Full Name: Dana Cecil
Hometown: Newcomerstown, Ohio
Salon: Nail Junkie
Preferred Nail Art Medium: Acrylic paint/art paint
Favorite Nail Trend: Ombre & fine line art

I’m 32 years old, and have been a licensed nail tech for 12 years. I’ve been a non-stop nail artist since the first set of stick-on nails my mom bought me at the store. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been creating art. I come from a long line of creative minds. I am a perfectionist who strives to do my best at everything I create. I love a challenge, and prefer to have art in every aspect of my life.  I truly enjoy networking with other nail artists who feel the way I do about nails, so this competition is going to be amazing.  Next Top Nail Artist means so much to me. This was my third year entering and the third time is the charm, so I am going to make it count!

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Week 6: Artistic

The Artist Within

What being an artist means to me is living with creative awareness throughout my daily life.  I see art everywhere. My mind is constantly creating.  Nature helps me to live carefree, in a creative world. I love the way I feel so free when I’m outside taking a walk in the woods, or visiting with my sweet squirrels.  Being an artist is not a label. Anyone can create art. To quote one of the greats, Vincent Van Gogh, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”  This is truly how I feel. When I think of what it means to be an artist, I am overwhelmed with a sense of pride and happiness. I am proud to continue the gift of creativity that is in my family genes, and art makes me so happy. A dream-catcher is meant to filter the negative, and project the positive.  That’s what art does for my life, as well as the lives of the people I create art for. So that is the idea behind my design. The friendship symbol seen on the hoop itself represents my clients, who I create art for. The carefree bird symbolizes lightheartedness; it represents my artistic, carefree sense of living. The feather represents myself. Native American feathers were given as a sign of respect and honor, and also symbolize freedom, power, wisdom, trust, and strength. Native Americans believe that the earth is alive and that all things, no matter how small or apparently inanimate, are precious. To the Native Americans, turquoise is life. The turquoise cabochon I created represents my ability to see art and life in everything.

Click here to see a video diary of Dana’s nails.

Week 5: Akzéntz

Decade Decadence

I had a hard time choosing a decade, because each decade has its own color palette and pop culture references. But I ultimately decided to design my nails around the ’90s. I turned seven in 1990. My childhood was just beginning. I started thinking of all of my favorite things from those years:the music, the movies, the colors, the patterns, all the things that stuck out for me when I thought of my childhood. Kate Moss and Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands were immediate thoughts. Kate is an amazing supermodel, whom I looked up to. She was the shortest supermodel, and I was trying to get into modeling, but wasn’t tall enough. She was my hope. Johnny Depp is classic, and so is Edward Scissorhands; it is my absolute favorite movie. It’s fun, but emotionally deep at the same time. Another ’90s relation involving Kate and Johnny, besides being two of my favorite people, is that they dated in the ’90s. MTV was awesome in the ’90s. The network actually played music videos! So I had to include a few of my favorites. Nineties Madonna with her “Strike a Pose,” my favorite No Doubt CD from the ’90s, and Nirvana because … well, it’s Nirvana. Grunge was a favorite trend of mine, so the flannel and boot nail are a nod to that style. Before I was dressing in grunge, I was decorating my school supplies with the amazingly colorful Lisa Frank stickers and collecting treasure trolls! To create the troll hair, I stole some fur from of my daughter’s Furby! As if I could forget about the Mario nail. Countless nights, my BFF and I would stay up until dawn trying to defeat King Koopa! My mention of “As if!” throws it to my final nail. It’s the ever-popular clear cord phone with neon parts, and the ’90s phrase straight out of Clueless the movie. I hope you enjoy my set!

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

I decided on galaxy because they always end up being out of this world! I’m such a nerd, and I love all things space and astrological. Pair it with nails, and I’m in heaven! I created a few custom mixed acrylics to sculpt my nails out first. I added the glitter acrylic to the tips, then covered it with a sparkly, spacey black on the top of the nail. I then used some mixes of acrylic to create my galaxy look. I built it up a bit to add depth after I encased it with clear acrylic. It turned out just as I had hoped. I shaped the nails after the  clear acrylic cured, and began on all the fun stuff. I made my own planets using my Ring Thing, gel, and glitters. Then I used white gel-polish to paint the zodiac wheel onto the ring fingers on each hand. On the backside, I painted more astrological symbols to complement the front design. I also added sparkling stars to the backside of the nails using gel-polish.  I knew that I had to kick my design up another notch, so I went with a spinning planet.  I drilled holes into the nails, added the bead on some wire, and used acrylic to adhere it to the backside of the nail. I can’t stop spinning it! Last but not least, I decided to wrap wire around the thumb nail for an added spacey look. I used acrylic to hold it into place.  I had a lot of fun creating these, and I’m really enjoying them, as I used myself as a model.


