Full Name: Lavette Cephus
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Salon: Beautè Asylum
Preferred Nail Art Medium: Acrylic, polish, acrylic paints
Favorite Nail Trend: Handpainted detailed nail art, nail bling, 3-D art, and stiletto nails

I have been doing nails for seven years, and it’s so much more than work. I have a true and deep passion for nails. I love designing nails. I’m always trying to find the next new thing in the nail world, and I’m always eager to learn more. My clients ask and I deliver above and beyond their expectations.

no image no image no image no image no image no image no image no image no image no image

Final Challenge: CND



Liberated Reality! This collection of nails is a representation of how I have liberated my imagination to create five sets of nail art that capture the spirit of Libertine. In order to do this I had to draw inspiration from the real world, my creative mind, art, fashion, and culture. Then my job was to use this inspiration to carefully sketch and plan the individual sets of nails and do so in a way that was both creative and cohesive.


For my inspiration I used the same artists that inspired Libertine’s upcoming line. Traces of these artists appear throughout my collection. The melting blocks inspired by Dali, and exaggerated shapes are reminiscent of Sonia Delaunay (her prism paintings especially). I used the character of Libertine to also guide me to create these nails. Just like Libertine, my nails are BOLD, FUN, AND ENERGETIC!


For my first set, I have named these nails “Bringing Bold.” The bold primary colors reminded me sometimes you need to go back to the basics. The nail art on each tip was painted to bring your attention closer, for it is the small details paired with elementary shapes and primary colors that really make this set look cool.


“Rebel In It” is the name of my second set of nails, which is an anagram for “Libertine.” I thought this was extremely fitting since Libertine is anything but ordinary. Libertine is not afraid to show the world how it feels, it is not scared to push the boundaries of conventional fashion, and neither are these nails. The nails, which have magnets attached can be switched to read “Libertine” or “REBEL IN IT.” The rebel screams his cause for the world to hear, but sometimes has to disguise it to protect it from enemies.


“Illumination” includes nail tips with attached LED lights that bring a bold look to this collection. Again, I took elementary shapes and exaggerated them with high-tech engineering. (I didn’t realize I was so tech-y!) I suspended additional shapes (made of colored acrylic) with fibrotic fibers to make them look like they are levitating!


The “Good As Gold” set was created as a way for me to incorporate my dream (of taking home the gold in this competition) and merging it with Johnson Hartig’s images (gold sequin, dogs, and skulls). Sitting on the first nail tip in this collection is a person inspired by Dali and Hartig. Its figure does not have any features, representing how Hartig’s designs can dress anyone from a mature 80-year-old to a high fashion model.


The last set is called “High Art.” Sonia Delaunay’s prisms are the muse for this set. This set is my way of taking art and making it wearable on nails. These designs are really my way of liberating art from conventional paintings and using it in a new way. This set was the most fun to create, with the raised water droplets and bold colors!


These nails were more of inspiration to me than anything else. In creating them I learned to take risks, and liberate my imagination and hopefully my dream of becoming NAILS Next Top Nail Artist! It was also a very humbling experience, looking at Libertine’s work showed me that you cannot afford to tame your imagination to meet other people’s expectations, you are meant to liberate it and allow it to illuminate the world!


Click here to see Lavette’s inspiration on her Pinterest board.


Click here to watch Lavette’s final video.

Week 9: SuperNail


I don’t know a whole lot about comics so I went to Google to do a little research. I found out about Harley Quinn who was the Joker’s accomplice. Then I found that she was in a group called the Gotham Girls. This included Harley, Poison Ivy, and Cat Woman. So who were they enemies with? Bat Girl. Now I had my villains and my hero. Now time to come up with a story line. Because I want so badly to be in the Top 3, I based my story around this. Three very valuable tickets to the Top 3. These are pure gold tickets with diamonds embedded in them. They are kept at Gotham City’s Nails Mag Museum. The Gotham Girls read about these pure gold tickets in the local newspaper, so they decided to steal them. Luckily Bat Girl shows up to save the day! Now the tickets will remain there for the three lucky women who deserve them.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 8: Gelish


The charity I chose is Mom’s House, which is a faith-based organization to help low-income, single moms graduate from high school, technical school, and/or college. Mom’s House created an open door that led me (a single, low-income parent at that time) down a road to success by giving me the tools and support necessary to graduate from high school. (I was intending to drop out.) My nail represents opportunity, and lets you know that you could take it as far as you like, and the balance between a single motherhood is school (this is why the baby is being carried while on one leg). I am truly thankful to my high school teacher who is passionate and caring enough to tell me about this awesome organization. If I can do it, you can do it!


