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Here is the challenge we gave the 18 semifinalists:

In the spring, Swarovski held an event where they discussed trends for 2018. Choose one of these trends to inspire your next pre-challenge design: http://www.nailsmag.com/blogpost/117880/swarovski-talks-trends. Swarovski is providing a lookbook with more information about these trends. Use Swarovski crystals as well as hand painting to show the judges a fresh nail art design that’s sure to set trends in 2018 based on one of their predictions. The design must be done on one actual hand (nail tips were allowed to be applied to the model's hand). Explain why you chose the trend you did and how your nail art exemplifies this trend in a 300 word description and 3-5 minute video diary.

Email me a high resolution photo of your final creation on a white background with no props as well as a link to your YouTube video.

Judging:

You’ll be judging each entry in five different categories:

1.  Final nail design (This is where you’re judging the actual nail art/design)

2.  Quality of demo (How is the video?)

3. Technique (Is the contestant using advanced skills and techniques? Is he/she editing himself/herself well? Is he/she challenging himself/herself?)

4.  Challenge guidelines (How well did the contestant meet the requirements of the challenge?)

5.  Professionalism (If applicable, was the contestant’s station tidy and clean? Was he/she using professional nail products/systems as they should be used? Is he/she using correct terminology and using up-to-date knowledge of techniques? Does he/she represent the nail industry at its finest? Does he/she have a polished presentation?)

For each of these above five categories, you’ll give the contestants a 1-10 (10 being highest). There is a place for comments, but at this early stage, you don’t have to leave comments. But you can if you’d like.

We will be eliminating 6 of these contestants this week, so please judge thoughtfully and carefully. Remember, the remaining 12 will go on to regular play in January.

Use the below two links for judging (we had to split the forms). Please submit your scores to me no later than 9 AM on Thursday, November 16.

Form 1

Form 2

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Ashley Thornton (Stoughton, Wis.)

I chose the set "No Normal." The title alone spoke to me! As a nail artist I like to push the boundaries and challenge what clients think is normal in a way that offers them truly unique nails! I myself wear unusual shapes and art so this set was definitely for me. I did a lot of research on Swarovski's trend predictions. I found many articles written by others on these predictions and found important keywords in every single one. These keywords included "off balance" "off kilter" "nontraditional", an emphasis on showing off unexpected detailing on the underside of garments and functionality such as parts that can detach completely. In the brochure Swarovski sent, phrases like "unexpected pairings" "embracing a different perspective" "open to change" and "no boundaries or definitions" equally caught my attention. I love the play on gender neutral, shapes, and texture. You will find a little of all these phrases on each nail in my piece. The pinky represents gender neutral or back to basics, it's clean cut and sophisticated garnished with Swarovski pears. The ring finger represents detaching from yesterday's standard, adapting to the daily demands as our way of living our daily lives is altered by a change in society. This is represented in the Swarovski crystal pendant charm that dangles from the nail, the general shape of the ring finger nail is inspired from the necklace found in the brochure while the marble design is a play on textures. The middle finger represents unexpected pairings. You can clearly see this with the texture the Swarovski pearls create when gel-polish is coated over them and placed next to the hand painted lace. The ring finger represents a play on minimal meets maximum. The outside of the nail is clean and simple, a gender neutral design. However, the inside of the nail bursts at the seams with color and texture! The pointer finger is of course based on the beautiful ruffled shirt in the brochure. Lastly, the thumb nail is based off the title of this prediction set. You can see #NoNormal written on the underside of the nail again garnished with Swarovski pearls and ab stones. Again a play on textures is taken into effect with the pixie crystals on top.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Ashton Harlan (Las Vegas)

I was instantly inspired by the No Normal category in the Swarovski brochure. I loved the idea of unexpected combinations and the fusing of edgy with graceful. Right away I knew I wanted to combine sharp lines and angles with a floral print. I also loved the white shirt in the inspiration pictures which had random crystal placement throughout the shoulder. I decided to mimic that idea on the ring finger and thumb and applied the Swarovski crystals over a basic color-blocking pattern. I was most inspired by the genderless aspect of this topic and how the world is becoming more open-minded. With men fronting makeup campaigns that are traditionally for women, I decided that I would paint a deconstructed man (index finger) and woman (ring finger) wearing the same looks. For the female nail I placed her in front of the traditional line pattern because her look is already accepted in society. For the male look, I placed him behind the traditional lines but faded the edges to offer hope that one day his look will be equally accepted. Next I transformed some of my flower petals to butterfly wings. Much of this category reminded me of my favorite artist, Salvador Dali. With his wonderfully unique combinations and his view of the world I knew I had to add my own Dali aspect. I personally love his use of butterfly wings and because butterflies also symbolize transformation I decided that fit in perfectly with the No Normal category. By adding the butterflies it allowed me to give reference to Salvador Dali's brilliant artwork, and to enhance Swarovski's New Perspectives theme. 

