We had 24 viable semifinalists ready to compete to be named NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. But since there can only be 12, we gave them a pre-challenge so they could get a taste of what this competition is all about. Six would be eliminated and 18 would remain in the running.
For their first assignment, the top 24 were asked to create a 3-D design on a single nail tip using a variety of nail products based on music. In addition to the nail art, a video also had to be included. The video should show examples of inspiration and give insight into how their nails were created.
Contestant #1: Alecia Mounixay (Wilmington, N.C.)
I envisioned bright colors dancing around the nail with a girl who has her eyes closed, listening to her headphones, completely submerged in the beats and words. I wanted the music to surround the nail in the way it surrounds us.
Contestant #2: Amy Gustafson (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
I was inspired by the headphones and colors I saw right away. I loved that the headphones became something else (the script “Love”). I decided that I would have the headphones become the piece of music. I loved the curves of the photos I saw and thought I would incorporate that somehow with it going outside the nail. I love flashy so I thought the more sparkles the better.
Contestant #3: Beru Lalli (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
I took to the Internet and looked up a few of my favorite artists — females in the music industry with a distinct, strong individualistic image like Missy Elliot, M.I.A, and Kesha. Within these videos I saw a lot of color and A LOT of gold. Both Missy Elliot and M.I.A. had these dope gold chains so that’s where I got that inspiration from. Then I wanted to incorporate the old school hip hop culture by doing the graffiti background. I sculpted music notes because in one of Kesha’s videos there was a bit of an acid trip music note scene.
Contestant #4: Danielle Costantino (Lincoln, R.I.)
The first image that popped into my head when I read the first challenge was my 4-year-old son’s connection to music. I always found it interesting that without any pushing from me he had such a strong relationship with music and musical instruments. For Christmas he asked Santa for a violin. We have quite a collection of instruments now, and when he gets to choose a reward he asks to go to The Big Guitar Store (Guitar Center). For my first challenge I chose to use his love for music as my inspiration. I wanted to capture something special with my piece. My dad passed away in 2005, and he was a musician for most of his life. By adding the sky and clouds in the background, I wanted to show the strong connection between my dad and my son, although they never met. I think creativity is genetic. It can’t be learned or taught, only polished and trained. And that’s what I hope to do with my little guy, polish him into the jewel I know he is.
Contestant #5: Erica Tam (Yellowknife, NW Territories, Canada)
The first image that came to mind after reading the theme was a piano. It was the first instrument I learned to play and it also brings back fond memories of recitals! I love the piano; not only is it a timeless classical instrument, it is also very versatile. With music comes dancing and I have been dancing ever since I can remember. I decided to create a Saturday Night Fever disco dance floor. Pianos and disco floors are not really related, so I decided to call my 3-D nail art piece classical versus modern. My modern piece became a DJ turntable which is also versatile as well. I started thinking 1990s hip hop, techno, house and dub step and wanted to feature an artist. Representing my hometown Yellowknife, I asked our local DJ and rap artist, Aaron ‘Godson’ Hernandez, if he can be my feature artist on my nail art piece. Godson has been a rap artist for over 18 years and is also actively working with youth in the Northern communities, spreading positive vibes and messages. I couldn’t think of anyone better to feature than Godson. Not only is he passionate about his work and art, he is also giving back through art and music!
Contestant #6: Jarrel Baccus (Stockbridge, Ga.)
The very first thing that came to my mind was MTV videos and the way the broadcast of music videos changed the music industry. For those who don’t know the exact history, MTV’s very first music video broadcast was on August 1, 1981 for the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”. The launch of MTV’s music videos mimicked the first man on the moon, only instead of placing the United States flag on the moon it was an MTV flag instead. My 1980 semi-retro-themed nail takes you inside the music study of your favorite musicians from the 1980s.
Contestant #7: Karrie Bowers (Morgantown, W. Va.)
I chose my favorite band, Oasis, and their iconic music video for “Champagne Supernova” to base my nail on. I’ve been a fan for nearly 20 years, and their music inspired me to learn guitar as a teen. This is what really sparked the creative part of my mind. I began to write poetry and short stories, then I graduated to writing music. I performed at any open mic I could find and this cathartic artistic outlet helped me get in touch with my creative side and exorcise my teen angst. In addition, Oasis has played a big part in my adult life; I have traveled cross-country to see them, and I walked down the aisle at my wedding to a live acoustic rendition of their hit, “Wonderwall.”
