In a grueling four-part finale, Ryoko Garcia from Bella Day Spa and Salon in Navarre, Fla., edged out her fellow Top 3 to be named NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. Lauren Wireman from Wildflowers nail studio in Cape Coral, Fla., was 1st runner-up, and Buddy Sims from Bella Dea Day Spa in Omaha, Neb., was 2nd runner-up.

The Top 3 were asked to create a Southern California-inspired nail mural across 10 nail tips, a set of nails that best represents who they are, and Once Upon a Dream-themed fantasy nails, in addition to competing in a live Valentine’s Day “quickfire” challenge at the NAILS booth.

Inspired by Gelish’s spring 2014 collection Once Upon a Dream, we challenged the Top 3 to create a set of fantasy nail art based on their own interpretation of the theme. Over the course of two months, each competitor spent between 75 and 100 hours on the project. Garcia created an “Alice in Wonderland” sculpted creation with characters from the story. Wireman’s “Unlocking the Dream” piece included a broken snow globe with a beautiful flying elephant. And Sims created his own “Enchanted Fairytale” complete with twinkling lights.

Ryoko's initial sketch:


Ryoko's final fantasy project:


Lauren's initial sketch:



Lauren's final fantasy project:



Buddy's initial sketch:


Buddy's final fantasy project:

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.