The Top 12 for NAILS Next Top Nail Artist celebrate in a no-rules round, showcasing each artist's creativity. Please join NAILS and top sponsor CND as we congratulate these 12 finalists who will be competing for your vote starting September 12.

Learn more about the competition at ntna.nailsmag.com.

Liina Leino (Helsinki) @kohokukkia

Who is your nail icon?
Lexi Martone. Her skills in painting characters are out of this world.
Who would be your dream client?
All the playful weirdos in the world; I love strong personalities and challenging themes on nails.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
Every competitor is unique in their own way, but my work is really pure and consistent in style.
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
I took a part in a Finnish TV series called Summeri. I made My Litte Pony-themed gel-polish nail art for Siiri, a 13-year-old girl. She was really sweet and shy. On the next day her mother contacted me on Instagram, thanking me for encouraging her daughter. That made me realize my influence on these young followers.

Liina Leino (Helsinki)

Liina Leino (Helsinki)

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Deanna White (Fairview, Alberta, Canada) @deanna_dawn_white

You wouldn’t be caught dead without …
My favorite paintbrush, sticky tack, form paper, and my little 3-D acrylic brush. 
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
I bring a quirky small-town fashion lover aesthetic. I believe my fashion / backwoods town experience gives me a different and unique set of eyes for the competition. 
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
My strategy for winning is to stay true to myself and to choose sets that I’m passionate about doing; and to be kind and play with integrity.
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
My proudest moment in my nail career is when I made Nails Next Top Artist Top 12. It’s been a goal of mine since I started nails almost three years ago. I made it a little further each year and now I’m in the top 12!

Deanna White (Fairview, Alberta, Canada)

Deanna White (Fairview, Alberta, Canada)

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Liza Waitzman (San Diego) @dasnailhaus

You wouldn’t be caught dead without …
Dope nails! So basically, I should be dead right now because my nails currently are ratchet. I blame this competition, but it’s worth every ugly, sad nail that I am currently rocking.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
Go with my gut. I tend to overthink things a ton but I need to be true to myself and just hope for the best.  
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
This, right here, right now.  I’m such a big sap, just typing this puts tears in my eyes.  I’m just so stoked and grateful.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re …
Honestly, I work seven days a week and only take random days off so when I do take a day off, you can find me throwing bones (playing Dominoes) in the backyard, drinking whiskey, and possibly taking a dip in the pool. Best day off ever.

Liza Waitzman (San Diego)

Liza Waitzman (San Diego)

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Tracy Vinson (Forest, Va.) @mobilemanicurist

Who is your nail icon?
My nail icon would have to be Lauren Wireman. I don’t know how she manages everything she does, but I see a lot of myself through her. When I’m around her, I’m inspired to be more and to do more. 
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
I do not have a strategy to win. I am, however, a fighter. I live every day of my life with the challenge of fighting an aggressive form of Crohn’s Disease. For me to have gotten this far is such a testimony to how badly I want to be here. I’ll strive and push harder with each challenge to make it better than the one before. 
What challenge are you most looking forward to/afraid of?
I guess I’m looking forward mostly to be able to grow as an artist. I am afraid of acrylic nails though. I’m not as well versed in that area. 
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
I feel that my overall vintage/retro style is one that’s set apart. It reminds us of simpler times, yet keeps the style fresh and alive. 

Tracy Vinson (Forest, Va.)

Tracy Vinson (Forest, Va.)

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Jonny Pham (Sydney) @jonnydieppham

Who is your nail icon?
There are so many amazing nail people that I look up to and take inspiration from. To choose one would be a detriment to others. It’s far too difficult to choose one individual. Anyone who takes pride in what they do in this industry deserves to be respected. 
You wouldn’t be caught dead without?
I couldn’t go without my nail art brushes and my Swarovski crystals.  
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
Quality. No matter what the challenge, how hard it may be, no matter the timescales, the underlying strategy I have is to provide and deliver quality. My ideas will always be unique, thought-provoking, exciting, and adventurous, simple but exquisite.
What is your proudest moment as a nail tech so far ? 
My first entry into the technical categories and competitions on the Sydney Nail expo floor, now known as Nailympia Australia, was my proudest moment. That was a watershed moment and a huge step for me because at the time, it was outside of my comfort zone. The fact I did that made my family proud too, and that was an additional feeling of pride and satisfaction. 

Jonny Pham (Sydney)

Jonny Pham (Sydney)

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Tracey Lee (Eindhoven, Netherlands) @traceyleenails

Who would be your dream client?
My dream client would be Oprah. Not only would it be an honor to get to do even a gel-polish on her nails, it would also be an amazing opportunity to sit in the same place as someone with so much life experience and wisdom. It was Oprah who said, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
I guess when you take a South African out of the bush and place them in the flatlands of Holland, just about anything can happen, and I think that is what is unique about me. I am not afraid of putting myself out there and sharing my personality, knowledge, experiences, and skills with anyone willing to look and listen. I enjoy sharing things in an educational and humorous way, so when doing my videos I make sure to have fun so that those watching enjoy it too.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
My strategy is not only to inspire other nail technicians, but also to push myself as a nail technician to improve each week. We never stop learning so this is the perfect opportunity to put this lesson into practice!
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
I believe my proudest moment is getting into the Top 24 of this season’s NTNA. This has been a dream of mine for a while now and I have been watching the last couple of seasons in awe! I decided to give it a go and was totally blown away when the email arrived. Each step closer is an added bonus!

