I’m Stephanie Loesch, also known as @_stephsnails_ on Instagram. I’ve been a nail designer all of my adult life, watching trends come, go, change and become something evolutionary.
Working as a nail artist is like living in a dream and every day, I push myself to create new beautiful designs. These tiny masterpieces make my heart beat faster and my brain explode with creativity.
I also have a passion for teaching and encouraging new artists to step outside the box and reach for the sky. Seeing nail art change and grow wouldn’t be what it is without the many artists out there today. Instagram, along with magazines and other forums, have become like a museum of fine art in the nail industry and I am beyond blessed to be a part of it. Nail art, the countless trends, endless creativity and being a nail designer is what completes me as @_stephsnails_.
STEPHANIE’S FINALE ESSAY(and remember to click through the photos to see all the collection designs!)
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” said Billy Cunningham. In this life we find what is most important to each and every one of us as we live day to day. For some it’s fashion and others the complete opposite, but for nail art it will always somewhat be centered around fashion.
Past, present and future trends are always an inspiring go to when thinking about the next best nail art and if we’re talking about Jan Arnold’s fashion that’s on a whole new level. Jan’s style is evolved, unexpected and bit wacky. What is fashion without a little fun?
I was inspired by so many pieces from Jan’s own capsule collection and tried to implement little bits in all my sets to bring it full circle to my own capsule collection of nail art!
When asked to redo a few pasts sets I was skeptical because I loved each and every set I did along the way. So I decided to recreate them as closely as possible on fresh new tips to display how the sets could be changed and tweaked without loosing my little pieces of art completely.
Back To The Future was something I created to be very girly and boho so in order to make it work in a capsule all around I decided on painting a lot of the designs with black to take away the girly pinks and blue that prominently took over the set. All in all it worked! I feel as though the set, even on the girly side, perfectly goes within my final capsule. It’s like changing a shirt each day, we don’t want to wear the same shirt? Right?
My next set was CND Couture and I decided to actually upcycle. I made the easy ingenious transition to something longer by adding a clear tip painted with glitter top coat and traded in the purple flowers for red. Adding some bling and real embroidered touches made for the best changes possible and inspired a nail in the last challenge set.
Next up is Fashion Fanatic and I really did love this one. I re-created the set a tad longer and traded in the painted barbed wire for a handmade piece. Created some different lines within the design and few 3D details made with CND Shellac and some bling so that this look was complete.
Last but not least Harajuku Punk was an all time favorite. I kept the design very similar but traded patterns on nails and added new painted designs in place of a bunch of accessories. Keeping the tassels the same and changing out my teddy bear for a bomber jacket inspired look with a leopard J for Jan and this set was on fire. With all these changes how could I ever possibly come up with good enough designs for my final set?
I took a few days off to recoup and sat down and designed every last nail. Half way through the design I changed a few details, but as an artist that’s exactly what you’re looking for. How can I make it better? How can I be better?
I was inspired by Jan Arnold’s funky style and the designer items she showed the final contestants and melted my style in there to come up with something show stopping.
I created a reversible nail, NTNA inspired looks, blood, a crocodile petal eyeball flower, and a nail inspired by a satin jacket along with so many more. To say the least I let my weird show and I loved every second of it.
Nails Next Top Nail Artist has taught me how to be a better nail artist, to think outside the box, to use my brain to its full capabilities and exhaust all my creative mojo. It was exhausting in an exhilarating way, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I loved every set I created and a strong suit of mine is making many colors, patterns, materials, and accessories work well together and through everything I proved that I am a Top Nail Artist. I out styled my style and became something more. Nail Next Top Nail Artist Capsule Collection is complete.
Click here for a 7-10 minute video diary detailing the inspiration for her capsule collection as well as a look at how her new set of nails was created!
Memories are some of the best parts of life. A period in time or something to look back on and reminisce. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time with my cousins and one of our favorite things to do was visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Something about the ocean and it’s beauty was magical. Fun days of playing on the beach created memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The ocean is mysterious in so many ways. It reaches depths of almost 7 miles in the deepest areas known to man. The ocean also covers nearly 70% of earth’s surface and less than 5% of the oceans have been explored.
