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The Swan: The Top 3 & The Bottom 3

Posted October 10, 2013


Challenge 4 sponsored by INM asked our Top 9 to use INM’s swan logo as inspiration for this week’s challenge. Tasked with creating a cohesive swan-inspired look on five nail tips, our contestants also shared a behind the scenes look at how they get inspired to create these beautiful works of art. From “Swan Lake” to the “Black Swan” and everything in between, see how well our Top 9 did this week.

This week’s guest judge was Juli Miller of INM. Permanent judges included Gelish’s Danny Haile and the staff at NAILS Magazine.


In no particular order, the top 3 are:




INM’s Juli: What an amazing interpretation of the swan! You thought of an angle that no one else did! I love that you did your homework and researched the company. Great job!

Gelish’s Danny: Dark yet gorgeous! The black swan! Great use of multi media.

NAILS’ senior editor Beth: This dark design stands out from all the rest. Lexi honors the film, her skill set, her background, and the challenge perfectly by mixing various mediums. These nails are like jewelry and I’d wear a big obnoxious plume as an accent nail any day.

NAILS’ art director Danielle: Outstanding! I love your video and nails of course! I like how each nail is different but still fits nicely together. Good combination of elements on each nail. Way to show us your skills.




INM’s Juli: I love the fact that no rain, storm, or flood is going to stop you from finishing what you set out to do! The nails are beautiful and if you continue to grow you will only soar higher! Great job!

NAILS’ senior editor Beth: These nails are soft, with a wide range of great color choices. I like that not every nail is too literally inspired by the swan. I applaud any artist who drives to the craft store in a storm to get their project done.

NAILS’ graphic designer Yuiko: Lauren’s work is very elegant, and I love that each nail tip consists of an abstract element of a swan. The feathers and crystals depict the swan’s grace yet the edgy patterns and brushstrokes portray a very bold and powerful attitude.

NAILS’ production manager Carla: This is a great example of variations on a theme; each nail incorporates images or colors associated with swans. I love that you used three types of feathers (real, painted and acrylic) and your anecdote about the swan and her Swarovski baby birds!




INM’s Juli: Very clever, I love all the different products you used to create the swan-themed nails. I encourage you to continue on the path you are taking in the industry. You can only gain more experience from it! Great job!

Gelish’s Danny: I like how you used the swan’s surroundings as your inspiration. Beautiful.

NAILS’ graphic artist Yuiko: The 3-D work on Buddy’s design is amazing! The clear water is realistic and it comes to life. The detailing in the swans and the lily pads flow so naturally and gracefully throughout the canvas. There’s just so much movement to the entire artwork!

NAILS’ editor Hannah: The water! OMG the water! It’s so awesome. I love your technique for creating such a beautiful setting for the swans. And the swans themselves are also lovely in their different states of rest. Would have loved to see more of the process as you created the nails themselves. Show us, while you tell us.



The following techs can breathe again. They are in the middle of this week’s pack and are safe. In no particular order, congratulations to:




INM’s Juli: You are very talented artist; it was very creative how you made your own stencils, and hand painted the swan. You need to enter more flat nail art competitions! Great job!

NAILS’ art director Danielle: Beautiful design, but the airbrushing style makes it look a little 1990s to me.

NAILS’ production manager Carla: Beautiful airbrushing and I like the not-often-seen perspective of the swan and its wingspan.

NAILS’ editor Hannah: You created a cool, unique design with your hand-painted and airbrushed mural. My favorite part is how you layered the feathers on the wings to create such a beautiful swan. The airbrushed background is a little out-of-date.





NAILS’ graphic designer Yuiko: I love that some of the swans are flying in Christian’s work — the transition of migration works nicely throughout the whole design. The intricate little daisies add a colorful touch!

NAILS’ production manager Carla: A lovely depiction of a swan taking flight and the winter wonderland scenery is nice touch.

NAILS’ editor Hannah: I love your swans and your winter concept. Very unique. Cool mix of techniques that you used to create the nails.

NAILS’ graphic designer Kim: I love the story behind Christian’s swan art. The way the nails were photographed showing the shadows under the flying swans creates the effect that they actually are flying over the lake.





INM’s Julie: Great job! I was very impressed with your hand-painted theme. I liked that you put such a personal touch on each nail. Your video is by far one of my favorites. You are very talented and personable.

Gelish’s Danny: I would like to see more dimension in Jane’s designs.

NAILS’ graphic designer Yuiko: I love her adorable swan-lings! Her idea on transformation is beautiful and touching, and the colors work nicely in the design. The feathers add some nice texture to the swans, though it’s a bit difficult to see the 3-D work on the eggs.

NAILS’ senior editor Beth: I didn’t realize part of Jane’s design was 3-D until I saw the video. I like that she stuck with mostly hand-drawn artwork, which is her signature style. My favorite video about how inspiration finally hatches. Jane always thinks outside the box (or egg)!



Unfortunately, there always has to be a bottom group. The bottom 3, in no particular order, are:




Gelish’s Danny: Beautiful light colors! Ballet was the first thing I thought! Elegant.

NAILS’ managing editor Sree: I love the custom blended colors in the background, but the details on the foreground pieces aren’t crisp enough for my taste.

NAILS’ assistant editor Brittni: Julie depicted a very cute and classical interpretation of this challenge’s theme. (Loved the ballerina!) Her demo video is also very descriptive and clear. I think cleaner lines and more precision would better complement this design/style.

NAILS’ graphic designer Kim: There’s a balance in Julie’s graceful nails, yet individuality and unique movement in each! I’d like to see crisper lines between certain colors like the swan’s black or the ballerina’s white top.





INM’s Juli: Out of all the contestants you were the only one that used our exact logo. You did a good job, just make sure you make your lines really crisp. Keep up the great work!

Gelish’s Danny: Beautiful fading!

NAILS’ production manager Carla: I like that you put some thought into the sponsoring company’s identity and history. The design clearly illustrates the idea of “Swans at Sunset” but I was hoping for maybe one or two unexpected details to take this design to the next level.

NAILS’ assistant editor Brittni: I think Temeka’s design was cohesive and really highlighted those two center swans at sunset. I like that she did her research and incorporated elements like charms and rhinestones to give her manicure a traditional INM flair.





NAILS’ assistant editor Brittni: I liked Winnie’s abstract swan design and the way she blended 3-D with 2-D art, giving her manicure a mixed-media feel. She was able to evoke swans with shapes and patterns in an understated way.

NAILS’ managing editor Sree: The look across all five nails is complementary, which is great, but, wow that fifth nail has a lot of rhinestones. If Winnie can cultivate restraint in her art, she will become a stronger competitor.

NAILS graphic designer Kim: Winnie uses so many different techniques to create these fun nails, on herself even. And I love the video! Thanks for all of the amazing facts about swans!

NAILS’ art director Danielle: I like the placement of the wings. You did a great job on creating them. They look so soft I could pet them.


Check back tomorrow to find out who won this week’s challenge and who’ll be packing up their paintbrushes.