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Final Challenge: The Judge’s Feedback

When it gets down to the final three in NAILS Next Top Nail Artist (NTNA), no one envies the judges. They are scoring nail art from artists at the top of their game, and the final submissions from the three remaining in the competition dazzled the judging panel.

Here is what the judges had to say about each of the final submissions for NTNA from Emily Nash @nailsbyem, Jessica Warzyniak @oohnicenails, and Stephanie Loesch @_Stephsnails_ 

In reading these comments, it is very tough to determine who will ultimately be named the winner because every finalist’s work is receiving top marks but stay tuned for the winning announcement going live on October 4, 2021.

  Emily Nash

Head Judge Jan Arnold: Shellac ruffles…p.s. thank you for not giving up on this technique and diligently trying again to perfect it!; and then, the amazing colorful basket weave; Libertine hand painted prints, gold swirls, lace sock details, decorative pins…seriously, OMG. I’m in love with absolutely everything you’ve created. And it’s all with such precision, confidence, and control. The red hand painted libertine inspired nail is so intricate and adding the additional embellishments to it absolutely helped to give it an Avant Guard feel. The creation of the 3-d hand using Brisa is glorious!

If I were to call out anything in this finale’ challenge is the fact you are not wearing gloves…our new norm…but even so, I also love your leopard print nails. You are flawless and amazing.

Judge and Producer Beth Livesay:

Your newest set is by far my favorite. These are winning nails! The denim is so beautiful and I love the dimension on the gold. Thank your for redoing and refining the Shellac ruffle. Watching you handpaint the Libertine toile was a dream. I love the tip about using the gel string! A nail that is also a bunch of pins? So cool and innovative!! Your patches are impeccable. You did a reversible nail! Emily the cap is genius! The clear dress nail is super cool but I wish you had pushed the outer layer more with some ruffle detailing or another print layered over to make that optical illusion effect.

The redone CND couture  one is really cool. I do think Jan would wear this set and I think you were right to keep the basketweave.

The Back to the Future re-do is incredible! I was sad to see you take off those illusion tips but they separated nicely. I think for the new design you could have varied the lettering more to play to Jan’s humor or offered something more.

The Fashion Fanatic redo was so smart. I love the weird mix of ancient Egypt and the bondage type leather with Brisa. It’s so unusual, but it works, and I am glad you didn’t redo a ton on these because those nails were so gorgeous to begin with.

The Harajuku punk redo is my favorite. I think these nails were begging to be pushed now that it’s not a wearable challenge and I love the 3-d pins and embellishments.

Your videos are all exceptional. I love your appreciation of textile and commitment to the art of it. I am so proud to have watched you all these years. These nails are your best work. HUGE CONGRATS!

Judge and Game Master Winnie Huang:

Now THIS is a FINALE NAIL SET!!!! We asked for shape and volume and that wow factor…. boy did you deliver!!!!!!!

HOW COOL are those gold magnetic/pin nail? I’m so impressed with the way you painted the Libertine fabric! You did SO MUCH work on this set, and it came out wonderfully!

If I was nit picking I would have loved to see less of a literal recreation of the pieces…and more emphasis in the element of SURPRISE and SCALE. but that’s a very minor! Overall a STELLAR job and congratulations on season 8!

Season 7 Winner Giselle Caballero:

Emily, I love that all of your sets tell a completely different story and that you were able to give a great twist to all of the sets.

One of my favourite is definitely the itch work nail, super fun and unexpected, I love how you combined several different techniques and ideas to come up with your sets especially for the new set, it’s an architectural piece of art!

I do think you could have pushed the refinement and originality on the re used sets because this is it, the finale! You have done such an amazing job since day one and I really appreciate your artistry.

 Jessica Warzyniak

Head Judge Jan Arnold:

OK, my favorite nails are those fab knuckle nails, using more surface area to add adornment and drama. I think they are totally brilliant, and I would die to wear them. However, the overall set doesn’t look as cohesive as I would like. There were a few disparate colors and shapes that didn’t pull it together. I wish the demo stayed consistently centered in the frame and was zoomed in tighter. A large portion of the demo was an overview of what you created and not how your created it.

But that said, I LOVE your Shellac tulle, embroidery, diamond tooth, embroidered skull, and black lace nails! So many elements that are extraordinary and with you, the cherry on the cake is YOU!! You are so mediagenic and full of life and personality. A pleasure to see every time.

Judge and Producer Beth Livesay:

I think your flower and tooth shapes could be cleaner. I don’t think the pizza goes with Jan. Love the idea of an element from every challenge, but I don’t know if that goes with Jan’s capsule collection. The soft and hard dichotomy is a thoughtful way to approach this challenge.

The Fashion Fanatic and Back to the Future redos are superior. The glitter and sleeve inspo for Fanatic did make it more Jan. I love the interchangeability of the tulle. This was one of your strongest pieces this season so I love that you kept its essence.

The Back to the Future set is the one I want. I had never heard of dalmatian agate and I am OBSESSED. I think Jan would be too. The magnets are so smart and versatile. The embroidered skull nail on CND Couture is so good and fits so well. The brain isn’t as clear to me. The versatility of your final set is its strength.