Click here to see a video tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 7: It’s So Easy


I tried to think outside the box so my inspiration for this challenge was a mad scientist, steampunk history (indicating the steam powers inspiration, and 19th century feel), goggles, which are a symbol for steam punk, and its Victorian look. I have a mad scientist wearing his steampunk googles, a clock, which is in reference to a scientist who spends hours in a lab, but I gave the clock the Victorian look. The clock is set at 5 representing my hopes if making it to the Top 5.


Click here to see a video tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 6: Dashing Diva


My design was inspired by a few Versace vintage items of clothing. Anyone who knows me knows how much I am in love with the vintage look. I am always told that I have an old soul. I made the majority of my nails matte so that it could give off a vintage feel. These colors were on my inspiration, which I also think these colors say “royalty.” I did a theme of two mixed shapes — round and square — which were in my inspiration pieces.


Click here to see a video tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 5: Entity Beauty


We were asked to create a set of 10-year anniversary nails for Entity Beauty. We were given photos from Entity’s first year campaign. And were asked to create art that evokes the feeling we get when viewing photos. There was one photo that stuck out to me the most, which was the flames. So with the celebration of Entity’s 10 years I decided to create a lit candle on the thumb, flames on three of the nails and couldn’t forget the company and what’s being celebrated. These nails along with company evokes the emotion of art starting out as a small spark that turns into a blazing fire of art that can go as far as it wants.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 4: INM


The ideas of inspiration for this challenge were taken from my life, some Google images and art itself. I am African-American and my country of origin is Africa. Africa is well known for its safari and wildlife, so I decided to incorporate this into my nail design, by sculpting the country itself and adding safari life to it. This is attached to a giraffe print nail. I chose this print because of the giraffe in the safari sunset image I painted on Africa. What also comes to mind are the different prints and patterns (tribal) that are worn in Africa. I love the tribal art so that inspired my tribal printed nail. African art is amazing. It has very vibrant, bold colors and it can be very abstract as well. I wanted to incorporate a little of my life and what’s important and I found a beautiful somewhat abstract painting of a mother and child. I had to paint this and everyone who knows me knows that my daughter is the most important person in my life. This painting shows the love of a mother. Part of the African culture is very unique, women wear a turban so they can carry items on their heads. Another form of art is the handcrafted mask they wear over their face. I wanted to test this technique although I can’t wear mine (my nail is) I wanted it to come to life so I made it in 3-D and made it look as realistic as possible.


Click here to see a video of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 3: ORLY International


For this challenge I wanted to try to stick to the modern French style, which has so much variety in 2014. I really like the French manicure style that has an opaque cuticle area and a bold free edge, (example a solid gray cuticle area with a turquoise free edge). So I decided to base my French look off this style. After researching a little about LA, the fact that it is the City of Angels stuck out to me the most. So my Angel standing over the city pretty much resembles the hour glass French look with the top of her wings and head creating the moon shape around the cuticle. So here’s my C.A. (City of Angels) French Manicure


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 2: Bio Seaweed Gel


For this challenge I could not stop thinking about creating fish scales in 3-D on a nail because I wanted to challenge myself. I thought of a book that I read when I was younger “The Rainbow Fish.” So after creating the fish I had to think about what else can I incorporate into this design? I figured I would have a man catching this beautiful rainbow fish. The two nails to the right of the fish create the scene from which the rainbow fish was caught. There is a school of black and yellow fish fleeing from a shark. So this left me with one nail to create and I thought I’d add another person in the boat with the fisherman. She is spotting a beautiful treasure along the shore. This was very challenging for me because I have never sculpted with gels before.


Click here to see a video of how Lavette created these nails.

Week 1: Young Nails


So after re-sketching my design approximately five different times and attempting and finishing one design with the caption “never look back,” I was just not satisfied. My friends say I am hard on myself, but I just want to make sure I am submitting the best work possible. Then my best friend asked me, “Why don’t you use your motto you made up when you opened your salon?” This was perfect. So this design was finished in about 19 hours broken up over a few days — and with a few redo’s. So the nails I am submitting to you today are inspired by my salon’s name Beautè Asylum and my motto/caption, which is “Crazy About Beautè.” Beautè is the French spelling for beauty. I went with this because I feel like all women are pretty crazy about beauty. So to explain the nails: I drew a woman who is obviously crazy about beauty, so crazy she’s pulling at her hair with all of the beauty thoughts bursting out of her head.