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Recent Posts

  1. Going for Gold
    Tuesday, February 18, 2014
  2. Practice, practice, practice makes?
    Friday, February 07, 2014
  3. ISSE Long Beach
    Tuesday, February 04, 2014
  4. A New Year
    Wednesday, January 29, 2014
  5. Summers Up! Now something new...
    Monday, September 30, 2013
  6. Pasadena Nailpro Competitions
    Wednesday, April 24, 2013
  7. Ramping it up
    Friday, April 12, 2013
  8. New Art Technique & Competition Class
    Monday, April 01, 2013
  9. New Designs!!!
    Thursday, March 28, 2013
  10. Wonderland
    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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  1. Masterworks by Amy Becker on A New Year
    1/30/2014
  2. Annette Calvillo on A New Year
    1/30/2014
  3. Masterworks by Amy Becker on Masterworks: A Professional Gel Nail Company by Nail Techs for Nail Techs...only.
    10/11/2012
  4. Masterworks by Amy Becker on Spring
    10/11/2012
  5. Kay on Masterworks: A Professional Gel Nail Company by Nail Techs for Nail Techs...only.
    10/4/2012
  6. MARIANGELI VELAZQUEZ on Spring
    9/20/2012
  7. Masterworks by Amy Becker on Mastertip Mondays!!!
    4/28/2012
  8. Nail frenzy on Mastertip Mondays!!!
    4/25/2012
  9. Masterworks by Amy Becker on My Sister Gwen 12/23/1969-4/14/2012
    4/16/2012
  10. Vicki on My Sister Gwen 12/23/1969-4/14/2012
    4/16/2012

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Going for Gold

I was just watching the US Gold Ice Dancing Champions.  They've been practicing together for 17 years.  As I watched, I wondered if they ever just thought to themselves, "Is all of this practicing really worth it?" 

Doing what we love.  That should always be our first motivator but keeping up a very high level of expertise for decades?  What's the payoff.  Of course there's always a payoff.  For some it's monetary.  For others, it's self worth.  For some it's the fear of having to learn what's next and then trying to achieve that at the same or better level than what we are currently operating at. 

Being that I'm at the latter... I'm off once again.  My business partner, Linda, and I are taking a very different approach to marketing and building Masterworks.  Hang on, it's about to get bumpy!  I've never been one to follow the same path as others and this endeavor is no different.

Part of this path is to establish a Hard Gel Nail Organization.  Those of us who have been doing and understand hard gels are struggling with what we are seeing in the nail industry.  Right now we can really only educate our customers about the damaging affects of soakable gels. 

Practice, practice, practice makes?

Well, it's that time of year again.  I'm practicing for Germany.  I'm booking up my off days with practice sets.  For anyone in the greater Milwaukee area who would like a free set of nails and can give me 3 hours in exchange, I would love to hear from you! 

I still am amazed at how with every practice I still learn something new.  There are always a lot of little tweaks to make the best set possible.  Here's my set from yesterday:Monika's trying to wear them for a few days at this length!  Good luck Monika!!!

So in all this, being my last competition, it makes me ask myself, "What will keep me working like this at this level after I'm done competing?"  As I write this, "Advertisements" comes to mind.  Video tutorials is another one.  I always need something in my life that causes me to challenge myself.  It's not that I'm a stress monger and need that element in my life.  While I was doing Monika's nails yesterday, we had a conversation about this.  (She thought that I subconsciously added stress to my life and wouldn't know what to do without it!) Actually quite to the contrary.  I have relished not having to prepare for the last 3 shows with umpteen competitions.  I have enjoyed judging, mentoring and interviewing.  I have found a new voice to share what I've learned over the last 23 years of competing through a new competition column at Nailpro Magazine. (Thank you Stephanie!)

So I'm in search of finding my new normal.  It's coming, but it always feels like I'm traversing on icy ground.  I slip and slide until it melts and then I'm off running, which is the only time I really run well.  (I get made fun of when I actually run!)  There are so many things I want to do that I've never done before.  In order to succeed, I will definitely need to adhere to my own schedule.  I'll also have to not let fear keep me from getting started.  I'll do just one thing today and let you know what that is next week!

ISSE Long Beach

I'm learning quickly to step out of my comfort zone.  Most people do not know that I'm actually quite shy and, if left to my own devices,  would not interact much with others.  I do like helping other people though, and the only way to do that is for me to get uncomfortable.  Come to think of it, getting uncomfortable has lead to some of the greatest achievements in my life from having children and working through communication gaps in marriage and my personal life, to starting my own businesses and winning awards many of which take a lifetime to succeed at.

So this last weekend in Long Beach had me really out of my comfort zone.  The only exception to that would be when I was judging the art competitions.  I thoroughly enjoyed helping the competitors with critiques that they hadn't noticed or giving them instructions for competition that they had never heard before. I liked the feeling of helping people grow and learn.

