Nail Art

Dedicated to the infinite joys of nail art and design: handpaint, airbrush, colored acrylics and gels.


Salon-Modded Nails: Award-Winning Nail Art Made Wearable

The extravagant designs of nail art competitions aren't always practical for everyday wear, but they can be amazing inspiration for wearable nail art. Learn how the industry’s top nail artists take their award-winning designs down a notch for everyday clients.

To “mod” something is to modify it for a different audience or use. In the world of nail design, nail artists often have to restrain their extravagant creations to suit an enthusiastic, but conservative, client. The result may be simplified, but the “wow” factor doesn’t have to be! We asked some of our NAILS Next Top Nail Artists past and present to show how they transform their competition nail designs into very wearable nail art.

Danielle Costantino's original bejeweled geometric nail design.
<p>Danielle Costantino's original bejeweled geometric nail design.</p>

Constantino's design retains the linework and a glittery look when modified for the salon.
<p>Constantino's design retains the linework and a glittery look when modified for the salon.</p>


Danielle Costantino, Cranston, R.I.  |  @nailsbydanielle

To create a salon-friendly version of her nails featured on the October 2015 cover of NAILS, Danielle Costantino used a few time-saving techniques. “I used Akzéntz Pro-Formance gel to fill the client’s nails.  When they were ready to polish I used Luxio Gel in Almondine, Darling, Noir, and Engagement.  Chunky Glitter makes a great quick replacement for a full crystal nail. I used a stamping plate and black stamping polish to quickly replicate the intricate line work I did for the cover. I used round rose gold glitter sequins to substitute the rose gold Swarovski crystals I used in the original. With these shortcuts I brought the design time from 90 minutes down to 30 minutes."

Celina Ryden's original Lady Gaga-inspired nail design.
<p>Celina Ryden's original Lady Gaga-inspired nail design.</p>

Ryden's salon modified nail design is still fit for a diva.
<p>Ryden's salon modified nail design is still fit for a diva.</p>

Pure Diva

Celina Ryden  |  @celinaryden

Celina Ryden’s tribute to Lady Gaga in last year’s NTNA challenge titled “Pure Diva” garnered her first place that week. She decided to keep the individual look but made it more wearable by trimming both length and 3-D aspects. Her famous “bubble nail” (right middle finger) turned into a more demure but stunning creation using small glass balls and a few rounded pearl studs. The bold stroke of lightning (left middle finger) came down a dimensional notch, too. On the latex-looking thumb, studs were topped with two coats of white gel.


Ryoko Garcia's original Alice in Wonderland-themed fantasy nails.
<p>Ryoko Garcia's original Alice in Wonderland-themed fantasy nails.</p>

Garcia's salon modifed Alice in Wonderland nails.
<p>Garcia's salon modifed Alice in Wonderland nails.</p>

Once Upon a Dream

Ryoko Garcia, Navarre, Fla.  |  @nailsbyryoko

Ryoko Garcia was the winner of the first-ever NAILS Next Top Nail Artist in 2013. Her final challenge, “Once upon a Dream” fantasy nails stole the show. “I wanted to go dramatic so I made a mostly 3-D design and used a lot of colors,” she recalls. For clients they have to be wearable, so Garcia went with a flat design. She applied gel-polish for the base and the French design. Then she hand-painted characters using black acrylic paint. The nails are finished with a matte top coat; Garcia made sure to use different colors to make them pop.

Sarah Elmaz's Picasso-inspired Mickey Mouse nail design. 
<p>Sarah Elmaz's Picasso-inspired Mickey Mouse nail design. </p>

Elmaz's salon modified Mickey Mouse nail art keeps the Picasso influence.
<p>Elmaz's salon modified Mickey Mouse nail art keeps the Picasso influence.</p>

The Next Picasso

Sarah Elmaz , Melbourne, Australia  |  @getbuffednails 

Sarah Elmaz did an amazing thing in last year’s NTNA — for the challenge honoring Picasso’s birthday she combined a favorite rendering of Mickey Mouse (by artist Tim Rogerson) with Picasso’s bold, abstract style. The results brought her in second place that week and she ended up being 2nd runner-up for the entire competition. Elmaz’ modified set kept the playful cartoonlike aspect as well as the bold colors and lines. Now, though, the palette is restrained and artful negative space contributes to the set’s wearability. Some highlights: Index finger has shapes painted and colored in with gel-polish, followed by a matte top coat. The ring finger is a negative space heart, surrounded by outlines made with gel-polish and a matte top coat. 


Danielle Costantino's original steampunk nail art.
<p>Danielle Costantino's original steampunk nail art.</p>

Costantino's salon modded nail design keeps the clock and rose theme. 
<p>Costantino's salon modded nail design keeps the clock and rose theme. </p>


Danielle Costantino, Cranston, R.I.  |  @nailsbydanielle

Costantino had so many clients request a version of her steampunk nails from NTNA S. 2 that she came up with a few different ways to recreate them. “I filled the nails with Akzentz Pro-Formance gel and polished them with Luxio Almondine. I used glitter to fill in some nails with something pretty, but easy and fast. I used acrylic to create a vintage 3-D rosette. This particular rose is very easy and quick for me to make in the salon. I used a decal to recreate the clock I painted in my original design. I also used decals to imitate the newspaper aspect of the design. I finished it off with a few crystals and watch gears. It was a cute and simple way to add some bling. It took me 30 minutes extra to do the art in this set, when the original version took me two days."

Looking for some more great art inspiration? These 5 Minimalist Nail Art Concepts to Attract New Customers will convert even the most conservative clients into nail art lovers. 

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)


EzFlow was founded in 1986 by high school friends Danny Haile and David Daniel, who originally worked as nail techs in their family’s chain...
Learn More

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today