“My endeavors into nail technology began as a pre-teen in Omaha. Even then, I was fascinated with being able to ‘transform’ nails and create beauty. Later in life my interests expanded, leading me to an artist position with a designer make-up company, and I had work published throughout the Midwest. Around the same time, the opportunity to further explore nail technology presented itself. I attended The College of Nail Design in 2012 and accepted a position at the adjoining Bella Dea Day Spa. Though I was scared (and not all that experienced) my fascination with the endless possibilities pushed me further. Being accepted as a contestant is a dream come true. I am creating art that I love and live.”
Final Challenge Part 2
With this challenge, we were charged with the task of creating a set of nails shedding light on who we are as individuals or artists, using at least two mediums. As a male technician, I choose not to wear much on my nails beyond clear gel, so I wanted to create a set that I would wear. This wild design gives you some insight as to who I am on the inside! Being able to create this kind of art on clients allows me to share who I am and how I feel (even if that doesn’t always show on the outside)! My personal style is somewhat casual and comfortable (for work), but my designs are usually the opposite. I wanted each nail in this design to be different, showing my eclectic tastes and personality. I also tied in my favorite color (orange) and some loose stones from costume jewelry of mine for an additional personal touch.
Throughout the competition, I wanted to show many different aesthetics in my designs, so I opted to create a blingy and edgy design for this challenge. I knew I also wanted to see my name on a nail and loved the idea of handpainting some graffiti. Other handpainted fashion details were added as well. A sculptured acrylic rose, loose pigments, 24k gold foil work, and gel inlay techniques were also used in this design. I completely love all the metal spikes, studs, chains, and other embellishments you might see on a reigning pop diva. These elements created a fun and stimulating design. No surprise, these nails have turned heads all over Omaha! Overall, I wanted my design to be loud and proud just like a diva, and how I feel inside!
Final Challenge Part 1
I had so much fun with this Southern California mural; it almost felt like I was taking a vacation while creating it! I wanted to mix things up by doing a vertical mural for this challenge, depicting a “map” of Southern Cali with many details specific to the region. I chose a wide variety of iconic images, as I tried to be all-inclusive with this mural. Sit back and relax as we cruise down the coast!
To the north you will find Santa Barbara, where the Surf Museum is located. As we move south, you find yourself in the Hollywood Hills with Grauman’s Chinese theatre nearby. The end of Route 66 can be found near Los Angeles, as well as LA’s beloved Dodgers. Next on our journey is none other than Long Beach, which will be hosting NAILS Next Top Nail Artist finals! After the finals, I hope to hop on over to nearby Anaheim for a trip to Disneyland. Further south of the Magic Kingdom a luscious orange representing “The OC” awaits you. The Sea World and Lego Land logos reside near my representation of the Santa Ana mountains. In San Diego, you will find the logo for the city’s ultra-famous zoo. I couldn’t neglect the state’s connection with Mexico, so I made sure our Latin American brothers and sisters were represented in this mural as well. Finally, in the Pacific Ocean, the compass points you back north toward Catalina Island.
Unfortunately for now, the ride has come to an end — but only until January. I hope you enjoyed your journey and please stay seated until the ride has come to a complete stop.
Week 10: OPI Products
For this challenge I wanted to create a mural for Mariah Carey in which every detail is specific to her — it was created solely with polish! I wanted to encompass all that is Mariah and wanted each detail to be personal. Using the seasons as my backdrop made it easy to incorporate many different elements. I started by creating a color-fade that would work for any season, mimicking the sky. A fine shimmer top coat was added for sparkle, which also doubled as snow in the winter scene. Next, I painted a large “Family Tree”, which created a perfect transition for the seasons. The tree has Mariah and her husband Nick’s initials etched into the bark. The first two leaves in their own family have been added with their children’s initials nearly hidden in their natural setting. Spring was the perfect setting for her iconic butterflies. These were created with polish on a form, then cut to shape, and finally painted to create unique designs for each. The rainbow came straight from the studio album and added color and fun to this part of the design.
The changing leaves take us to winter where music dances on the wind. With all of her amazing holiday songs, the winter season could not be overlooked! A cartoon likeness of Mariah was painted to pay homage to her “Heartbreaker” video, as well as her and Nick’s Christmas cards. Mariah holds one of her five Grammy awards in her hand. Christmas ornaments and snow were added to set the holiday mood.
The thumbs were tricky to tie into this design. Ultimately I decided I wanted the thumbs together to create a small mural of a butterfly. Mariah’s initials were added in the detail, as well as her signature bling. Overall, I wanted the set to not only scream Mariah, but to be extremely personal as well. Adding specific details to her is what made the design fun, intricate, and a one-of-a-kind mural just for her and her family! Creating personalized art like this is probably my favorite part of what I do!
Week 9: CND
I immediately chose The Blonds S/S 2014 collection as my inspiration. I sketched several designs that I LOVED, but could only submit three. Only one original sketch made the cut! We were also challenged to use unconventional materials/techniques, which I did on each nail. The final three designs are as follows: Bionic, Reptilia Peacock, and Squared.