Onto the notion of getting uncomfortable.  While I was there, I decided to interview as many competitors as I could on film.  They were all so gracious.  They all also agreed to be mentors on our new Nail Competition Mentor website.  So here I am once again stepping out of my comfort zone!  I have all these ideas that I want to do with the website that I've before had the chance to explore.  I find I keep reminding myself, "Put one foot in front of the other until it's finished".  So much of what I want to do is not from what I've seen others do, but rather what I imagine that I can do that's never been done before.  No stress there!  To me, that essentially is how a creative brain functions.  It goes along with the mentality of  'jump first, consider the consequences later'.  Luckily, the device between my brain and my mouth works better these days.  Could you imagine me at 18 without a filter? A ton of ideas pouring out and no experience to back it up.  I had to have sounded crazy to most.  That's assuming this little rant doesn't qualify as crazy now.  (One of the main reasons for starting this blog was to help people know the real me...I think it's working)

I did finally start using my new camera that I bought 4 months ago.  (I freeze with new technology)  I actually loved it!  These are the kinds of things I miss from fearing the unknown.  I'll post the pictures from the competitions on www.NailCompetitionMentors.com hopefully by this weekend.  It was just an all around amazing experience.

At the end of the competition came the anxiously awaited award ceremony.  There were quite a few competitions that took place not only at the show but also online.  This first award however was for the Tom Holcomb Inspiration Award.  It's given once a year to the competitor who best exemplified Tom's spirit of competition and ability to help everyone he could.  He did an amazing job at that!  Tom will always be the best known competitor in the world.  Even though we lost him a few years ago, he's responsible for training most of the top competitors in the world and his presence is still felt in their exemplary work.  I was wholly unprepared for when they awarded me with this honor.  Thank you so very much Jewell, Carla, and the Holcomb family.

I loved watching the awards ceremony from the standpoint of judge.  When we judge, we judge numbers under a black curtain.  We don't know which competitor's model we are looking at.  This makes the awards ceremony just as fun for us as we are learning who won at the same time the winners do.  I will say, Marina Lopresto was the standout winner of the evening!!!   Jewell at one point just suggested getting her a chair up there so she didn't have to keep coming up and going down back to her seat.  Well done Marina!!!  I had the chance to get to know Marina a couple of years ago at an art class we were both taking.  She is one of the most humble and kind competitors I have met.  She really left an impression on me that weekend, not to mention her skills in the class!

A New Year

This really is a new year for me as I have once again turned a corner in my life and found a need to find a new normal.  Over the past many years I have grown used to competing and the stress that it all entails.  Now, I'm only preparing for one competition that will happen in March; a stark contrast to years past! 

I have however, been preparing for this new, less stressful direction in my life.  It's still a matter of being disciplined, a task with which I have struggled. However, this discipline is different from the one I used to practice. I'm currently writing a column for Nailpro Magazine titled "Competition Corner".  In writing this, I'm able to share the value I have found in competing.  It's a value that readers hopefully will be able to take and use to flourish in their salons or perhaps even help them go into competitions while maintaining confidence. 

I've also very recently started www.NailCompetitionMentors.com, a website designed to "give aspiring nail competitors the information and direction they need to begin competing successfully, and help current competitors to reach their goals in the competition arena through the use of nail competition champion mentors", to quote the mission statement. My goal is to see any person who has the desire to compete be able to do so without having to make the same mistakes the rest of us have when we started out.  Most competitors, including myself, started off miserably in the world of competing. This is a fact that many do not know about those who make competing look effortless.  Those of us who jumped first generally fell hard.  All competitors have fallen hard at times, even the most professional ones. The whole point of the website is to try to get people past that point of failing because that is where the fear falls off and success happens!  (Re-read that last line again) So, if you are interested in competing and would like a little help, please check out the new website.  Even if you wouldn't like to compete but have questions or are generally interested in how competitions work, check it out!  

This upcoming weekend, I will be traveling to Long Beach, California.  It will be the first show I will be at without taking place in the competition in many, many years.  I'm carving out a new path for myself again and it feels odd, but refreshing.  I'll be interviewing competitors, helping with the competitions and judging.  But most of all, I'll be there to help those who want to learn in any way possible.

I like being part of something bigger.  And as the nail industry has grown, I too have grown with it and hope to continue to grow personally as an artist and as a professional.

Summers Up! Now something new...

This has been one of the most difficult summers I've ever had.  I actually missed it...and my vacation to boot.  

The end of the Nailpro Cup was very challenging.  It took over the entire month of June resulting in the Nailpro Cup Championship!  It was very exciting!  Nailpro Competitions are the most unpolitical competitions I've ever had the privilege of competing in.  I've judged there to see how they operate behind the curtain.  The only way for a competitor to say anything else would be for them to not get a critiquing afterwards by the judges. Out of 8 competitions in Las Vegas, I only won 2.  I placed in four.  The Nailpro Cup isn't about the person with the most 1st's.  It's about total scores from over 40 competitions.  This last year was full of great competitors and a very hard race.  I've been blessed with very many years of art competition experience that was able to put me over the top.