Along with the world’s largest mountain chain being under water aquatic life is also the majority of life on earth. And even with all those mysterious and amazing facts the human race around the world is using this majestic part of earth as a way to dispose of trash and waste.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency named five countries as being the largest contributors to plastic wastes in our oceans including; China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The ocean has now accumulated about 46,000 pieces of trash per square mile making the average plastic dumped in the ocean around 8 million pieces per day. The most obvious detriment of plastic being dumped into the ocean is the entanglement, ingestion and suffocation of marine life. This affects a wide variety of animals all the way from birds, whales to turtles that all eventually starve with indigestible plastic in their stomachs.
This is a change that I would like to see–I want to see the ocean cleaned up. I want to see countries acknowledge that dumping trash and plastic into our oceans is killing it. The ocean provides 50% of the oxygen we breathe and regulates the climate. If the ocean and life in the ocean such as the aquatic animals and coral reefs were to die all life on earth would die. We need the ocean to survive and there needs to be change moving forward in life to better our futures. I would love to see the beauty I saw as a kids restored and have our beaches and oceans free of trash, dumping and pollution.
See Stephanie’s video here!
In the 80’s all sorts of revolutionary things happened. From music and rock n’ roll to fads and fashion. Post war Japan is where Harajuku Punk was born, at stores catering to the soldiers stationed in Tokyo, Japan. Plus a young culture of kids being exposed to Western civilization music and clothing creating a style with no bounds. The younger generations were exploding with creativity mixing clothing, items, styles, jewelry and genres which created a plethora of fashion choices, including Harajuku punk or goth and Lolita.
Styles range from dark or rock n’ roll punk all the way to pink and kittens. I chose a cross between Harajuku punk and Jan Arnold’s person style choices to create a rainbow accent punk set.
If you’ve tuned into one of NTNA’s recap shows every Friday on the Nails Magazine Facebook @10am PST then you know Winnie the host and judge for NTNA always says, “More is More.” And when researching Harajuku Punk I came across an article stating that exact same thing relating to Harajuku punk. So I decided to go ALL OUT.
When thinking about Harajuku it’s encouraged to never hold back your creativity and to push the rules and bounds as far as your dreams can dream hence my giant skeleton teddy. It’s all about wearing more clothes, or less, layering vintage with new, rainbow with black and so much more.
This Harajuku inspired set was also doubled as a beautiful set of runway nails. So even then Harajuku is “more is more” CND’s main idea of runway styles nails is grand with refinement.
I think I’ve perfectly married those two together creating a Punk style set fit for the runway and a 2D Harajuku janicure. This set was something straight out of the past 40 years of Harajuku inspired fashion.
Chandeliers come in all shapes and sizes, but so do nails so why not a chandelier inspired challenge? I say yes, yes and yes, let’s do it!
In a world full of any kind of chandeliers you could dream up or find, I gravitated towards a raw edge quartz chandelier. Quartz is a beautiful stone indeed, but to some it possesses more than just its beauty. Quartz is believed to have healing powers and to inspire creativity. Those are only a few “powers” quartz are believed to possess and is also known as the strongest enhancing stone in the mineral kingdom. Beside the fact that it’s an excellent manifestation tool and that it’s beautiful it is even more stunning on a chandelier. I think I need one! However chandelier nails inspired but such a magnificent piece of art will do for now.
CND is known for amazing nail products and runway nails. I wanted this set to be something that CND would be proud to have in a show if this were a theme a designer would want. I layered multiple techniques and embellishments to create something I believe is worthy of all that CND is known for. I spent a great deal of time on the tiny iridescent and foil details as to not take over the nail so that it would still showcase how clear Plexigel is. With each nail finished I grew to love Plexigel more and more and felt honored to be in a competition that would allow me to create amazing art on nails every week. Each challenge I have a goal to be better, I’ve listened to advice from the judges, watched past seasons and have heard EVERY word on the recap to help fuel my personal growth in this competition. I hope more than ever that shines through just like a chandelier this time around.
See her video here.