The Squared Design may be my favorite. As my other two nails were bright colors, I chose a black and white shirt dress for my final inspiration. I knew the color of the tape from a VHS was perfect and thought it would be a great element to add! The garment had many sizes of black metallic squares, which I recreated from VHS inlayed in gel. I wanted the squares on my nails to move just like the elements on the dress, so I made moveable pieces on my nail, too!
The inspiration for the Bionic nail came from CND’s Design Lab’s Bionic Shield design and from the collection that had garments with wiring and metal details. David Blond sported a shirt similar to my nail. I loved the round center piece of his shirt where his heart is. The bright colors that fit with CND’s color projections were fab, too! Wiring and striping over a dark shimmer created a fun base for this nail. I used an eyelet to create the center casing for the “heart” and added a gear. Other 3D elements from a watch finalized this bold Bionic look.
The inspiration for Reptilia Peacock came from a stunning blue/green scaly ensemble. The Design Lab created a sister look to my final design in white. I used bright sparkly layered gel lacquers to create a fade toward the center of the nail, making the arch pop. This technique also created a holographic look. For an unconventional element, I used a hole punch to create scales. A change in angle creates different colors and shapes to this design, bringing it to life!
Ultimately I wanted to create fun, abstract, and unconventional designs, just like The Blonds. I believe my designs fit the bill and easily fit in with their stellar collection!
Week 8: Misa Cosmetics
For this week’s challenge I chose the very popular dusty blue green color by Misa Cosmetics cleverly named Dirty Sexy Money for my theme. For this challenge I wanted to use the fashions from the popular TV series “Dirty Sexy Money” as my inspiration, bringing current prints and trends from the runway to this design. The ensembles from the series seemed never-ending and were always current and high-end.
I chose textiles and trends from fall 2013 to create this eye-catching design. Mixed prints and contrasting colors are everywhere in fashion currently and I wanted the nails to be as outspoken as some of those ensembles. I used black and white accents mostly, as it goes with everything, but added a pop of red as I loved the high contrast. A few gold accents were added for a touch of shimmer, and shadowing was added around stitched details to give depth. I also added a runway model to bring the design home. Ultimately I am also very proud of the custom color I created to match the original Misa polish color. I mixed colored gel lacquer for a perfect match on my natural nail model. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite element of this set and I love that each design doesn’t seem to compete with the others. Each print stands on its own, but also fits in as I kept the added colors to a minimum. My Dirty Sexy Money design encompasses so many aspects of the fashion industry that I believe parts of, or the whole design, could work for any woman making them catwalk ready at a moment’s notice.
Week 7: It’s So Easy
I would say that this was by far the most difficult challenge to date! To only be able to pick the brush up three times seemed nearly impossible! Then I took myself back to when I first started doing nail art and what I looked for in a design. I wanted designs that were easy, somewhat intricate, and had a pop ensuring the design would be noticed. I believe my design for this challenge has those elements and new artists could create and personalize this design easily. I chose to create an asymmetrical silhouette design to complement the Halloween season.
Since the design was simple, I really wanted the base color to make a statement as well. We all know the typical Halloween colors most use…so I chose a true yellow instead. I decided to create a Halloween scene instead of an icon on my nail. My three strokes included the setting sun, a graveyard, and a tree. I thought about how this design could easily be tweaked with other colors for a night scene, how other details could be added easily for more intricacy, and finally how the design could be made into a mural for a full set quite simply. Otherwise you could add a few leaves, some other fall colors, lose the headstones, and then you would have a fall scene!
I hope my Graveyard at dusk makes you feel like you are in a Halloween scene of your own in which something spooky could happen at any moment! BOO!
Week 6: Orly
Editor’s Note: Make sure to click on the second photo below to view Buddy’s vision of his day to night French nail design!
Oui! Je parle français très bien! I was very excited about this challenge as the French manicure is a technique I use on a regular basis. I spent a long period of time sketching and researching for this challenge as I wanted to ensure a unique and original design. I look at the French manicure as an art form of its own that can be worn with anything. We also know that there are competitions just for pink-and-whites. Knowing these things about the French manicure, I chose my design very carefully.
I wanted to stick to the core ideals as requested in the challenge. I sketched many designs initially and followed up the final stages of creating the design online, as to ensure I was not copying another artist. I came across a very colorful design called the “hourglass” nail that had an element similar to my original design. I chose to stick with this idea as the hourglass nail was a popular trend this year, and a French version would work for anyone. I did not copy the design, but I wanted to tweak it into a French manicure, which covered the lunula like a reverse French but allowed me to create a wing-tipped shape at the smile line. I love the vintage feel, but the design is certainly modern enough to make people notice! I used gel lacquer for my natural nail model. I stayed true to the natural pink base with the white free edge, but wanted to add a fine shimmer and barely there color fade for the pink base. (Notice zone one is a more pigmented pink then zone three.) I created an hourglass shape up to the smile line, and connected the hourglass with the French itself. I added a single pink Swarovski stone instead of clear to add a bit of color and fun!