But the most enjoyment I had was when I was able to help a fellow competitor whether novice or veteran.  I don't realize all the information I have in my head until someone needs assistance.  It was with this in mind that I have decided to retire from competing and move into judging, mentoring and writing a competition column for Nailpro Magazine! Thank you Stephanie Lavery, Deb Carver and Jewell Cunningham!

I just got back from LA for a Nailpro cover shoot which will come out in November.  It's a first!!! There will be video and step by step on a new art technique.  I've also been working on new video tutorials that will be available this week!  My YouTube channel is: gelmaster1000

I would also like to thank everyone who was praying for my dad.  We almost lost him the beginning of July.  He's been making progress ever since.  He will finally be going to his own house this week! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

August was non-stop travel for training classes.  I just love the nail techs I met and got to know better.  I can't say enough about networking with other nail techs to grow in our industry.  This is also an area I want to devote more time to.  I've seen the most beautiful areas of our country and even learned to hula-hoop! (Thanks Lisa!)  I want to thank everyone who made me feel so welcome.

So next...I still need a vacation!  I will schedule one sometime before the holidays.  Then in January, I will start with my first column in Nailpro.  

This monthly article will take the mystique and preconceived fears people have out of competing.  It will have tips on what's expected, interviews with other competitors, how to's, travel ideas and YouTube tutorials on how to achieve different types of competition results.  ALL the competition tricks will be out of the bag!  There will also be a Q&A section.  

When I first started competing there were easily 30-50 competitors in every competition.  There weren't divisions.  I had to compete against Tom Holcomb and the rest when I first started.  I didn't place for a full year but what I was learning was unmatched by any class I could have taken. Recently, the number of competitors have been really low even with different divisions.

There are now divisions so that if you are a beginning competitor, you can compete against anyone who's never won.  As long as your goal is to improve your work, you will never lose.  It might be expensive, depending on where you live, but the end result is the work you will be able to give to your clients and the confidence in your work.  This is what will enable you to set the prices for your services that you are worth. You won't regret competing.  

Let me know if you have any questions as you follow along on this exciting new journey! 

Pasadena Nailpro Competitions

I had the most amazing experiences this last weekend in Pasadena, Ca. at the Nailpro Competitions.

There was a film crew there to document what goes on in the competition arena.  They did a lot of interviews and took tons of footage.  I couldn't have had a better weekend with them there.  I had never worked harder for a competition in all areas.  It resulted in 3 first places (Fastest Set of Acrylic Nails, The Longest Nail and Salon Success) and 2 second places (Soakable Gel Manicure and 3D Art).  My hardest won of the weekend was the Salon Success.  A first place in this category has eluded me for years!  I've never won it.  So now it has been won with GEL!!!

The other most memorable was the Fastest Set of Acrylic Nails.  I've taken a few days to evaluate what happened, listen and reflect.

Many people have misconceptions of what a competition entails.  There is a great learning curve involved in order to compete successfully.  I've seen the most talented nail artists fail at competitions because of this curve, myself included.  We just held a competition class last month to not only teach competition style nails but to cover these, unknown, factors as well.  Here's are a few excerpt of what we taught:

RULES AND REGULATIONS:  Always read all of the rules and regulations before you start to practice or start an art competition piece.  If there is a rule or regulation that you don’t understand, you can always contact the competition director for clarification.  You can also contact me.  If it is something I’ve already come across I can help.  If it’s new, I’ll direct you back to the competition director.

Re-read the rules just before each competition so that you don’t miss anything.


 PRACTICE SCHEDULE:   If you plan on competing regularly you will need to commit to a regular practice schedule.  Just before a competition, you will want to practice more.  Don’t just practice technique, practice as if you are at the competition from beginning to end.  Take pictures of your competed work from different angles.

The nerves do go away.  Competing will open up many doors.  It sets the standards in the industry.  Competitions develop new products and techniques.  You can be that person; the professional that starts something new.  All you have to do is take the plunge.  You’ll never know how good you can be until you try and you don’t want to spend your career wondering what you could have accomplished!


This competition was pretty straight forward with few guidelines.  They must be sculptured, have sculptured smile lines,  tips may not be used and they must be finished smooth not necessarily to a high shine.

That is precisely what I did.

Let me give you a little competition history.  20 plus years ago when I first started competing, the nails and the techniques were very different from what you see today.  That came from the likes of Tom Holcomb and many others who pioneered new products and techniques to create a better and yes, faster nail.  It was this type of vision and work that has created the quality of nail that we see in the competition arena today.  The top products and techniques in our industry came directly from the competition arena when a competitor dared to do something different.