Contestant #8: Kenny Vo (Richmond, Va.)
I am beyond thrilled that music is the theme for this first challenge, as music plays a tremendous role in my life. I listen to and appreciate all types of music, but it is rave music in particular that inspires me the most. For me, rave transcends beats, notes, lyrics, and instruments; it is an otherworldly force of immense energy that brings people together in unison and synergy. Immersing myself in rave music is not only euphoric and uplifting, it allows me to shed any restraints or self doubt I might have. It is this liberation that truly allows me to innovate and take risks with my designs. On a deeper level, I think this nail tip represents happiness, vitality and evanescence, which are emotions that are inevitably brought forth when I listen to rave. I figuratively blossom like a flower and come to life whenever I listen to rave, no matter how short-lived that emotion may be.
Contestant #9: Konstantina Tsihlas (Athens, Greece)
I got so excited when I read that our first pre-challenge competition was 3-D. So I decided to create a 3-D fantasy nail. The first thing that came to my mind was Lady Gaga playing piano. I admire Lady Gaga because she is a good singer, she is unique, and she is not afraid to be different and do all that crazy stuff. She usually plays piano at her concerts and it’s my favorite instrument. Ι wanted my CD case to open and have a removable CD inside.
Contestant #10: Lauren Boyd (Memphis, Tenn.)
I was quite confused when I saw the theme was music. I love music, I listen to all types and it means a lot to me. But when asked to interpret it in a 3-D nail design, it’s too much and too complicated to explain. What’s been near and dear to my heart lately is my city Memphis. My city is known for the blues scene, but the legacy that continues is unfortunately lesser known. I wanted to pay tribute to my city’s amazingly talented people by showcasing the venues in which they’ve performed, such as BB King’s Blues Club and the Levitt Shell. I was roaming about on Beale St. and saw a George Hunt painting that spoke to the city’s history and black heritage, so I thought it was fitting for the design. This nail represents history, culture, and a continuing legacy in Memphis. I’m happy to be able to fuse together music and my love for both it and my city.
Contestant #11: Lavette Cephus (Toledo, Ohio)
Although I am a late ’80s baby, I feel like I was supposed to be born in the late ’60s. This brings me to my early childhood memories when I lived in Philadelphia. My family and I were obsessed with “Soul Train”. I am the oldest of six siblings (a big family meant our own soul train fun) , and we would always pretend to have our own soul train line. I want this competition to be as fun as possible, and when I can add energy to the challenge I will and as soon as I think of the soul train I think of energy, dancing until your feet hurt, bending lower than you thought possible, laughing and fun times with others. To add a touch of calmness I thought of a magnificent singer during those times — Diana Ross, an idol — she wore a mean afro, which also reminds me of Soul Train. It seems everyone on the show wore an afro.
Contestant #12: Lexi Martone (Dix Hills, N.Y.)
I’ve done Backstreet Boys. I’ve done Spice Girls. The only things left were Eminem or Christmas music, and you’ve pretty much covered the extent of my musical enjoyments. As much as I love a Christmas nail in June, others might not share the same appreciation, so I decided to go with the latter. When I first sat down to think about it, I drew a complete blank. After a couple hours I had concocted this crazy idea in my head to make the nail actually play music.
Contestant #13: Lini Sherburne (Sparks, Md.)
I chose one of my favorite bands, No Doubt, and one of their classic hits, “Spiderwebs,” to be the inspiration behind my art. While searching the Internet for images related to the band, I saw a sheet of music for “Spiderwebs ” and immediately noticed how much the bars of music looked like the title of the song. I quickly decided that my nail would focus on bars of music that would transition into webs, ensnaring music notes within. The finished nail is bright, colorful and a little bit outrageous, all characteristics that truly describe the band’ s style as well.
Contestant #14: Marianthi Tsitsopoulou (Oreoi, Greece)
As soon I was informed about the topic of the first challenge, I knew right away what I was going to do. I had no image however, so I drew a quick sketch of my idea to start with. I wanted to express music as a lifestyle, more than a product. For that reason, I made a girl with an afro who represents the origin of my favorite kinds of music (soul, hip hop, funk).
Contestant #15: Marisol Alvarado (Stockton, Calif.)
