The results are in! After three rounds of judging and no small amount of bickering among NAILS' judges, we are pleased to announce the winners of our first annual Cover Tech Contest.

It's what they always say before they announce the winner: "The entries were all so great the judges had a tough time making up their minds." But, WOW, it's never been so true. The entries for NAILS' first annual Cover Tech Contest were utterly fabulous and the decision-making was next-to-impossible.

Still, a decision had to be made and we are pleased to an­nounce that this year's winner — whose work you can see on our cover — is Angie Perez of Siren Salon in Chicago.

We'd also like to congratulate our three runners-up — John Hauk of Dayton, Ohio, Patricia Schneyer of Commerce, Mich., and Kiyoko Ikeno of Houston — on their sensational creations.

All of these winning images survived a grueling judging process. First, our managing editor and art director screened all the entries for the basics: Is the image suitable for our for­mat? Is the technical quality sufficient to be enlarged to a full page? Finally, are the nails themselves topnotch?

After this brutal first step, only about 40% of the images re­mained in the running. Next, each member of our editorial and art staff rated each image on a scale of 1 to 5 and the re­sults were tabulated. The four highest-scoring images were then scanned electronically and mocked up as actual covers with the NAILS logo. After another round of debate and dis­cussion, and then some more voting, our winner was selected.

In addition to the winning images, these next few pages con­tain some of our favorite entries and the names of the nail techs responsible for them.

And the Winner Is ... ... Angie Perez!

Perez is the spa manager and sole nail technician at Siren Salon in Chicago, a small boutique-y hair salon that also offers its clients massage services, skin services, and nail services. She is looking to build the nail department but like many of you, is having diffi­culty finding qualified nail technicians to hire. "We are a small salon, so I am looking to hire four nail techni­cians," says Perez, "Any more than that and we would not all fit in the salon."

Perez saw the Cover Tech Contest announcement in NAILS and decided that she wanted to try some­thing new. She wanted to do something incorporat­ing Sirens colors, which are orange, blue, and aqua, She got together with the salon's photographer Dean Berdusis, and they started brainstorming, "I told him what I was thinking about and we came up with the idea of the fish in the bowl," she says. I thought it was a really cute Idea."

She enlisted the help of Tommi Scorzo, Siren's makeup artist, and his friend Dolly Belen, who used to be a hand model. With the salon backing her 100% Perez and company came up with several styles and poses, "We shot three or four different variations of the winning shot, I had another model whose nails we did with beads for a separate entry, and we shot several poses with her as well," says Perez, "We shot it at the salon, thinking we could use some of the shots as a promo for the salon,"

Perez, who has been a licensed nail technician for three years, had never done nails for print work be­fore. And her photographer had never shot nails be­fore, "He was really excited to be doing something new — almost as excited as I was," she says. Specializ­ing In natural nails, Perez gave her model a natural man­icure and polished the nails with Essie's Scarlett O'Hara. She also added a shimmery gel to the model's hands for a glowing effect for her first cover we think she did a fabulous job. So, will Perez continue trying to get her work in print? You bet, she says, "Two of my goals are to do celebrity nails and become an educator. This is going to look great in my portfolio."

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