A freehand nail artist hailing out of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Halley made top 7 on Season 3 of NTNA. Originally an artist before becoming a nail technician, she has an unparalleled love for nail art that consistently grows as each day passes. Halley strives for excellence and enjoys sharing with nail techs around the world all the possibilities nail art has to offer.
Week 10: Wildflowers
Since we were asked to create an original design I opted for the red crowned crane, and more specifically I was inspired by my favorite tattoo, that I drew myself. I chose this point for inspiration because this particular crane means a great deal to me. In Korea and other Asian cultures, the red crowned crane is a symbol of good luck, longevity, purity, and peace. It’s regarded as an icon of Korean constancy, and is also a monogamous bird. Its monogamy speaks to me since I’m a firm believer in it. The crane is also the world’s tallest flying bird, which I feel is similar to me since I’m 5’11” and sometimes I feel like I can fly! (Obviously I can’t, but figuratively speaking. I’m trying to be like Mike.) The Korean pine tree is more often than not depicted with the crane since it too is a symbol of longevity and is said to ‘never die’. I secured the five nails together with five layers of top coat, and used an electric file to give my canvas a unique shape. I then covered it with white gel-polish and applied Wildflowers white chrome so the background wouldn’t peek through the gaps between the glitter, but instead the iridescence of the chrome would show through. For detailing and outlining, I used carefully placed lines of black glitter, then filled it in with various colors with a needle tool. The background is a gradient, packed on with a brush to give it a layered and opaque look that most pointillism paintings possess.
Week 9: EzFlow
Since the name of EzFlow’s new collection is Ethereal Blossom, I went for an ethereal vibe for my Avant Garden nails. I decided to create a fantasy fairy design, involving peonies, mushrooms, various leaves, and insects commonly found in gardens. I had so much fun with this romantic set of colored acrylics. Their shimmering effects that shift with movement and light blew my mind. I made the fairy kneeling inside a peony the main focus, with the index and ring finger toned down to balance the set. I placed mushrooms on the outer edges of the finished look to bring the set together, while placing little ‘pods’ on various nails to extend the cohesiveness of the set. I chose the peony as the primary flower on this set because it’s my cousin’s favorite flower and I know I couldn’t have made it this far into this competition without her unwavering support and love. The fairy’s name is Amelia (her daughter) since today is her 5th birthday.
Week 8: KUPA
After studying numerous Salvador Dalí & surrealism documentaries, I found endless inspiration for this challenge. Since I took art history in college, I’ve been an admirer of surrealism, but now, I need to thank NAILS Magazine and Elaine Watson over at Kupa Inc. for inspiring me to dig deeper into the subject. Submerged into the unsettling juxtaposition of the unexpected provocativeness of the unconscious mind, the style of Dali showed true mastery of the genre. He was a pioneer for Surrealists across the globe. To create the carved out shapes, I first built the animals on flat plastic and then attached them to the nails using a reverse French technique. I used the Manipro Passport to smooth the edges of my delicate pieces, followed by black gel outlining and detailing, and top coated with both shine and matte top coat, and embellished with Swarovski Crystals. I chose the animals with abnormally long legs because Salvador Dalí often depicted creatures with these features. He often used eggs to symbolize a rebirth (Christianity) so I decided to shade my flower head woman with a fried egg umbrella.
Week 7: Gel II
I planned on all of my theme park attractions having movable components, three being attached to windup toy components, as well as one rolling and one spinning component. The 4D palette that Gel II sent the competitors were complementary for a sweets-themed park because a majority of them are bright pops of color. The first ride that I initially figured out was The Jawbreaker, a swing ride that’s sure to break your jaw. But this ride is easy-going in comparison to the Cherry Spin, an intense spinning ride inside the depths of a dropped Ube-flavored ice cream cone that twirls you around and upside down. No theme park is complete without a Ferris wheel, which is where the Macaroon Wheel comes into play. Who wouldn’t love to see the sights abroad at the top of a giant macaroon? The next ride is for the kids, and it’s called the Cupcake Carousel. On the inside of these types of rides, kids are able to hand-spin the pod that they’re in, so I decided to make this ride spin by hand. To tie my sweet treats together — and this one is for the thrill seekers — the Truffle Express is a chocolate rollercoaster dripping with fun. On this particular ride, patrons roll down the slopes inside a giant truffle. The Sweet Adventures theme park is covered in cotton candy and dripping with decadence. All of the structures were built with Gel II’s 4D Gel, sculpted over foil and flat plastic, painted and detailed with Gel II gel-polishes, and topped off with Swarovski Crystals.