I believe my Hourglass French Manicure is professional and playful, but holds true to the original ideals in which anyone who wears a French manicure can easily transform her look without worrying about her nails!
Week 5: NSI
Though I love the nostalgia of the ’50s, I wanted to dig deeper and find something that had been all but forgotten. I wanted to bring to light something iconic, yet unexpected; and I hope my design not only takes you to a different era, but a different place. My design this week is inspired by the Tiki Culture Craze that EXPLODED in the 1950s.
After much research, I want to share a few facts about how Tiki Culture came to be. World War II Veterans were returning home as the ’50s breached the horizon. “South Pacific” started on Broadway at the end of 1949, giving many a glimpse into the romanticized version of an exotic culture. The show toured for years and was also became a movie in 1958. All the while, the U.S. was setting the foundation for Hawaii’s entrance into the Union in 1959. With air travel and America’s curiosity of South East Asia, these influences became undeniable.
Throughout the 1950s tiki bars and lounges popped up everywhere, allowing an exotic escape for anyone. Tiki culture influenced fashion prints, marketing, home design, and more throughout the decade. With all of this wonderful inspiration, I was hooked like everyone else in the ’50s (and those who still follow tiki culture today)!
Ultimately, I chose to recreate textile prints on my sculpted nails. The black and most other colors came from the vintage fabric. Using these colors honored the design, but also gave it an edge. I wanted to modernize and bring the design to life with gel lacquer and acrylic 3-D elements. I loved the opaque print, but added a few Swarovski elements for a touch of sparkle. Other abstract elements of nature were added to keep the tropical feel alive. Lastly, to pay homage to the lounges and the iconic drinks they created, I added a sculpted gel cocktail glass with my abstract tiki man. I hope all of these elements take you to paradise as we near the halfway point of NTNA. Let’s cheers to our WWII vets, tiki culture, the 1950s, NSI, and NTNA!
Week 4: INM
Click here to watch Buddy’s video about his inspiration and process for creating this design.
Week 3: Gel II
I was so excited when I received this challenge! I am an Omaha native and I love living here. Much like Gel II, I have great pride in my home and it’s wonderful knowing they are my neighbor to the south.
I started with images of eastern Nebraska on the right, and western Nebraska on the left, as Lewis and Clark would find it today. Though much has changed since their initial venture, the west still shows many signs of the past, like Chimney Rock. Downtown Omaha, showcases architecture like the First National Tower, Woodman of the World, and the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge, all nestled on the Missouri River. If you look closely, the Omaha logo and the year of Omaha’s establishment in 1854 can be found in downtown Omaha. Moving west, there is a sign for Rosenblatt Stadium (the original host of the College World Series) next to the World Famous Henry Doorly Zoo. The Desert Dome of the nation’s best zoo is proudly displayed in the sunset. The Union Pacific train takes you from its headquarters in Omaha to the capital of Lincoln. The capitol building itself stands tall in the sky with the seed sewer atop it. To represent the agricultural areas and to punctuate their importance, micro fields encompass the capital, flowing onto the next nail like the rolling fields of Nebraska. Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is Nebraska’s pride and joy, Memorial Stadium. In the heart of Husker Nation, I have recreated the “Red Sea” stadium and famous balloon release. Each detail was handpainted with acrylic paints, including the fading sky. There are many wonderful things in Nebraska, and I wish I could incorporate them all, but my hope is this design shows the beauty and opportunities Nebraska has to offer!
Week 2: Entity Beauty
The definition of mysterious is described as “difficult to understand or identify,” followed by synonyms like “puzzling, peculiar, or secretive.” I took in the definition’s meaning and came to the conclusion that one of the most intangible and difficult things to understand is LOVE. A famous movie actress once said, “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” With these wonderful inspirations I created a “Secret Admirer” look. I wanted the design to not only be playful with color, but in style as well. It could be said that this look is for a girl with a skeleton or two in her closet. Nevertheless, the look punctuates the question every man will be asking, “Who is that girl!?”
Week 1: Dashing Diva
The white background in the design is to be interpreted as a clear base exposing the natural nail. I made the choice to expose the natural nail as I wanted to pay homage to some of Dashing Diva’s designs that share the same element. I tried to encompass all of the Spring Trends in my nouveau/deco jewelry-inspired design. The jewelry pieces are from both the Art Nouveau and Deco eras. I tied in natural elements with metals and opal stones, which were very popular at the time. I chose Fire & Ice Opals to bring bright “neon” color to the design. Some of the pieces have a floral/natural feel and I used the micro-chain to mimic a lace or lazer cut background. The design was fully hand-painted with each piece of mylar/glitter being perfectly placed much like the stones used in these jewelry pieces. Elegance, class, and whimsy can be felt in this design that is meant to sparkle in the summer sun!