I remember a competitor who came up to me after a competition and told me that he didn't think the competitors should be allowed to use anything in the competitions that weren't manufactured by a nail company.  I asked him where he thought all the new products came from?  I'm not sure if he actually new me at the time.

I have never encountered such behavior after a competition as I did after the Fastest Set of Acrylic Nails competition.  I had to endure accusations of cheating from a fellow competitors' support group.  Even though time was called and I was declared a winner this competitor continued until she finished.  The rest of the competitors stopped when I was declared a winner.  From what other eye witnesses and competitors shared with me, there were at least a few veteran competitors who would have finished before her.

What's worse, this competitor sent a mass email after the competition stating that she had won the world record.

All competitors will have an experience where they don't agree with the outcome.  Sometimes this happens when a competitor becomes stagnant and has been doing the same thing for years, has fallen behind and has a hard time seeing that what needs changing can only come from within.  This is always the first thing I look at when I've failed in the competition arena.  I fail a LOT!!!  I'm always asking myself:  What did I do wrong?  What can I change for the next competition?  Who might I go to for help if I can't figure it out?  Look at my past blogs.  You'll see they are wrought with failures in the competition arena.  Not one of them will blame anyone but myself.

Ramping it up

Well, it's competition time again!  I don't think I've stopped practicing since the last one in March.  This one however will prove to be different and exciting.  I don't think I'm at liberty to say why right now, but hopefully it will be in the next blog.  I can tell you this... the winner for the fastest set of acrylic nails will go in the Guiness Book of World Records!  Anyone interested in modeling for me over the next week should message me.  I'm trying to do 1-2 models a night and we're making incredible time.  The unofficial record is 15 minutes so I'm assuming that everyone will be under that time.

I'll also be doing the Longest Nail competition and beating my last record set in January of 42 3/4 inches in one hour.  I'll be asking for a table all to myself for this one!

Sunday will mark the one year anniversary of my sister's death.  I truly can't believe it's been that long.  Time flies.  I miss her all the time.  The best I can do is to share the best of her with everyone I know. She was the best.  She shone the brightest when others needed help.  It was effortless with her.  I pray that God increase in me that ability in any measure.  I love you forever, Gwenie.

New Art Technique & Competition Class

Here it is... the new tutorial for our Masterpiece Gel Paint flower art technique! http://youtu.be/WlPeZ0mdY8k  Let me know if you'd like a class for this.

We are having a ton of fun with this one!!! Remember to cure the light colors for 2 minutes and the darker ones for at least 4 minutes.  This is our April Special product spotlight:  Buy 2 Get One FREE!  Send me pictures of your latest designs.  They could end up on our website with your name and photo.

We'll be making significant changes to our website this month to reflect the direction Masterworks is taking in the nail industry.  We also have a HUGE announcement that we will be making this month as well!!! (stay tuned)

I'm very excited about our Competition Class coming up this weekend.  If you're not registered, there's still time.  Even if you're not planning on competing, there's absolutely no better way to improve your Pink & Whites for the salon.  There's still room and you can register at http://shop.masterworksbyamybecker.com/WI-Milwaukee-Competition-Workshop-MWCWS.htm

I'll post pictures from the class next week!

New Designs!!!

I had a great time in Germany at the World Championship even though I didn't place.  I did however bring back with me a new art technique that we are able to use with our Masterpiece Gel Paints!  So we are also running a special this month on them.  Buy 2 get one FREE!

This type of gel art design takes seconds, not minutes like acrylics!

Nailpro also ran a great article on us this month.  Here's the link:  http://www.nailpro.com/spotlight-nailpro-competition-winner-Amy-Becker

Next... Nailpro Pasadena Competitions!  Guiness book of world records will be there to verify the worlds fastest set of acrylic nails.  Yes acrylic.  Gel is not permitted, but I won't let that stop me from getting into the record books.  If anyone reading this is in the Milwaukee area and would like to be a practice model for me, let me know!  I'm doing as many models to prepare for this competition as time will allow.

I will also be competing in the Longest Nail competition.  I'll have to beat the 42 inch nail that I sculpted in January

Wonderland

Wisconsin is just beautiful this time of year.  I love my state and all the seasons.  Here's a picture I took coming home from the store a couple of days ago: 
I just wish I had more time for winter activities like skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating etc...  I really love them all.  

When it gets particularly cold, I do like to create in my art studio.  Here's my last 3D art I entered for the ISSE Long Beach Competitions January 27th &28th:

These are all sculpted with Masterworks gels.  No Paint!!!  

And here is Annette Calvillo.  She was my model for our winning Longest Nail Competition...42 inches!!!
On to the next one.

We've also posted our latest Mastertip!  Check it out at  http://youtu.be/egFQS6U-NIE
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