My thoughts instantly went to my boyfriend, Carlos. He is a musical artist who is determined to follow his dreams. Then my thoughts moved on to my daughter and her beautiful voice. She too is chasing her musical dream, constantly reaching to achieve her goals with music. I started to see a vision of a hand reaching for a microphone. The cord was wrapped around the microphone in the shape of a musical note. Next I started to think how that ties into my goals and my dreams. Music has inspired me throughout my life and career. One of my passions is nails and I am continuously motivated by music. My family and I are all working together to reach for our goals and encouraging each other along the way. Carlos wrote a song for me which you will hear in the video portion of this entry. This song provides the name for this piece, Vivid Dreams.
Contestant #16: NailGurl (New York City)
Truth be told, I was going to do a nail based around my favorite band Rage Against The Machine. Then my brain kicked in (on overdrive as usual) and I realized I love so many genres of music, along with so many songs I couldn’t decide on what my actual concept would be. That was up until I thought about how music has changed (as a whole), and the devices used to play music have evolved over time. I remember the days when records were played at house parties and clubs. I also often daydreamed about my teenage years; making good use of spending hard-earned cash on cassette tapes, while breaking a few portable cassette players along the way. And please don’t get me started on those lovely holographic rings neatly pressed in plastic, better known as CD’s. Weren’t those divine? And everything changed when MP3 players invaded the eardrums of the youth and adults from coast to coast. What’s next?
Contestant #17: Nikkoal Bounds (Los Angeles)
When I got this Challenge I had a vision of a female DJ and I felt that the DJ represents me since I love all genres of music. That’s one of the reasons why I painted a diverse crowd.
Contestant #18: Nuni Torres (Kissimmee, Fla.)
For this challenge I was inspired by the 1970s. Make nail art not war. I brought a lot of color into this look trying to keep the bright tie-dye from the era in mind.
Contestant #19: Quisa Robinson (Ft. Worth, Texas)
My nail art was inspired by my love of running and how listening to music used to be the one thing that made running bearable. I wondered how I could make running into a nail without the obvious way of creating a shoe, which wasn’t very music related. My “Aha” moment came when I decided I wanted to portray the actual act of listening to music. I ran with an ear idea and would equip it with my Apple earbuds just like the ones I wear in real life. I thought for while about the zone I get in when I am running. It’s almost like the music hypnotizes me.
Contestant #20: Robyn Schwartz (Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada)
Lots of things inspired me for this nail — rock and roll was the first thing that popped into my head. Then, a glittery electric guitar, music notes, and stars. I wanted to make this a fun, glittery, rock-inspired nail. I think it turned out really well.
Contestant #21: Sherri Traweek (Redlands, Calif.)
This challenge really made me think about the bands and instruments that inspire me in my everyday life. I’ve found that it really takes the right kind of music to make me happy, and fill my soul with its daily dose of inspiration. Commercial music doesn’t offer that to me. These nails represent the band and genre that touch me the most, and play a big part in who I am. The Pawnshop Kings are a pair of brothers who, through heavy doses of Southern Soul and Southern California surf culture, spread the Gospel through music that moves you to the core.
Contestant #22: Simone Gilbert (Victoria, Australia)
Upon reading the theme for this week’s music challenge, I immediately thought back to my childhood. My Grandparents owned an old player piano, which is a piano that plays braille type musical scrolls. My siblings, cousins, and I would play for hours at a time, taking turns until our feet were tired from pressing the pedals that made the piano play. The scrolls were old and well-loved and that is where I found my starting point.
Contestant #23: Tammie Alvarado (Tulare, Calif.)
My inspiration was the Yellow Submarine from the Beatles. I choose it because when I think of music I think of iconic figures. Naturally, I had to choose them. Their choice of color variation and use of shapes really captured my eye.
Contestant #24: Yesenia Oliva (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
“Music is love in search of a word.” I found this beautiful quote and decided to use it as inspiration for our first challenge. I really like all kinds of music so it was hard to choose just one band or song. I decided to go way back and sculpt a gramophone out of acrylic. I wanted to show and remind everyone where music came from and where it all started. Every single song you listen to, one way or another is about love. My fiancé lives in Cuba 3,000 miles away and our communication is limited. Sad right? But if there’s one thing that makes me feel special and loved it’s all the songs he dedicates to me. I wanted to show all the beautiful things that come out thru that speaker that makes us feel so much.