Week 6: Bio Seaweed Gel
I was so excited when NAILS Magazine and Bio Seaweed Gel asked us for an airy, breathable negative space set because that’s my specialty. My signature line work over clear nails is my number one most requested type of nail art. I chose to do a plant theme, and what’s more breathable than succulents? In my spare time I like to tend to my succulents, which is surprisingly calming. I listen to music and sit on the porch with my dog as I take cuttings and repot or freshen the soil. At night, these babies take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making them ideal for placing around the home or salon to refresh the air, making it more breathable. Sometimes during propagation, the little succulent babies sprout long, stringy, bright pink roots that are in search of soil to grow into. I used Quebec City to create my line work to represent the roots. I chose to show different types of negative space designs, one being line work over clear and the other being leaf shapes removed from a nail fully covered in gel with a clean brush and IPA. The succulents were created leaf by leaf with BSG Clear Builder Gel and attached with BSG Builder X, and I top coated everything except the succulents (since Unity has a built-in top coat) with BSG No-Wipe top coat.
Week 5: Orly
When NAILS Magazine and Orly asked the top 8 to create a set of street art-inspired nails with a pastel palette only, I thought of all the pastel street works I’ve come across. The first artist that sparked a lightbulb was PaperFrank, an Atlanta-based artist who creates beautiful, vibrant works of art — who happens to dabble in the sweet palette of pastels. To me, what’s intriguing about him is that although he’s colorblind, he’s able to render seamless works with a touch of feminism, while maintaining his manly charm in his style (that part stole my heart). He frequently incorporates massive amounts of flowers, sometimes with viciously adorable teeth, tigers, and various characters and animals. Whether it be street art, fine art, or skin art, he masterfully blends colors and concepts that have the power to attract crowds. I decided to keep the base of the nails a solid, milky pastel color with dense, dripping spray paint. As for animals, I chose to honor his tigers, which inspired me to depict my brindle pit bull (my little tiger) on the opposing hand, paired with devious flowers. The thumbs resemble spray paint cans, with one projecting a snake. I used a mixture of Orly Gel FX White Tips with various Orly lacquers, mixing and letting stand for 20 minutes before mixing again and then using to design with. I found that if these mixtures are cured for 90 seconds under LED light, there is no issue with curing as long as the mixture is primarily white gel.
Week 4: ibd
What is more heartbreaking than just a love story gone wrong? One that ultimately ends in death. The story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s relationship is one of history’s most passionate love affairs. After the fall of Caesar, the two met at Tarsus (Currently Turkey, formally Ancient Rome) and became lovers. Cleopatra bore twins and created a union between the most powerful man in Rome and the most powerful woman in the world, the Pharaoh of Egypt. To represent this, I made a scarab holding a sun (suns) with two olive branches in place of wings. The Roman public shamed Mark Antony for his relationship in the Orient with his queen, which ended in a battle at sea. After being defeated, Mark Antony heard a rumor that Cleopatra died. He was so distraught that he took his own life and ran his sword into his abdomen, and ended up dead in Cleopatra’s arms. Octavian, the leader of the opposition, locked Cleopatra in her mausoleum with plans to parade her around in Rome as a token of the spoils of war. With her lover deceased and nowhere to turn, she had an Egyptian cobra smuggled to her in a basket of figs, which she used to poison herself to achieve a proper Egyptian death. This led to the fall of Ancient Egypt, making her Egypt’s last Pharaoh. I created the lovers out of Intense White Builder Gel, with their backs to each other, both holding the instrument of their deadly fate. I used IBD Gel Polish to bring life to my set (ironic), with a beautiful sunset, monuments, and royal clothing. China Glaze embellishments were perfect for helping me show just how lavishly they lived, from a jewel-encrusted sword to the style of a legend of incredible beauty.
