Full Name: Quyên Tran
Hometown: Lowell, Mich.
Salon: QT Beauty LLC, Capital Nails
Preferred Nail Art Medium: Acrylic, Mixed-Media
Favorite Nail Trend: Handpainted art
Transitioning from being a nail tech into becoming a nail artist has been a beautiful journey of mine for the last year and I couldn’t be happier. I’m continuously learning, growing, and absorbing as much of the world as possible. This is actually where most of my inspiration comes from. I believe that there is art in everything we see and feel, and it’s up to us to translate it into our desired medium. Obviously for me, this medium happens to be nail artistry.
What sets me apart from other artists this season is my ability to work under extreme pressure and limited time. Even though shifting from nail tech to nail artist has been the best decision of my career, the first bigger portion of my profession has truly shaped me into who I am now. Handling high stress situations in a bustling salon setting with little time to think has made me mentally stronger and able to cope with anything that’s thrown my way.

Balance is something that immediately comes to mind when I think of this week’s challenge. My everyday work is where I have the most playtime. Whether it be diving into the latest nail art trends, or making new clientele friends, I love it all. Using KUPA’s newest vitamin-infused creation – EnrichRX, I was able to sculpt an everyday manicure look and then further elevate this look by creating fun accessories with the same healthy nail product. What is more everyday work appropriate than a partial ombre French manicure with floral line work for art! Of course I had to add a sprinkle of class and sass by using gold chrome pigment (especially since I missed out on the fun in last week’s challenge and could not resist). The classic oval nail shape is also a very popular ask from my nail clients with a hustling, bustling work life.

A little extra play never hurt anybody so I ventured far far out of my comfort bubble and crated nail cages that can be worn as accessories to both draw attention and also compliment the original everyday look. I decided to concentrate on sculpting 3 well-made accessories since this was my first time ever attempting anything in this nail art realm but I will be more efficient in the future and create even more fun nail components! I never want to jeopardize quality over quantity and I think the accessories add to the complete aesthetic without pulling away from the soft level of sophistication.

NTNA has pushed me to grow as a nail artist and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d like to say that I have the concept of work, play, and everyday life figured out but that would be a fib. Only recently transitioning from a nail tech into now someone who is on the national stage of nail artistry – this is something I would not have even began to think about just 6 months ago. It is a huge honor to mingle with the amazing competitors in this competition and the judges’ feedback have not only helped me further improve my skills but also grow in my personal life as well.

Everything is of course calmer and more beautiful when there is a sense of balance but I am currently doing my best to float in the uncomfortable growth period of imbalance. With the motivation and support of everyone involved with NTNA, I can truthfully say that I am thankful and hope to be able to continue to learn, work, and play everyday!

Watch her EnrichRX TikTok


Over the Top

This challenge involved channeling inspiration from the future! With the seasons changing and the sun starting to shine, the weather starting to warm, flowers beginning to bloom, and my constant love for runway fashion, I found myself being drawn to bring nature as well as a wacky futuristic vibe into this creation. Everything in this world seems to become more complicated every day with new technologies and social medias. My entry focuses on a much more simplistic future. What could be more futuristic, while also being a call to the beautiful spring season, than chrome butterflies? I hope for a future where technology has expanded on natural beauty instead of covering it up. The chrome butterflies are both a symbol of spring time and a new beginning. My remaining designs is a tribute to the peace and serenity that this season brings.

While we hope technology will make life easier, I find it adds a lot of unnecessary stress and chaos to our everyday lives. I like to believe that as the future grows closer and closer, we can find a harmony between nature and technology. A harmony where we have the beauty of the world and less of the harmful effects humanity has unleashed on this beautiful planet. A future where instead of endangering the earth’s creatures, we provide them a brighter future as well, as if they were chrome butterflies.

To create my design I used the CND Pearl top coat as well as CND shellac color in the shade of Silver Chrome. I ran into a large hurdle with this challenge, as I did not receive a very important element, The CND Over the Top Effect. I did my best to overcome and complete this obstacle so I could complete this challenge and express my dream of a harmonious future with nature and technology.