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Carly Snyr (Toledo, Ohio)

The trend my nails were inspired by was “No Normal." On the first couple pages of the lookbook there is a quote stating, “Within the story lies the Brilliance." This quote spoke to me because I have quite the story to tell. If there is anything to know about me it’s that I’m NOT normal. But what does being normal mean today? Being a millennial, I was drawn to these concepts undoubtably because some of these looks are made specifically to target this generation. I love how the theme inspires you to be yourself, the more different, dramatic, and original the better. All four trends were categorized by one entire concept called “The Paradigm Tilt." I wanted to make sure that I incorporated this concept in my nails as I created 2 of my nails with a “Tilted” shape. Most of my designs were inspired by the multi-dimensional figures and perspectives. There was a lot of looks that had very big dramatic cloth and sheer pieces that allowed you to see what was underneath. Andy Farrow’s design on page 25 inspired my pinky nail which portrays his necklace. I formed my crystals to look like it was looping around the nail in a fluid line. I coated my nails in different shapes, colors, and sizes of crystals to portray minimal and maximalism. I connected my own story and was inspired by Swarovski’s to create this one-of-a-kind manicure.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Charnell Mitchie (Bulls, New Zealand)

From The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to neon geometric windbreakers, donned jeans, plaid skirts and the bandana redeemed by 2pac, the '90s was a decade that united many genres. It was also a time where well known brands like Nike and Tommy Hilfiger found their jam. For this challenge we were given a brochure with predicted trends for 2018 by Swarovski. I was instantly drawn to the “GANG STAR” look. The description of bright bold colours inspired by street wear took me back to my childhood and inspired me to relive it through my design. So with that in mind, each nail is inspired by garments from the '90s era with the exception of a boombox. This challenge was sponsored by Swarovski so I wanted the crystals to complement the nails without taking away too much distraction from the nail art while keeping them wearable.  

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Dana Cecil (Dover, Ohio)

I’m super excited to be working with my Swarovski products again for this challenge. Choosing just one of Swarovki’s trends was very difficult. As a creative person, I naturally wanted to create one of each. But one did draw me in more than the others: “Hacked Nature.”  If you don’t already know, I am a nature girl. I love being outside. Especially in warm weather. So the fact that Hacked Nature has a tropical feel was perfect! Not only does it involve warm, bold colors, but it uses contrasting shapes, and elements that are man-made to form “bold new impressions out of seemingly polar opposites, as our increasingly digital world fuels a growing desire for a deeper connection with nature”(from Swarovski’s Innovations & Inspirations Brochure).

I wanted a refreshing look for my nails to oppose the bold shapes I was going to design on top. So I chose to watercolor a jungle-scape of tropical leaves in blues and greens. I enjoyed adding in the bold dark shapes, along with the gold accents. One of my favorite parts was adding the cluster of crystals to my thumbnail. This design was inspired by the necklace in the brochure, and the crystals over the gold nail create that hyper-sensorial look that is mentioned in the trend outlook. The inspiration behind the underside of the nail was from a blouse that was too amazing not to design something after. "Fruity Orange” CrystalPixie was the absolute perfect element to add onto red polish for that look. I had a difficult time deciding on a pinky nail design, but went with a tropical plant, Birds of Paradise. It helped to tie everything together! I know we will be seeing some of the trends from my design in Spring & Summer 2018! 

Pablo Picasso’s words have become reality: “Everything you can imagine is real”(from Swarovski’s Innovations & Inspirations Brochure).

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Halley Fortenberry (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)

For this pre-challenge, I wanted to embody the poisonous rarities of the Amazon Rainforest. My goal was to relate the chosen theme, "Hacked Nature," with how poison "hacks" the human body as a virus would infect and destroy technology. I chose to balance nature and technology-inspired hand painted artwork with Swarovski crystal placement. I decided to stay within the parameters of the challenge specifications by creating complexity with the unique nail shapes. I wanted the aerial view of the nails to appear one way, while the side view looks to be a mixture of technology's straight edge points and nature's organic curves. Once I filed the extensions to perfection, I began the designing process. As the focal point, I felt that nothing would be more fitting than a splash-back poison dart frog (Ranitomeya Variabilis), whose striking coloration exudes the look of poison. To integrate technology with him, I depicted him levitating. A swarovski crystal represents the highly venomous alkaloid poison that he will inflict if you disturb him. As the background I chose a circuit board pattern to give the illusion that the foliage is inside a computer. For the organic attributes of this design, I kept the theme going with some hanging Angel's Trumpets, which originated in the amazon. If ingested, it can cause paralysis, convulsions, and even put you in a coma. I added binary coding falling from the tips of the index and ring fingers to further the hi-tech vibe as they fall into the dragonfly. 