Tracey Lee (Eindhoven, Netherlands)

Tracey Lee (Eindhoven, Netherlands)

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Katey Laurenson (Auckland, New Zealand) @embellishednailsnz

Who is your nail icon?
I have many, but Kostka Bojana for her extreme shaping and amazing photographic nails.
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
My train of thought and the way I approach each challenge. I don’t have one particular style of art that I favor, so each challenge may be very different from the next.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
No, Im just setting goals for myself with each challenge as it happens. As long as I bring the very best of myself to the competition, I’m happy.
What challenge are you most looking forward to/afraid of?
I’m looking forward to pushing myself and seeing what the challenges are and getting to do some not-so-standard salon nails. I’m not looking forward to being on camera, so it will be interesting to watch.

Katey Laurenson (Auckland, New Zealand)

Katey Laurenson (Auckland, New Zealand)

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Cate Widemire (Wickliffe, Ohio) @catewmire

Who is your nail icon?
My nail sister, AthenA Elliott. In the few years that I have known her, I’ve seen her do extraordinary things for our industry. She will share one of her ideas with me, then next thing you know it’s happening.
What do you bring to the competition that is unique?
I have a photographic memory, so that helps me see pictures in my mind and I am able to bring them to life when an idea emerges. I can come up with a plan without drawing it out on paper so I can jump right to the fun of building the nail art.
What challenge are you most looking forward to/afraid of?
I am looking forward to the first challenge in September, but at the same time it scares me. The Season 4 group is full of strong competition, so I know I will have my work cut out for me to stay in the running. We all are all in for an incredible journey.
What is your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
I look back to being an employee, working long hours for someone else and thinking, “I want to be my own boss.” As of today, I have opened my own salon and have employees that I encourage to follow their own dreams.

Cate Widemire (Wickliffe, Ohio)

Cate Widemire (Wickliffe, Ohio)

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Trisha Johnson (Shelby Township, Mich.) @nails_by_trishjohnson

Who is your nail icon?
I only knew of one amazing product when first getting my nails done 25 years ago, which was CND and their Solar Nails, and since then always had a vision of wanting to become an artist who would make them proud. So, of course, Jan Arnold is my icon for making this industry stronger and stronger, and continuing to bring the latest and greatest to all of us artists and clients.
You wouldn’t be caught dead without…
My toes having gel-polish and my eyebrows waxed!
What do you bring to the competition that’s unique?
 My ability to work with all mediums and my huge smile.
What challenge are you most looking forward to/afraid of?
The Top 3 challenge!

Trisha Johnson (Shelby Township, Mich.)

Trisha Johnson (Shelby Township, Mich.)

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Amber Dunson (Bossier City, La.) @amberdidit

Who would be your dream client?
Without a doubt my dream client is Miranda Lambert.  I am a huge fan of her music and of course she has great style and loves her nails done.  I think we would have a lot to talk about.
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
My strategy is basically to keep my work as neat and crisp as I possibly can. 
What challenge are you most looking forward to/afraid of?
I love 3-D fantasy art so those challenges will be a lot of fun.  My biggest thing I’m going to have to overcome is the videos. I am not a fan of hearing myself  so that is definitely going to be my biggest challenge.
When you’re not doing nails, you’re …
When I’m not doing nails I’m a mom and a wife. I have been married for 16 years and we have 3 amazing kids and they all keep me pretty busy.

Amber Dunson (Bossier City, La.)

Amber Dunson (Bossier City, La.)

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Dana Cecil (Dover, Ohio) @dana_nailjunkie

Who is your nail icon? 
I could choose so many present day nail icons, but I’m going to go with Tippi Hedren. I choose her because she represents all the techs she gave a career to. 
Who would be your dream client? 
Gwen Stefani.  I’d die to do her nails just once.  Hopefully she sees this!  Hey Gwen! 
You wouldn’t be caught dead without …
My eyebrows filled in! 
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far? 
This competition!  I have worked so hard over the past three years to shove myself through the door of NAILS magazine. I’m happy to be recognized. I take pride in serving my customers great nails and respect. To see how much support I have for this competition from my friends, clients, and family shows me that being kind pays off. 

Dana Cecil (Dover, Ohio)

Dana Cecil (Dover, Ohio)

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Lisa Bennett (Bakersfield, Calif.) @lisa.b.ivystar

Who would be your dream client?
Rather than choose famous fingers, I’d say my dream client is the one who re-schedules religiously, is rarely late, always more than satisfied with their service, and tells tons of people  who are just like them about me.  
What do you bring to the competition that is unique? 
I pride myself on thinking creatively to make what I need with what I have. I have a strong analytical mind when it comes to creativity — just don’t ask me to do math.       
Do you have a strategy for winning NTNA?
My strategy is to focus within  myself and  to push my own limits. I try to avoid seeing what others are doing while I am working, so I sometimes avoid social media while I’m in the middle of a project.
What’s your proudest moment as a nail tech so far?
Besides graduating from Beauty school  twice with a 28-year career (in a different field)  in between diplomas, my absolute proudest moment was getting handed my license.  I will never forget that day. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

Lisa Bennett (Bakersfield, Calif.)

Lisa Bennett (Bakersfield, Calif.)

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