Nail Art

Dedicated to the infinite joys of nail art and design: handpaint, airbrush, colored acrylics and gels.


Behind the Scenes: A True Artist

Nail artist Vu Nguyen handpainted these amazing tattoo-inspired nails for the November cover of NAILS Magazine. Find out a little bit more about Vu and how he created the nail art.

Cover technician Vu Nguyen is no stranger to the pages of NAILS. An amazing artist, his work has been featured before in both NAILS and our sister publication, VietSALON. But once we realized he also does tattoos, we knew the perfect way to combine his artistic skills for a NAILS cover. (He’s even done a few of his own tattoos, believe it or not.)


To view a gallery of tattoo nail art by several artists, click here.  To see the actual cover where Vu's work was used, click here.

Vu, who has been doing nails for a little over six years, has actually been tattooing for about 10 years, and he’s been drawing and painting since he was small child. He comes from a very artistic family. “Growing up with a mother who did a lot of oil painting, I started drawing and painting as a child,” says Vu. “My older brother and I would always compete to see who could draw better — he always beat me as a child.” Now he’s more likely to be competing with his younger brother Robert, also a nail tech with incredible artistic skills.

Vu started doing nails when his mother asked him to be her partner in beauty school. “I liked the flowers and the art they were doing, so I decided to enroll,” he says. Now, just six short years later, he’s a member of OPI’s creative team, traveling weekends to educate nail techs across the United States. After a short stint working in salons in and around San Diego, Vu decided he’d prefer the flexibility of doing services in clients’ homes, and he’s considering agency work in the future.

No matter what he’s doing, he’s an artist at heart. “There are so many things that are artistic about nails,” says Vu. “From applying product, to doing 3-D flowers and flat art. I admit I like doing flat art the best. I am very comfortable with a paint brush. I enjoy painting anything from portraits of humans or animals, to landscapes or tattoo designs.”

So it was the perfect marriage of two loves — nails and tattoos — that inspired this month’s cover. (Vu even pitched in to help the makeup artists with the tattoos on our model’s skin.)

Here’s how you can do these nails:

1. Sculpt a set of nails using acrylic. (If you prefer to use tips, apply them as you normally would.)

2. Using acrylic paint, paint the entire nail a background color. (We used a slate gray color.)

3. With a #2 ultra-fine brush, paint the outlines using black.

4. Paint the background clouds, going from dark to light with the shading.

5. Using acrylic paints, fill in the outlined image with your desired color.

6. Optional: Apply a UV gel top coat and cure. (We didn’t want the nails to have a high-gloss shine for photography purposes, so we left this step out.)

There are many tattoo books and websites that you can use for inspiration.

Editor's Note: After the magazine came out and after nail tech Gina Silvstro posted her own stiletto Ed Hardy-inspired nails on, the nail techs on the forums challenged each other to see what they could come up with. Click here, here, and here to see more.    

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