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Hemi Park (Cupertino, Calif.)

My chosen theme for this challenge is the Spell Bound. I was very drawn to the images and colors that were in the trend report, the most interesting thing that grabbed my attention was metallic colors of Swarovski crystals in the color chart. I decided to create nails that look like pieces of jewelry and extend out from the fingers with tones of manipulated base metals like titanium and brass, and adding a touch of Baroque style patterns. I wanted to really showcase a mysterious component in my set but also wanted to really balance the lightings, textures, and Swarovski design throughout my whole set, so it was very important to not to have my nail base to be too overpowering. I used different shapes of Swarovski crystals but I didn’t want my set to be too colorful. My color palette was shades of green, blue, purple, and gold, but in darker shades to balance them with Crystal clear and Dorado Swarovski crystals. I used some vintage Swarovski crystals, and I unfoiled the backs prior to the challenge. Unfoiled Swarovski crystals added so much life to my rather extravagant crystal designs, because some will act as a magnifying glass to accentuate mattified chrome base colors, and some added different lighting texture to the entire nails. For example the ring finger has a lot of Swarovski crystals toward the free edge of stiletto, but it doesn’t look too heavy nor take your eyes away from the pointy tip of the nail shape. I also have used Swarovski crystal beads in the design. Some nails were created shorter intentionally so I could balance the length with beads and add more drama to the design. I have also used many different shapes of Swarovski crystals to add a touch of visual disturbance but I also wanted my nails to have different light reflections. Finally Swarovski crystal pixies we’re added as final touch for adding extra sparkle and for tighter looking settings between each crystals.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Jenna Jupin (Odense, Denmark)

I chose to make a hand of stiletto nails in the shapes of butterfly wings and leaves. The reason why I chose stiletto, is to make the nails create the look of the the tropical flower Bird of Paradise when placed together. I created the life cycles of a butterfly, going from eggs, to caterpillar, to methamorphisis. A butterfly's eggs are layed on a leaf on the thumb, morphing into a hypernatural blinged-out caterpillar. The leaf-shaped nails have real dried leaves encapsuled. The butterfly life is all about formation and eating the nectar of flowers. Its wings are filled with real dried flowers making bright ombré. To hack the theme I chose the opposite of black, which you always see when painting butterflies. So I used bold white lines. I created the trends using homemade Chalk White Crystal Pixie, making the Flower Ombré and a new extreme shape: Leaf.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Jennifer Wirth (Waunakee, Wis.)

 

Abandoned train cars along a Wisconsin rustic road in the green of summer was so unexpected and beautiful that I stopped and took pictures. Urban decay and nature. I thought, I’m going to use this as inspiration on nails someday---so here it is!

I chose Gang Star for this pre-challenge. I imagined the word "Swarovski" as a “tag” on a train car. My model for this challenge is my 20-year-old college student granddaughter. Her gang is the team of internet security techs she works with while attending college. The symbol, (#!)  shebang, is used in her computer coding so we added it to her nails as a signal to others of her profession.Transfer foils in copper, gold, and matte gold were used to bring light to the nails in a random pattern along with well-placed crystals. I added a stencil of adhesive nail art film in a graffiti font that I designed on the computer using the word,” SWAROVSKI”, as another bold element indicating the collaboration for this challenge. I overpainted the stencil with a thin black line of gel paint for pop! The addition of a thin, hard gel, free edge “halo” extension on the nails is meant as a statement piece of wearable art, for the placement of larger stones. I added the “halo” after designing the entire natural nail with gel polish, metallic gel paints, and pigment powders of different hues according to the Pantone colors for my chosen style. The “halo” can be easily removed by clipping it off where connected the to the natural nail so she can keyboard on Monday morning at her job after her weekend of fun and still enjoy her natural nail manicure for the coming week.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Katey Laurenson (Auckland, New Zealand)

After looking through the gorgeous inspiration book I’ve chosen to go with "spellbound." I really connected with the phrase interplay of light and dark, and thus I created two crystal nails to balance the dark and intense designs of the others. I really fell in love with the looking to the past to forgotten ideas and have tried to incorporate a bit of this into my designs with use of pattern with influences from baroque to crystal and a touch of opulence. Ive mixed some subtle geometrical symbolism and added a touch of magical shining allure with the use of material and methods (chrome effects). I chose to go with the metallic color palette to enhance this. I wanted to make sure my choice of crystals played a part in adding to the story or design element. I really enjoy creating layered or textural elements to my designs.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Katie Barnes (Warwickshire, England)

