Back in August, NAILS Magazine selected the 24 contestants who would go on to compete in Season 6 of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. Two pre-challenges sponsored by Swarovski whittled the list down to 12 in November. Beginning January 22, the 12 nail professionals mentioned here will compete each week for glory, prize packages, and a shot at the top title in the nail industry.

Season 5 upped the ante for NTNA competitors. Season 6 contenders will again be competing for a ticket to Premiere Orlando for the ultimate finale party, where they’ll meet competition sponsors, judges, and 600 fellow nail professionals. This year’s winner will also score a trip to California to shoot a NAILS cover, a cash prize, a trip to New York Fashion Week with team CND, their name on the NAILS masthead for a year, and a crystal trophy from Swarovski.

This season’s competitors come from all over the world, representing Canada, Serbia, Denmark, New Zealand, England, Greece, and the United States. Two competitors from Season 5 are returning for another shot at the top spot.

Determining the winner of NTNA Season 6 will be no easy feat. To help the NAILS team choose between these talented artists are former competitors turned judges Lauren Wireman (Season 1), Deanna Stelmaschuk (Season 4), and current champion Valerie Ducharme. Judges from our weekly sponsors include Allie Baker, Blanca Martinez, Anastasiia Morozova, Shanee Pink, Tammy Taylor, Elaine Watson, Denise Wright, and So Yong Yu. Head judge Jan Arnold of CND will remain ever so involved, meticulously eyeing each week’s creations. But finally, it’s up to you — our readers — to help by voting for your favorite artist each week to get her to the finale. Voting begins January 22.

New to this year’s contest is the Gel II Fan Favorite competition, awarding the artist with the largest popular vote from the entire season with a prize presented from Gel II onstage at Premiere Orlando. KUPA will also be recapping each week of the competition live on Facebook, starting January 2 and going all the way up until the finale on June 1.

Join NAILS, CND, Gel II, En Vogue, EzFlow, KUPA, LeChat, Mia Secret, NSI, Orly, Tammy Taylor Nails, and Wildflowers in congratulating our 12 finalists. Special thanks to American Dawn, the official towel sponsor of NTNA, KUPA, the official e-file sponsor, and Swarovski, the official crystal sponsor of the competition. Get to know our Top 12 and decide who you will be voting for when the competition begins January 22.

Introducing This Year’s Top 12:

Ashley Hoffman, The Nail Studio, Coconut Creek, Fla.
@the_nail_studio
#NTNAAshley

How long have you been doing nails? Five years.
Who is your nail icon? Bel Fountain Townsend (@sohotrightnail). Her work is so clean and her attention to detail is amazing!
I wouldn’t be caught dead without…My phone. I try to stay active on Instagram and am always researching anything new in the nail industry.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? My strategy going forward, and up until now, is to be myself. I plan to interpret and create each design while staying true to my creative style. 

Ashton Harlan, Scratch Nail Spa, Henderson, Nev.
@misashton
#NTNAAshton

How long have you been doing nails? Nine years.
How does it feel to be one of the Top 12 for season 6? Making it into the Top 12 feels like my destiny is calling.
How is this year different from the last in terms of your strategy? Competing last season gave me a better understanding of how fast paced the competition really is, and a better understanding of what I am capable of. So this season I plan on managing my time better and not second guessing myself.
You wouldn’t be caught dead without… Stiletto nails, my phone, and mints.
If you make it to the Top 3, you will…Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

Bojana Radojicic, B Lady, Belgrade, Serbia
@bojana.radojicic
#NTNABojana

How long have you been doing nails? Eight years.
Why did you want to do this competition? I like challenges and competing. This competition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be honest, I would like to visit America.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? I will stay true to myself and my style, to give the best of me, regardless of the task and its difficulty.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re … Spending time with my dogs and loved ones, or reading a book and sleeping.

Carly Snyr, Hamtramck, Mich.
@c.a.r.mani
#NTNACarly

How long have you been doing nails? Six years.
Why did you want to do this competition? I originally wanted to do this competition to push myself and see what I was capable of. I recently developed a crazy allergy to most nail products. So my motive has shifted a little bit. I now am focused on pushing myself to the fullest to perhaps put myself on a platform to network and learn about what other opportunities the nail world has to offer.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? My strategy for winning NTNA is to consider what I think the other girls may do and then do the opposite. I don’t want to do the typical or the expected. What I learned from being in the semi-finals in the past is to not just do what I think is a good idea, but consider what other people might like as well.
You wouldn’t be caught dead without … A manicure. I don’t like to have dry cuticles or unshaped nails, whether they are all painted or not. 
How does it feel to be in the top 12 of Nails Next Top Nail Artist Season 6? 
When I saw the word “Congratulations” I felt truly dumbfounded, so I chose to make that the theme of my nails. When I Googled this word, the first thing that popped up was a Keanu Reeves meme from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” I felt it was right to use his face to portray my loss for words. I also wanted to make my nails look like a meme.

Emily Nash, Natural Impressions, Elkhart, Ind.
@nailsbyem
#NTNAEmily

How long have you been doing nails? Seven years.
Why did you want to do this competition? This year I realized I needed something new in my career. I had been working as an educator for the last three years and realized it was time for a new adventure to really challenge my artistic abilities. I loved being an educator, but I love learning and growing, and I knew this competition would do just that.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique? My specialty is clean, hand-drawn art. I love bold colors and fine detailed lines. I hope to bring some unique boldness to the competition. I’m not afraid to go with my first instinct.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? I made it to the top 18 in Season 3, so I’ve been studying this competition since the beginning. My strategy for this year is not to over-think the challenges. I feel like when you read too much into the challenge, you can miss the point. My other strategy is working on my video editing skills and making sure I have fun. I know it will be stressful, but staying positive will help me get through it.
Who would you most like to meet within this industry? I have always wanted to meet and learn from Kirsty Meakin! She is an amazing nail artist and teacher. 