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Watch her TikTok here


Color Me KUPA

As KUPA’s Color Sleeve collection gives nail artists and professionals a great way to accessorize their MANIPro LED curing lamp, I wanted to create 2 sets of nail designs that are both interchangeable and fashionably colorful.

I drew inspiration from the color sleeve shades of Candy Apple Red and Phantom. Both red and black are dominant colors in the Kupa Inc brand so I took further inspiration from that concept as well and ran with it. Of course we had to add as many colors as possible to further elevate the nail designs while making sure our inspiration colors still shine through. My goal is for the finished look of this challenge to inspire bold, creativeness while also showcasing elements of peace, love, and harmony.

Art has a tendency to draw from current events and unfortunately we are coping through a time of unrest. My heart aches for our fellow friends in Ukraine and anyone in the surrounding regions who are also suffering during these painful times. I hope to express these feelings and show support through my art.

The moment I saw the Candy Apple Red sleeve I was inspired to create Ku-Pa, our red panda friend. The red panda represents peace, harmony, and the ability to endure. In this critical time in history we all need to come together to find balance and recognize that we do have the ability to endure hardships and push through to reach peace. While the designs differ from nail to nail, the theme and meaning is cohesive between the 2 sets as they all point towards unity for peace, harmony, and the strength to do so together.

With the Phantom sleeve I found myself pulling towards language. We are all divided by different ancestries and dialects, but within these languages we share the same meanings. Within every language is a way to say peace, love, and harmony. This is something we as humans all need to practice and show each other, as it is truly the purest way for us to all be united despite our differences. Showing peace, love, and harmony towards each other while enduring any hardships and pushing forward together to create a more unified and stronger world for everyone is something we can achieve and I believe we will get there.

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When thinking of my favorite nail art strength, I will have to say that hand painting is currently my favorite skill. I’ve only recently started to dabble more in this skill set and it’s been a lot of fun, with many learning opportunities along the way! The ability to learn, adapt, grow, and persevere through difficult situations in life is definitely a personal strength that I’m most proud of. Of course it’s never easy talking about oneself but this is a challenge after all, so I will do my best to express not only my art but also my personal strengths through this submission.

Originally growing up in the countryside of Southern Vietnam, my fondest memories were of the time spent with my grandmother. Being a rambunctiously energetic child, I would often ask to go play in the fields and watch lotus flowers reflect in the waters against dancing sunlight. Grandma or (Bà ngoai) would occasionally roll up her wide-bottomed silk pants and venture into the muddy waters. Once safely in, she picked the biggest lotus flowers so she could then use their roots for a yummy pickled side dish for her favorite granddaughter.

Lotus flowers, aside from being extremely tasty, have been a symbol for compassion, transformation, enlightenment, and self-regeneration. Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition: even when its roots are in the dirtiest of waters, the lotus produces the most beautiful flowers. As I am forever an optimist, I believe that most of us can be like the lotus flower and grow in deep mud, far away from the sun. Eventually, sooner or later, we will reach the light and become the most beautiful flower/best version of ourselves.

Another symbol for transformation and reaching one’s full potential is the Koi fish. I simply cannot draw my favorite flower without incorporating this iconic Asian fish that is full of powerful and energetic life force. Not only does the Koi fish represent ambition, independence, and courage, but it also symbolizes perseverance – in its ability to swim against the currents and travel upstream.

I’m happy to now call Michigan with its unsalted great lakes, my home but it has not always been easy swimming here. I learned very early on in life the intense work ethic passed down by my immigrant parents. Up until the past 2 years, I was still working practically 7 days a week with each workday lasting more than the conventional 8 hours. This was not the healthiest period and it took a global pandemic for me to realize that overall health, along with mental health, truly matters.

We cannot continue to fight our daily battles if we do not properly take care of ourselves. I am now able to balance life and manage time much better than before, and this makes me feel blessed beyond words. Of course there will always be room for improvements but I’d like to think that like the lotus flower or Koi fish that fight for better days, I’m also going to continue to rise and prevail.

My goal is to get through this competition the way I get on in life, with the most grace and finesse as possible while also making sure to stop and smell (or eat) the flowers as often as the waves of time allows. Anything else is, shall we say… meant for other fish in the pond.

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