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

Week 3: Gel II

Timeless Treasure

I’m a super passionate person, which in turn makes me treasure things quite often. I find that I treasure tradition and items from the past the most. I love the theme of this collection. I was excited to work on yet another vintage-esque nail masterpiece! I immediately thought of timeless and then thought of a clock. But I knew I had to create a timeless clock, so I went with a vintage/Alice in Wonderland design for it. The numbers traveling down the spiral clock point to an infinite world where life itself is timeless. But I wanted to take it further, so I enlisted the help of my handy hubs to help create a rotary motor with a button to include so I could make the hands on the clock move around in a timeless fashion. I included an amazing feather piece to keep the vintage feel alive.

I also thought of my little family. My husband and I never had an actual wedding due to his deployment in 2003 to Kuwait. But after 11 years, we finally had that special day with a vow renewal. I treasure that day, my family, and the pictures that froze time forever. I included a family picture from that day in my design to represent this. That day, I wore a gorgeous dress, handmade by a special family member. I could feel the love it was made with, and that too is very treasured. I have extra lace from the dress that I included in the treasure box for a very special touch. I also included a recreation of a recipe paper I have from my grandmother. I have recipes from both of my grandmas who have passed, and it’s always comforting to see their writings.  My grandfather was a jeweler. He is one of the many family members in a long line of artists that I got my abilities from.  He used to create globes full of sand with delicate butterflies made of stone. The time it must have taken him to make them so precise! I treasure my artistic and creative uniqueness that I got so naturally. It’s something that I think about daily, especially in this competition.

Last, but not least, I treasure nature. The world we live in can be so harsh, but the moment I step outside into the sun, and into the world, I become one with it all. I treasure those small things in nature. The first fallen leaf, the flower on its last petal, it’s all a treasure to me. That’s the reason for the inclusion of moss, stones, and crystals. This life I live, I treasure.

I used acrylic paints for most of this piece, but I also used gel-polish on the clock hands and the nail tips.

Click here to see a video diary of Dana’s nails.

Week 2: Orly

Sunset Strip

This was a ton of fun because I love history and old Hollywood. There was a lot of that on the Strip. Once I read the challenge, I immediately thought of old Hollywood glam. I quickly came up with the idea for the cohesive part of my design. The black reverse half moon, and gold pieces of glitter. Think, The Great Gatsby. I love that! There were also two buildings I am familiar with that came to mind as I read the challenge: the Viper Room and Chateau Marmont. I didn’t want to paint the present-day Viper Room, since I was trying to stay historic. Once I came across The Melody Room as a former tenant of the same building, I knew I had to do it! It was a jazz bar, so I thought creating a night sky with a silhouette of the building and sign was pretty jazzy. For the Chateau Marmont, I couldn’t help but create the checkered floor in the entry to the Penthouse. Nothing says classy, old Hollywood like a black and white checkered floor. To me, it’s very VIP! The other nails were just as fun because I was learning the history while researching and designing. A favorite is obviously the VIP nail with the key. I found it interesting that you could get into another level of the Roxy by showing a special key, if you were lucky enough to have one. I created most of my nails with neon colors for two reasons. First, The Strip is full of neon colors! The second is simple: Once you hit the club VIP style with these nails, everyone will notice you because your nails will be glowing as bright as the Roxy sign under those club blacklights!


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

Week 1: Gelish

Squadron Goals

I chose to design these nails around Italy because my husband and I dream of visiting there someday. We are constantly talking about the places we want to travel, and Italy is at the top of our list.  I thought it would be neat to incorporate my sweetheart in my story, as well as the vintage-inspired design, to keep with the Sweetheart Squadron line from Gelish. I had a blast completing this look. I knew I wanted to create a worn map, so the thin acrylic layer was perfect for it. I rolled it up on one corner, and made the other sides ragged. It was important to me to not create a contemporary airplane, but one that’s more vintage. That’s when I thought of Amelia! Her plane was so much fun to create. The spinning propellers were a must-have in my book. Plus, I got to use chrome on the plane! Then, I finally decided on the worn passport look for the other nails because I just love that style. I love to create something to look like it is a hundred years old, or more. The luggage I created out of acrylic only.  I layered it, then filed it to shape. I created two luggage cases and a hat box, once again going with the vintage look. I then glued that stack of luggage to the pinky nail. I searched forever for a quote to paint onto one of the nails. I finally came across this one, and it truly made me tear up thinking about traveling with my love. It’s amazingly satisfying watching my nails come together to form the image I had from the start, or sometimes, even better.

Click here to see a video diary of Dana’s nails.