Once again, your videos are the best! Thank you for the fashion show presentation – its so creative! And I love that you brought Jessica News Person McGee back! So smart to save elements from past challenges because the extra flowers on CND Couture worked really well!

I loved your Harajuku Punk set, so thank you for not messing with it too much. I love that you went all out with the shape and I do think it’s different and avant garde.

Overall, you have so many tremendous ideas and a unique POV. I know you worked hard to edit your existing sets and I think you did a fantastic job reimagining them. It’s the newest set that fell short for me. Congrats, Jessica, on all you’ve accomplished this season!

Judge and Game Master Winnie Huang:

OMG you have green hair!!!! A pizza tooth?! A girl after my own heart! I LOVE the way you conceptualized your final set. It makes SO MUCH sense!

There are SO MANY wonderful elements in this set…but I really feel like longer tip/shape would enhance the designs! I would really LOVE to see a little refinement in these elements as well.

You did a really good job leveling up all your other sets! Congratulations on a job well done!

Season 7 Winner Giselle Caballero:

Jessica, you alway give us unexpected, your use of non-nail products is always surprising. I love that you are able to combine all kinds of ideas into your sets and that you have removable elements, I sure love those!! I only wish the concepts behind each set we a bit clearer and stronger and that you would have upped the wow factor inside of the sets because I didn’t feel like we saw much of a twist that I know you can give us.

The magnetic tips were super fun and the knitting it’s something that will be a staple for you, Amazing job!

 Stephanie Loesch

Head Judge Jan Arnold:

First…your video production is off the charts great with perfect camera work, clean backgrounds, square to camera framing, tight close-ups. All of this makes it so easy to see the spectacular detail of your work and for everyone to learn from you. Your finale nails are wild and free, eclectic, and experimental, they are articulate, ingenious, innovative, and exciting…. (technical excellence off the charts). This is what fashion should be! You nailed it spot on. Professionalism in check with the gloves and spotless environment.

And that black nail…I DIE, inspired by the Noir jacket…a full set of those are just the most chic idea, and totally wearable. You left no stone unturned. The fringe nail, yaaasssss. The plaid nail with the fluff, yaaasssss. The belted nail, yaaassss it). Creating the petals over a textured surfaced was very smart indeed and helped to level up that flower, well that and the eyeball! Nice job and so much hard work. PLUS… BRAVO FOR YOUR WONDERFUL TIK TOKS! Xoxo

Judge and Producer Beth Livesay:

Blood, sweat and tears is such an appropriate name for this final set. The journal with Jan in it is phenomenal. Would love to know more about how its made. That all black nail is everything!

It’s embellished and designed just the right amount! The frayed edges on the plaid are so smart.

The nail belt is REALLY cool! The croc-inspired petals are so different – bravo! I love the takeaway that you can cut up a nail you don’t like and re-use it to make another nail. Great idea without wasting time. Your ruffle nail is exceptional, as is the reversible nail (you did it!).

Your Fashion Fanatic nails were one of my favorites from Season 8, but you re-did these nails from scratch (!!!!) and made them better, which I wouldn’t think was possible. The hair on the happy face, the ribbons and 3-D recreations are perfect. Still Libertine and still Jan!

Your CND Couture set needed to be redone and you outdid yourself. You took lackluster nails and Janified them. So much better! Also, are you rhyming? I love your scripts for these Tik Tok videos. You are a gifted videographer for all mediums.

The Harajuku Punk coffin! Brilliant! Again, you wow with presentation. The magnetized eye nail! I am dying! Your use of pearls here is so brilliant. I loved your original set so I was unsure how this would go, but I love the accessories you crafted.

Your Back to the Future set was another of my all time favorites this season but again, you flawlessly amplified the original by starting over (where did you get the time?!) and besting yourself.

Stephanie, each week you did better and better and this finale is your absolute best. I am completely wowed by your jeweler’s eye and artistic touch. Congrats on a phenomenal season and a finale set that is cooler and more interesting than anything out there!

Judge and Game Master Winnie Huang:

Did you seriously just sew two nails together?! You’re truly my crazy girl! I can’t even, it’s my favourite nail! I have to admit that I was overwhelmed and a bit puzzled when I saw them on your hands….but after your video, and seeing them laid out, it all makes sense now! You incorporated SO MANY elements using cool techniques, thank you for all the teaching moments in your video!

These look like pieces of jewelries, and something that would absolutely SMASH the runway! I want to wear them!

I also LOVE the reverse nail because it’s a concept we’ve never seen before! You truly embodied the premise of this final challenge! So a huge congrats! BRAVO

Season 7 Winner Giselle Caballero:

Well, you blew it out of the park, your submissions all seem to belong to the same collection and I love how it is so cohesive as a whole but also how Individually each set and even each nail has its own spark. I do think perhaps in some of the nails it got a bit busy but then I kept thinking this could be very well the trend, I mean often I see runways with crazy embellished pieces and it just works! The reversible nail, omg! That is something definitely original and so we’ll done, but really lots of great concepts and the best part was that initially you’re sets were so well done that with the new twists and additions you have taken them to the next level  where we wanted you and I couldn’t be happier.


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  • CND