridal vendors will offer a free consultation or a low-priced trial.  Ask your prospective mehndi artist if you can meet her, look at her portfolio, go over price estimates and get a small sample.  Some artist will do this for free, others will charge a small fee.  Calling around well in advance will ensure that you have time to consult with several different artists before you make your choice.

9.    What’s in your henna paste?
We’ve all heard horror stories about brides breaking out in hives or blisters from unknown ingredients in the henna, or worse, scarring from black henna. You have the right to know what is in the henna paste that will be used on your skin; if your mehndi artist is using safe and natural ingredients she has nothing to fear from your questions.  Let her know if you are allergic to anything especially any essential oils.  Beware of artists who don’t make their own henna paste; store-bought paste sometimes contains mystery ingredients or is too stale to leave a good stain.

Stay tuned for more advice!

Credits: all henna by yours truly Lisa Butterworth, kenzi.com

Photography: Gulnara Studio, Emin Kuliyev, Kimberly Hurst, House of Talent Studio and Dan Loh

This entry was published on May 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm. It’s filed under henna, mehndi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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