Working under the moniker This Is Venice, Paris-based nail artist Lili Nguyen has gained an international following for her colorful graphic nail art. Sites like Buzzfeed and Complex have cited her as one of the best nail artists in the world and her designs have even caught the attention of Kylie Jenner, who featured Nguyen on her app and website last year.
Nguyen first discovered nail art in 2010. She saw a few designs on Tumblr and decided to try it out for herself. At first, it was a hobby. She worked as a salesperson and practiced on friends and family. But they told friends (who told more friends) and eventually it grew into a second job. After work, Nguyen would meet clients at Starbucks, pick up coffee, and find a table to do nails. (No license is required in France.)
“I wasn’t doing any manicure services — just regular polish nail art,” she says. “It was fun!”
A few years later, she was approached by a public relations agency representing beauty brands to work at an event. Nguyen got along with the agency staff so well that she ended up moving in to their showroom, where she opened This Is Venice, a nail art studio where she “pimps” nails regularly.
When opening This Is Venice, Nguyen drew inspiration from Los Angeles, which she’s been obsessed with since childhood. A self-professed “Cali girl at heart,” she considers Venice Beach one of her favorite places in the world. The small studio is covered in colorful art and decor that channels Los Angeles, and her nails reflect the same fresh, fun attitude.
Most of Nguyen’s nail art features bright colors, geometric shapes, cartoons, and, her personal favorite, line work. She often works with negative space and 3-D designs as well. “I’ve lost count of how many marble nails I do in just a week; my clients are crazy about it,” she says. “It was actually Donne Geer from Hey Nice Nails [in Long Beach, Calif.] who taught me how to do it.”
At This Is Venice, there is no typical client. Some are eccentric and love the intricate nail art, while others have a Parisian style and prefer more classic nail styles. Her clients come from all walks of life, but Nguyen says that the connections she’s made with them are what makes This Is Venice unique.
“I have men and women, dancers, teachers, designers, high school girls, and moms. They’re all very different and fortunately many of them have become very good friends of mine,” she says.