The idea of marrying fashion and nails has got to be one of the greatest world wonders. At least to me it is. In a world of limitless creativity and no rules to hold anyone back from creating master pieces of all kinds, fashion and nails have got to be the best combo since sliced bread.
This week the talented contestants left in Next Top Nail Artist had another chance to create a fashion inspired set using only Vinylux nail polish. This was something else, in a world of every kind of medium known to man and woman a professional nail techs probably does not use nail polish very often, but Vinylux is more than a regular nail polish!
Pushing my skill sets using this nail polish medium I’m not used to, I showed myself that Vinylux is an amazing product to work with! The smooth thicker texture made painting easy as long as I cleaned my brush often in acetone to avoid any product building up and drying in my brush– I was golden.
Layering was a piece of cake with a bright white color underneath to help make the colors show their vibrance. Drying times were fast and I didn’t struggle with any bleeding products, I was amazed.
Besides enjoying the challenge using this product I wouldn’t normally choose, the Libertine fashion ideas were pouring out of me. I read and watched a few interviews and saw that he calls himself a maximalist and so am I. All the current trends right now hit the nail on the head as Libertine style, but knowing he’s been around the block and original to his core is inspiring enough to make me choose his art all over again and he’s been around for twenty years. Twenty years of inspiration to take from and create this “mix master” as Libertine would say, kind of style. Styled to a ‘t’ and then some, this Libertine inspired ready to wear set has to be my favorite yet!
See her technique video here.
And her inspiration photo here…
Imagination was required for this week’s challenge, and I did not disappoint. I created my version of Nailandia and I couldn’t be more excited to share with the world.
I am a realist so when asked to create something that could potentially come to life I wanted to do just that. I wanted something achievable yet fun. What better than mini golf? This is a favorite quaint activity my grandmother used to take my sister and I to as kids all the way to adulthood. It’s something everyone is willing to try no matter their age. So it was a perfect fit for Nailandia in my eyes.
I created a nail related version featuring a Shellac gel polish windmill tower with functioning magnetic golf ball. Why did the golfer need a new pair of pants? Because he got a hole in one! Now jokes aside I was trying to achieve what could potentially be real.
Nailandia to me is a place that would have “resort like” feels with a spa and conference rooms for further nail education. Even though the main focus would be educational we need a little fun and one more reason to visit Nailandia so why not mini golf and hot air balloon rides? Sounds like fun to me! A nail themed golf course sounds like a dream and the hot air balloon rides can represent how the sky is the limit! These two fun activities combined with a pool, teaching areas and a spa sounds like a nail techs dreams come true.
My inspiration was part past experiences and part looking for something that can be similar to the nail cruises that happen every few years. I hope you enjoyed watching what I’ve created and hearing why I chose this direction for Nailandia. Cannot wait for challenge number 6, this has been by far some of the most creative achievements that I have accomplished as a nail tech!
“‘You must be the change you want to see in this world” -Gandhi.
I really dove deep into this week’s challenge. I was beyond excited that we had the freedom to choose our own challenge in a sense and I could not wait to push myself for growth and change.
I looked through CND’s past ad campaigns and found the perfect one for me! I decided to go with the summer 2018 shellac collection called Boho Spirits. This made sense to me because there were so many ideas I drew immediately from just the name and could correlate them back to myself. One of the main reasons was in a sense, style, decor and fashion.
Nail art has been my main love for so much of my life, but I also have a passion for interior design and after buying my first house four years ago, that love has only grown. When thinking about popular decor trends, boho jumps to the top of the list. In boho decor you see lots of cacti which ultimately reminds me of where I was born in Mesa, Arizona. See what I mean? This ad campaign was made for me!
When thinking about spirits I was led to want to create a dreamcatcher. They’ve been around my whole life, peaking in popularity in the 90s when I was born. I’ve always admired their beauty, each one being as unique as people, never two the same. Dreamcatchers can mean good luck, the circle of life and they ward off bad spirits while dreaming. All things I can use in NTNA!
Lastly I was inspired by a bird to represent freedom and reaching endless heights in my design skills, but also the mandala print. One of the mandala’s symbolization is how everything is connected which brings challenge #4 full circle for me! Everything that is meant to be, will be.
