Awards & Contests

On My Mind: Cover-Worthy

by Beth Livesay | August 21, 2019

Every year I look forward to our Cover Tech Contest. “How do I get a cover?” is a question I get asked nearly every day — so, dear readers, here is your chance.  Before you go to and share your work with us, here are my tips for entering a successful submission:

• Make sure your entry is vertical. I cannot stress this enough. We need room to place our logo, cover lines, and an address box, so the more room to crop an image, the better. Horizontal does not allow us the space we need.
• We need to see the nails. Even if you worked with a hairstylist, wardrobe stylist, and makeup artist, the model’s nails on a model need to be the focus of your shot. If the hands aren’t posed correctly, we may not be able to see enough of the nails you worked so hard on. At the end of the day, NAILS is about nails and it’s read by those who do nails, so the cover look needs to reflect that.
• Make sure the image isn’t too crowded. Take into consideration the background, props, and styling. Don’t let these elements distract from the nail look. Often, I see really cool cover concepts that are muddled by having too many ideas compete with each other. Scale back if you need to.
• Originality goes a long way. I understand that it can be tough to think of and execute something that’s never been seen before, but please try. If your concept looks too much like a past NAILS cover, it’s best to think again.
• Aim to inspire. Again, your cover will be seen by an audience who appreciates your education, skill set, and creative eye. You don’t need to show us elaborate fantasy nails, but you do want to share something — whether it’s the perfect C-curve, paint job, stamping, or sculpting that you  know would catch our eye.
• You don’t need a professional photographer and model. These people certainly help, but if you don’t have the connections, don’t let that deter you. Grab a client or friend or family member whose nails you love. See if you can access a more professional camera and shoot away. Remember, NAILS will do the final photo editing, so as long as the nails are visible and the concept is strong, send it in. Or send in multiple angles from a shoot to let us choose which one is best.

I’m not going to lie, cover shoots can be difficult. I can spend hours talking myself out of a design concept because I worry it’s not on-trend or has been done before, or maybe won’t translate well. Ultimately though, I gravitate toward covers that stir an emotional and visual connection. If I can’t look away from the nails and every other element complements them, I am sold. 

The deadline to enter this year’s contest is October 1. I am looking forward to seeing your entries! Above are a few of my favorite Cover Tech winners.

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