Jenna Jupin, Jennails, Odense, Denmark
@jennails.dk
#NTNAJenna

How long have you been doing nails? Three years.
Why did you want to do this competition? To challenge myself as an artist and to explore and invent new techniques and nail art. 
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? This is my third go at NTNA. My strategy this year is to plan well and not do bigger projects than there’s time for.
If you make it to the Top 3, you will ____ in Orlando. Relax.
You wouldn’t be caught dead without …My SolarOil. 

Jerilee Fair, Frenchy’s Nail Boutique, Hastings, New Zealand
@frenchys.nails
#NTNAJerilee

How long have you been doing nails? Six years.
Who would you most like to meet within this industry? I really admire Lena Kurach’s talent and dedication to the international competition scene. I’d also love to meet Lexi Martone because she’s incredibly talented and she also seems like a super fun person.
You wouldn’t be caught dead without … My gel paints, some foil, and a fine liner brush.
Why did you want to do this competition? I’ve followed NTNA for a few seasons now. I’ve always been blown away by the amount of talent and creativity that it brings out in people. I thought it would be a perfect way to help push me as a nail artist.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re …Attending all kinds of events and concerts or binge watching a TV series, typically while still playing around with nail art.

Kelsey Waldo,
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
@kelseysklaws
#NTNAKelsey

How long have you been doing nails? One year.
Who would you most like to meet within this industry? I would absolutely love to meet so many greats in this industry; however, if I had to choose just one, it would be Pisut Masanong. His work is absolutely fascinating and to be able to meet him would be so cool.
Why did you want to do this competition? I really wanted to do this because where I come from extreme crazy nails and nail art are not commonly seen, but that’s what entices and drives me. I wanted to be able to push myself to my limits and hopefully be a role model. I want to show that even if you’re just starting out, if you have the will, determination, and put in the practice, you can achieve so much!
If you make it to the Top 3, you will______ in Orlando. See the sights. This would be the first time I would be out of the country, so I would like to meet so many of my nail friends from around the world and many industry greats that I look up to.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique? I think that my small town attitude is unique. I have a humbleness that I do think is important when competing. 

Lorna Andrews, Padiham, England
@ninjanailfairy
#NTNALorna

How long have you been doing nails? Six years.
Who would you most like to meet within this industry? I’d absolutely love to meet the one and only Jan Arnold.
Why did you want to do this competition? I wanted to push myself to a whole other level. I wanted to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have followed along with the competition in previous years because I’m a nail addict and every time I saw the amazing, out-of-this-world creations I was so inspired, and I wanted a turn too.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique? I feel like I bring a sense of wonder to the competition. The way I create and design is quite spontaneous and unplanned. As soon as I read words or challenges I am instantly inspired and I will begin to create and jot down all of the ideas that flood into my mind. There isn’t ever a real plan as to what I will create, I just know it will always be 100% authentic and raw.
If you make it to the Top 3, you will ____ in Orlando. Slay.

Melisa Salazar, Artisan Nail Studio, Boca Raton, Fla.
@artisannailstudio
#NTNAMelisa

How long have you been doing nails? One year.
Why did you want to do this competition? I wanted to challenge myself and learn from the best. All the previous participants did such beautiful work. Hopefully I can represent all the sponsors professionally and show how their products can be used to create anything.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? To stay true to myself and create unique designs. I do not want to copy other NTNA finalists, but instead learn and study their techniques and utilize what works best for me.
If you make it to the Top 3, you will ___ in Orlando. Celebrate with my friends and ask for selfies
When you’re not doing nails, you’re … Making sure everything is operating smoothly at my salon from top to bottom.

Nixxi Rose, Southampton, England
@nails.by.nixxi.rose
#NTNANixxi

How long have you been doing nails? One year.
Who is your nail icon? There are so many fantastic nail artists that I have been introduced to via the power of social media, but Kirsty Meakin will always be my number one. Before I trained as a nail technician I was going through a pretty rough time in my life. Kirsty’s YouTube tutorials are what gave me my mojo back and set me on the path to where I am today. I bought myself an acrylic starter kit and followed her tutorials day-in day-out, until I felt confident enough to book my official training — and the rest is history. Without that push I may never have trained in nails. I hope one day I will get the chance to meet Kirsty and give her my most sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Why did you want to do this competition? I wanted to do this competition because the artwork in previous years has been outstanding and so entertaining to follow and I was curious to see how I would fare pitted against such talented professionals. I kept telling myself I would apply “one day,” then it occurred to me that I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying. Through all the “one days” and “maybes” there came a tiny little “what if?” and I am so pleased I listened to it.
You would not be caught dead without…Nails! I would rather leave my house without eyebrows than without my nails.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re…Going for a hot chocolate down at my local beach or hosting gin and Lego evenings with my sisters, or at the pub with my friends. My pets take up a lot of my time, but they are my absolute pride and joy. I have Sybil and Elphaba (and their daughter Grotbags), my three giant albino snails. Ichabod and Tituba are my White’s tree frogs and Ambrose and Hecate are my European green toads.

Stella Sampson, Stelove, Athens, Greece
@nailart.stella
#NTNAStella

How long have you been doing nails? Four years.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique? Apart from my love for detailed work, I try to have an innovative approach with fresh ideas, working to incorporate as many nail techniques as possible in each challenge.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA? I wouldn’t exactly say that I have a specific strategy other than studying all the details at the beginning of each challenge and trying to organize my time to meet the deadline.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re … Bored! I am a chemical engineer in the cosmetics industry and my favorite part is mixing colors to create new shades of products.