While on a recent visit to the United States, Michiko Matsushita (right) came to the NAILS photo studio and painted a series of celestial designs that she has been working on for this month’s cover.

It is not easy being a celebrated nail artist in Japan. Michiko Matsushita had a great year in 1999. She won first place in three separate categories at Creative Nail Design’s Global Summit 1999, including Creative on the Edge, Decorated Hands and Feet, and Total  Look. At ICE/Los Angeles 1999, she was named International Master in Nail Aritstry. She also took first place in Sculptured Nails at both the Midwest Beauty Show and IBS/New York, as well as first place in Flat Nail Art at the IBS/ New York and ICE/Los Angeles. By the time she returned home to Japan, Michiko was well on her way to becoming quite a star.

Just three years after entering the nail industry, she is celebrated as one of the top nail artists in Japan. She fulfilled her dream to open her own salon, Le Soleil Nail & Esthe in Tokyo, in February of this year, and she recently launched the salon’s website (www.le-soleil.net). She appears frequently on TV shows and radio programs in Japan as an expert nail artist. Several well-known popular fashion magazines regularly feature Michiko and her works, including La Vie de 30 ans, Cosmopolitan Japan, and Voce. She also writes weekly articles as a beauty expert for several Internet magazines including Girls Gate. com, which is very popular among Japanese young women. Michiko is also a member of the Global Nail Exchange Artistic Committee.