I’ve always loved nail art, and I’ve always loved a challenge. When it comes to nail artistry “no” is not in my vocabulary. I feel that my clients have prepared me for this type of competition throughout the years because they know they can present me with any type of nail inspiration and I’ll always figure out a way to make it work. I feel so blessed to have built a career in this industry and that I get to do what I love every single day.
Set 1: The Family Story
What most inspired me when creating this design was the left-brain right-brain aspects that make up the Nordstrom family and CND. Every family member has their own strengths and like a puzzle, every piece/person is important in making things work. The puzzle pieces in the background not only represent the the joint efforts of the family, but also the (left brain) logical side of the company. The family portrait highlights a big moment in the company’s history, but also represents the right brain/creative side of CND. I chose primary colors as my main color palette for this set to represent the beginning. I chose to put Jan’s portrait in the middle, because I truly admire her loyalty to her family and career.
Set 2: Solar Power
SolarNail Liquid and Powder was the industry’s first ever cross-linked polymer resin nail enhancement, meaning it provided durability, flexibility, and non-yellowing properties that other nail enhancements couldn’t offer at that time. When creating this design, I was inspired by the classic Forever French (pink and white acrylic), but wanted to put a modern avant garde spin on it. I also wanted to play on the “cross” linked polymer aspect of the innovation, so I sculpted the nails so that the pink and white crisscross at the smile line.
Set 3: Fashion First
In the 1990s, CND collaborated with Cynthia Rowley and brought nail art to the runway. For this challenge, I was inspired by the philosophy behind Cynthia Rowley’s brand, “Fashion should be an adventure.” This made me think of my own adventures that I’ve been lucky enough to have. The mannequin nails represent some of my favorite countries that I’ve traveled to, and the luggage nails represent places I still have yet to visit. Unfortunately, I broke my centerpiece for this design and had to recreate it at the last minute, but I think my point still comes across. I wanted to bring the runway to the runway.
Set 4: Brisa and Beyond
For this set we were asked to create 3-D nails with a crystal ball look into the future of nails. I believe that the future is what we make it, ever changing based on the work we put in to reach our goals. I decided the best way to portray this was to pull inspiration from kaleidoscopes. When looking through a kaleidoscope, you can change what you see by twisting it and looking through it in different lighting. So I decided to create a clear nail design with adjustable lengths. As you slide out the length, it manipulates the patterns you see when you look through them. I also created them to go from square nails to stilettos to symbolize the change we can make in our own futures. The future that I see for nails is that they are beginning to merge with the accessory category, so I created these nails to be worn as rings. I’d also like to see adjustable lengths become an everyday part of the nail world so that the “everyday working girl” can go from professional to partier just by adjusting the length of her nails.
Week 10: Wildflowers
For this week’s challenge I was inspired by sailor’s folklore and mythology. There are so many fascinating stories regarding mysterious shipwrecks and disappearances. The edge of the world used to be a great fear among sailors who voyaged to discover new lands. When a ship never returned home it was assumed that they fell off the edge of the earth. Mermaids/sea nymphs (similar to sirens) would use their alluring beauty and irresistible voices to hypnotize sailors into crashing their ships into jagged rocks. The Kraken which is a giant octopus/squid-like creature would devour unsuspecting ships that came into its territory. These are the stories I chose to interlock into my multidemintional design.
Week 9: Gel II
When we were tasked with Hawaiian nail art this week I decided to pull inspiration from the first two things that came to mind: tiki bars and hula dancers. Fun fact: both hula and tikis were brought into Hawaiian culture by Polynesians who settled there. We were required to incorporate a volcano into the design to celebrate La Palm’s (Gel II’s sister brand) new Volcano Spa Pedicure in a Box. Since we were lucky enough to receive this fun spa kit in our sponsor package I had to use it in my design by creating an active bubbling volcano. Because Hawaii is made up of many islands, I decided to place my volcano in the background on a separate island from the front portion of my design. While working with an active ingredient it inspired me to add in another, fire. So using birthday candles, toothpicks, and 4D Gel I created tiki torches to really light up my design.
Week 8: KUPA
I created my triptych to be a representation of my spirit animal, the king cobra. While researching for this challenge, I noticed that most triptych carvings are based around the religious and spiritual, and so I thought this would be a fun way to give it my own personal touch. Kupa gave us so many amazingly bright colors, so to make my cobra stand out in my design I sculpted the body into a neon ombre that winds between the three nails and then carved the face and scales using the ManiPro Passport. I also noticed, while researching this topic, that triptych carvings have very elaborate frame work. For this reason, I decided to extend the shape of the nail tips using black acrylic and then carved out the border.
Week 7: En Vogue
A few words stuck out to me in this week’s brief. The title of our challenge was “Strike a Pose” which instantly made me think of fashion seen on the red carpet and runways. The word “muse” also stuck out to me. Because muses serve as a source of inspiration, I decided to stay away from replication in this challenge. So rather than painting her portrait, I decided to create a fashion-inspired piece that is cohesive with Madonna’s style.
As I looked for my inspiration throughout images of her most iconic outfits, I noticed that she likes to mix opposites such as hard and soft elements, masculine and feminine, leather and lace, etc. I decided to pair houndstooth with lace to represent the masculine and feminine. I also noticed that Madonna’s outfits are mainly black with mixed textures, which is what inspired the top portion of my design and use of matte, shiny, and glitter finishes. I used the En Vogue logo within my lace prints. On the underside of the nails I wanted to include some ’80s fashion, so I created an abstract ’80s print, which also incorporates the En Vogue “V.”