Week 3: LeChat
When asked to create a set of nails that represents the pairing of two things or people that go together, my mind took off in a whirlwind of infinite possibilities. Since college, I’ve admired the relationship between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, also known as “The Art World’s most Notorious Bromance.” The two were an unexpectedly odd couple, the Radiant Child and the Pope of Pop Art. Andy loved Jean-Michel like a son and they went on to create numerous collaborative works, crossing Andy’s Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art with Jean-Michel’s Neo-expressionism and visceral, politically inclined works. Jean-Michel’s masterpieces resonate with me with his edgy, deliberate enigmas, suggestive dichotomies, and the ability to marry text and image while displaying historical information mixed in with contemporary technique. The duo’s artwork is challenging to translate onto nails and into the viewer’s eyes, considering the test of creating something reminiscent of the styles of two of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s deliberate, harsh, and abrupt abstraction and configuration, as well as Andy Warhol’s iconic branding on silkprinted canvas. Instead of iconic Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola, Everlast boxers, and random text, I opted to switch it up with some NTNA and LeChat moments. When I create nails for NTNA, I keep in mind that I’ll be displaying the finished designs. So naturally, I was drawn to this interesting pairing to be inspired by.
Week 2: Akzentz
For the second week of NTNA, I was inspired by vintage Korean accessories. Primarily focusing on traditional hairpins (binyeo) and keychains/tassels (norigae). These symbolic pieces signify one’s social and marital status, depending on how fine the materials and colors are to make it. Although they’re not commonly worn in present day, they’re still reserved for special occasions like weddings, Lunar New Year, Annual Ancestral Rites, or the birth of a child. When I initially think about “Vintage Couture,” mainly Western fashion came to mind. When I thought further, I asked myself, “What else have I seen that’s considered vintage?” On occasion, I watch Korean dramas with my family and seeing these beautiful accessories holding and adorning braided hair, and they always seem to have me in a trance. Growing up, my mom and aunt had old red tassels hanging off of vintage mother of pearl furniture. The people that create these accessories are called ‘Master Artisans,’ which is essentially the designers of Korean couture. Since couture literally means having to do with fashion or sewing, it’s most commonly used to describe something high end and luxurious, especially if it’s made to fit or suit a specific client. All gel used in my design is from Akzéntz, and all crystals are from Swarovski. When I see these hairpins and tassels it brings me back to the Korean dramas that show life in Korea decades ago.
Week 1: CND
The Spring/Summer 2018 CND x Libertine nail designs leave so much room for creativity when left with the opportunity to get inspired and create. I was inspired by three nails in particular, all decked out in crystals, with one resembling a skull, another a 3-D bird skull, and the other depicting a money sign. Since this is a 2-D challenge, I opted to recreate the crystals by painting little jewels with Shellac over a matte base, and then top coating solely on the jewels. I used this same technique to add embellishment to the top of the human and bird skulls. I created giant gem nails to match the jewel-encrusted ‘glove’ that I tied to my model with leather cord, beading wire, and jump rings. I decided to add a massive amount of detail and faux crystals on the nails to complement the glove. Many of CND’s highly publicized looks were blinged out in pure decadence, which is right up my alley. The nails are doubled, having a twin on the other hand. The skull nails that CND brought to NYFW had wire extending from the nail, holding a crystal. To recreate this look in 2D form, I used negative space and black lines to depict the illusion of wire. I was also inspired by CND x Jeremy Scott, where there were matte nails accompanied by silver dusted fingers. I created a gradient with eyeshadow, highlighter, and the CND additive in Emerald Mirage to complete my look.