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Dublin: 22°C Sunday 7 August 2022

A handy number: Life as a hand model pays up to €135 an hour

As part of our odd jobs series spoke to Emily Grimson, a professional hand model.

IT MAY COME as something of a shock that hand modelling is not something that exists solely within the world of Derek Zoolander. 

If you pay attention to adverts for any length of time, it becomes apparent that hands are more centre stage than you might think.

And it seems there is plenty of money to be made in a deep nail bed and a perfect set of cuticles.

Speaking to, Emily Grimson a hand model originally from Shopshire in the United Kingdom, explains that her break came when she was working on the fashion pages of a beauty magazine.

“I would have gone to a lot of beauty launches and press days,” she explains, “And I went to a launch for some new nail polishes and they were giving everyone who attended a free manicure. And so I of course had the free manicure.”

emily's hands - 1 Hands... often at the centre of things Source: Hired Hands

And the manicurists said, ‘you have such lovely hands, you should be a hand model’. I thought ‘Is that really a job?’, but then she showed me all the pictures from their campaign and said ‘you could do this’.

After sending a few pictures to her agency Hired Hand Models, Grimson set out on her current path.

Despite her success, it wasn’t something she always envisaged for her herself.

“I think it’s quite a bizarre thing to have that’s really nice. I guess I looked after my hands and I liked having manicures before, but I never thought my hands were something special,” she said.

The shoots can range from the glamorous to the more mundane.

“I do all sorts of different jobs. This week I actually did a shoot for Vogue which was really, really fun,” she said, “It was kind of a Christmas shoot with really beautiful jewellery with security guards waiting next to the jewellery to make sure that no one ran off with any of it when they went to the toilet.”

I also do some not so glamorous stuff like ironing or making coffees with the latest Bosch coffee machine.

emily's hands - 2 Hand models can see themselves getting into some awkward positions Source: Hired Hands

Interestingly, the glamorous shoots pay less than some of the more prosaic products.

An advertisement for an iron could pay £100 an hour (€135 an hour) and come with a buy-out clause that proves lucrative down the line, while a more glamorous shoot might only pay £100 for an entire day’s work.

One of the stranger things required of hand models is pretending to be someone else’s hands, something that Grimson said she doesn’t do “too frequently” but could involve a scenario where:

They would have a girl’s face who has had this really gorgeous hair and then my hands on her hair or my hand on her face. You can get into some awkward positions as a hand model where you’re pretending to be someone else’s hand.

emily's hands - 4 Emily Grimson (not pictured: her hands) Source: Hired Hands

And just what is it that makes a great hand?

“I think you can have different types of hands for different types of jobs,” Grimson explains, “So I’m in my twenties so I have a young pair of hands, but you can have older pairs of hands.”

For fashion and for nail varnish and things they like sort of long fingers with long nail beds. And that is because if the nail is cut quite short, it’ll still look quite long, it won’t look stubby. And if the nail beds are quite deep as well, that gives the nails quite a nice look.

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emily's hands - 3 One of Emily's hands Source: Hired Hands

While it is a career that depends on a bit of a genetic lottery, there are a few things you can do if your thinking of getting into the industry.

“I would say to look after your hands really well,” Emily explains, “Use protective suncream on your hands, even if it doesn’t appear to be that warm because the sun will come through. Your hands are always on display and they are the first thing that will start to age and look a bit worn I think.”

I would also say look after your nails. And even if you can’t have a manicure every week, I don’t have a manicure every week, even if you can just have one once a month or once every couple of months just to have a professional look at them and really treat them.

emily's hands - 5 Source: Hired Hands

Odd Job: Hand model

What does it pay? From £100 a day (€135) up to £100 an hour, depending on the type of job.

How many are there? Only a small (pardon the pun) handful in the UK and (we think) no one in Ireland.

What qualifications/experience do you need? No formal qualifications but an immaculately presented pair of hands.

Do you know someone with an unusual occupation for our Odd Jobs series? Email the author below.

Read: Dread being a bridesmaid? This woman does it for a living…

Also: What’s it like to eat sandwiches for a living? We asked an expert to find out…

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