Click on the nail art image above in order to see additional images from each contestant.
Let’s talk a minute about all things celestial and lunar, what comes to mind? Planets, the moon, galaxies, stars, maybe even aliens? Well for Challenge Three, I really stepped up my game and created something extraordinarily CELESTIAL.
Using Brisa Gel and Shellac Gel Polish I created a plethora of all things lunar. I made a Solar Oil themed planet on one thumb and a cluster of stars (diamonds) with the moon on the other thumb.
Before I got started, I went searching for inspiration on the internet. I found a few images that spoke to my soul and mapped out a plan. I love to draw out my designs and watch them come to life as I execute them one by one. The Brisa Gel was relatively easy to use for my first time ever playing with a sculpting gel and the Shellac color brought to life my inspiration picture vibes. The set of nails I have created for challenge three may be a little out there, but in challenge two review, Winnie told us to jump off the cliff so here I am!
Designing this set was fun to say the least. I chose a few painted designs to help represent that part of people who think of astrology and tarot cards when mentioning space. I used a few diamonds and charms at the lunula to help elevate these designs. I also used a crushed rock that reminded me of moon rocks or meteors.
I had a lot of fun creating stars, clouds, the solar oil planet and the sun. At each base of the nail there is something extra special! A large stone to represent a moon stone, moons, a falling star and so much more! Everything I could think of that was space themed was somehow, way, shape or form made and stuck onto this set!
Wow, this week and challenge number two was one for the books. I stepped outside my normal realm creating this fashion inspired look. I ended up picking a Moral Standards look by Olga Ochkas that had me racking my brain for the perfect wearable fashion nails I could create!
I started my look with a medium coffin set of nails and painted a mixture of black and white nails. I also mixed Shellac white and top coat to give a few of the nails a sheer look. This was to represent her stockings. I spent some time finding the perfect spots to give a “stitched” look, too, and ending up loving the placement. I also chose a few nails to look like the corset with the 3D collars that I made from Plexigel and painted with black Shellac.
For the flowers I wanted it to look similar, but not perfect like the flowers on her dress. The reason I chose not to mimic them completely was to avoid them looking too cartoon like. I opted for a messy look that showcased perfectly on these tiny surfaces.
I then had to choose where and what types of embellishments would resemble the chains in this Moral Standards dress. I chose to continue the mockup of the collar on the corset and add a few chains and jump rings there. Then I had a random piece of diamond chain and knew I had to use it, so I picked two nails and went for it. I wanted a few nails to have chains that dangled freely and some that were fastened in place. I used Brisa Gel Builder for all the securing of embellishments and Plexigel for all things 3D. I made a few flower petals and attached them to the diamond chain and a Plexigel version of the bottom of her dress ruffles. I finished the set off with a bow and medallion. This challenge was so much fun, and all the products were easy to work with– looking forward to challenge 3!
Challenge one was nothing short of a mind twister. Thoughts running across my mind, over analyzing every detail, wondering if the challenge was supposed to be about me or CND. In the end I chose words that represent me and my journey, but which I also feel do CND justice as a brand that has grown to be a worldwide leader in the industry.
Captivate: I chose this word because it embodies what I try and do on a daily basis and where I began. Starting my career my main concern was captivation. Using my skills on each nail set and taking a moment to capture the art I created to fascinate clients and future clients. My main goal was to get them to be more adventurous with their nails, in turn advancing my skills one set at a time. I captivated each moment through pictures that I posted on social media to grow my audience. Same can be said for most brands, captivating their target market into wanting to buy their products. The camera represents this word for me, and the negative space lens shows endless possibilities.
Nostalgia: This word is so much more than just a word; it also represents time. Over time we go through trends, phases, styles, shapes and more to gain inspiration. I am always looking back on past trends, improving my skills and trying to predict what will be next, just as a brand would reflect back on popular time periods to develop future beloved products. The plaid, star, clouds, years, drips, rainbow and paint splatter represent multiple time periods and trends that are nostalgic.
Determined: Determination is always a huge factor in where you are going and how fast you’ll get there. The desert represents how hard things can be and the flower represents growth in the harshest of conditions.