Week 6: NSI
My heart lives in New Orleans. This city is the home of the Saints, alive with music, full of Southern hospitality, and Cajun food. I’ve even been so lucky as to snag a man who’s from there. So to be able to create a Mardi Gras design for NTNA is a dream come true.
Parades, music, beads, costumes, king cake; it was so hard to focus my inspiration this week because I had way too much. So I decided to create a nail design that I would actually want to wear for this carnival season. I love wearing long stiletto nails, I love bling, and more than anything I love when people stop me to admire my nails. As lavish as Mardi Gras is, I’d need a design so over-the-top to even be noticed, but also a design that captures the classic Mardi Gras spirit. Not being able to use paint this week was such a struggle for me, but in the end I’m so happy with my final result.
Week 5: EzFlow
We have a lot of Mayan decor in our home, so it was an easy decision to choose Chichen Itza as my inspiration this week. A lot of people think that it’s just a pyramid, but the El Castillo (the main attraction) is only a part of the ancient ruin site. There are so many other amazing places to see while you’re there, such as a ball court where the ancient Mayans played sports, the plaza of a thousand columns, and various temples.
I created my nails to look like the stone carvings that are seen throughout the site, and of course I had to dedicate a nail to the Mayan Calendar. I also included the El Castillo step pyramid and a Mayan princess. I chose to mainly focus on my color scheme on the Ethereal Blossom collection because the color shifting qualities add a perfect touch to creating stone and marble nails.
Week 4: Tammy Taylor Nails
Della and Jim from the 1905 short story ‘The Gift of the Magi’ were my inspiration for this challenge. Technically it’s a Christmas story, but to me it’s been one of my all time favorite love stories since I was a little girl.
If you’ve never heard the story, here is a short summary: Della and Jim are a newlywed couple. They are short on money and the holiday season is upon them. Jim’s most precious possession is his inherited pocket watch, but it is missing it’s chain. Della’s most prized possession is her long beautiful hair. She’s always wanted a comb for her hair but could never afford it, so Jim sells his pocket watch in order to buy her one. Meanwhile, Della wants to buy a chain for his pocket watch, but without enough money she decides to sell her hair. They exchange their perfect gifts only to realize that the gifts are both now useless because of what they gave up for their partner, but the true gift was that they were both willing to sacrifice something they love just to make the other person happy. They are my favorite couple because they are a reminder that actions speak louder than words, and that true love is priceless.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the calligraphy writing in my design is actually a love note to my boyfriend, Jamie. He has sacrificed a lot for me to be able to compete in this competition, and not just once, but two years in a row. I don’t say it enough, but I am eternally grateful to him, and hope that I make him feel as special and amazing as he does for me.
Week 3: LeChat
The top portion of my design represents perception. To illustrate this I chose to portray the seven deadly sins by playing on phrases like “green-eyed monster” and “seeing red.” I painted seven eyes with each sin represented by their associating colors. I don’t believe that there are any bad emotions. It’s human nature, but when we are not willing to see the reality behind our emotions, we lose sight of ourselves, and we lose empathy. With clouded judgement and a closed mind our perception of reality becomes a false reality. That is when the darkness of negative emotion can grow into the seven deadly sins.
Because the underneath design would be backwards (like a reflection) from the top view, I felt it would be perfect to paint the seven Chakra symbols for my representation of reality. Negative emotions cannot be overcome by the actions of others, only by changing our perception of ourselves, and looking inward with self-reflection can we make the necessary changes. Finding an inner balance is what gives us empathy. We may never know the true meaning of reality, but with empathy we can see and accept the reality of others and take a step closer to the truth.
Week 2: Mia Secret
A safari, by definition, is an expedition to observe animals in their natural habitats. At first glance I wanted my design to look like your everyday African Safari, but I also wanted to tie in elements that would make this design unique to me as if I were the one being observed. What a lot of people dont know about me is that I have played the violin for almost 20 years, I’ve studied music theory, singing, and dance. My boyfriend is also a musician. He plays bass guitar, raps, and spent several years touring with his band. Now we are both extremely dedicated to our day jobs, but we have a music studio in our home which is a fun way to spend our down time. My guitar shaped giraffe was inspired by a picture I found online. This led me to create a lion shaped like a cello, and a zebra mane patterned like piano keys.
The lion and two zebras are placed near the water so that their reflections create a base clef. I also made musical notes out of flowers, incorporated the treble clef in my tree branches, and the birds flying in the background are actually rest notes. To create the final look of my safari design, I attached each 3-D element onto a different nail in a layered fashion so that they would remain separate but create one picture.
Week 1: Orly
As soon we got this challenge I instantly thought of a photo I had saved on my inspiration board last year. It’s a photo of fully bloomed flowers covered in icicles. I saved it because I love when things that shouldn’t go together create something beautiful.
My focus was on the “clear” aspect of this challenge so I created icicle stiletto nails. I really wanted my encapsulated elements to enhance the clearness of the nails and not be the focal point. For this reason I chose to encapsulate a seashell foil. I chose this foil because its pale colors reflecting through the textured surface would help add to their icy appearance. I also encapsulated gold tape into the nails to be an offsetting accent color. When most people think of wintery colors they think of silver. So to keep with my theme of things-that-shouldn’t-go-together I figured gold would be the best way to go. I then created bouquet embellishments by mixing Orly’s Builder in a Bottle with the colors Mauvelous and Cashmere Crisis, and lightly sugared them with white iridescent glitter to give them a frosted appearance. I finished my wintery design by adding a few pearls and gold crystals.