 

 

 

The trend I chose was Hacked Nature. The catwalk always demonstrates an extreme version of a trend with the high street converting this to wearable. I wanted to create an extreme image showing my trend which can easily be translated into salon wearable nail art, just like catwalk to high street. Celebrities such as Katy Perry and Rihanna have made extreme shapes and length popular and I can see unique shapes such as the butterfly shape, which I used, being shown off by these celebrities in the future. 

I wanted to create a design that was inspired by Hacked Nature as we live in an era where technology is a massive part of our lives. It is important not to forget nature and the true beauty of it, so I wanted to combine natural animal textures such as wings, feathers, and scales with digitalised animal prints. I incorporated these with color, texture, and shapes by hand painting these on a bright ombré background to show bold colors and movement. I got my inspiration from Alexander McQueen and his moth-inspired designs. The result is a combination of unique materials, embroideries, floral, animal prints, and gem/bead details for a style inspired by nature. Lana Dumitru designs are a cross between sculpture, style, and tech. A necklace gave me inspiration for the thumb, which combined an ornate gold leaf detailing adorned with crystals. The beaded image from Swarovski gave me the inspiration for red Swarovski beading to be added to give the illusion of red berries surrounding the leaf design. Mary Katrantzou designs gave me the inspiration for the textured material from a friendship bracelet in her SS18 collection.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Kostadina Tsihlas (Roslyn Heights, N.Y.)

The trend that I chose was GANG STAR. When I saw the phrase I was pretty sure that I would do nails inspired by this trend because it’s my style! I listen to and love hip-hop music, I like the style of the colors, hats, gold jewelry, and diamonds. Graffiti is an art that I really like. As a street style of art  I decided to do my nails based on that.  From the brochure at page 14 I got inspired from the French Bulldog and turned him into a rapper. I painted a radio, a tape, and a skull listening to music because Swarovski’s campaign was full of skulls. The creation of the graffiti on the index finger says ¨NTNA TOP ? ¨ because  we still don’t know the results. I also used the patterns from the clothes of the Gang-star outfits and painted an ¨evil eye¨ with gang star style. I also added the swan on some nails,  the hat, and the polish under my nail. Jay-Z  said a phrase which I got inspired by and created my phrase ¨keeping it real made by Swarovski ¨  under my nails to show that Swarovski’s are the real crystals!

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Kristen Hartley (Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada)

When I was going through the lookbook, there was a lot of either really dark or really light elements. I wanted to capture the transition between the two in my set of nails. I chose No Normal, Hacked Nature, and a little Spellbound. The 2018 Swarovski is all about non-conformity and questioning everything, so why just pick one? I pulled pieces from the three trends to make an entire new one. I manipulated their designs to create randomness in my set, and while doing that, I brought minimalistic designs as well as maximalism. I brought light and colour into the design but I also embraced the darkness. The different colors and shapes create an overload of the senses, which is what I believe Swarovski was trying to achieve with these predicted trends.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Liza Waitzman (San Diego)

 

Of the 4 trends, I chose GANG STAR! Being that I'm a child of the late '80s and early '90s, I was immediately drawn to that predicted trend. My Gang Star nails were inspired by the pure dopeness of that era! My inspiration board was: Bold, In-Your-Face, Street Art, Graffiti, Loud, Creative Expression, Attitude and a whole lotta BLING! This era was about all of that. Think 8'0s and '90s Hip Hop and Gang Rap culture, that's where my nail attitude goes with this set. That whole vibe is about being flashy, having attitude, and making a point either about what you believe in, who you are, or what you rep and where you come from. When I think of the music, a lot of that revolves around Money and Respect in the game.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Sammi Newell (Dawson Creek, British Colmubia, Canada)

Having had some experience on a runway team, I knew that the interpretation of the trends was important. I wanted to create a nail design that could be wearable on the runway as well as the high street. It was important that the nails complemented the look but not take away from the fashion pieces. I was drawn to the beautifully exquisite necklace and a lace dress worn by one of the models in the report and this was my inspiration for the nails. Unexpected pairings of the lace matte and the eccentric caviar strewn metal forms created a dramatic fusion of edgy and graceful. An important feature of these nails is that every single application will be unique and bespoke to each individual wearer.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Trish Johnson (Utica, Mich.)

 

This Top 18 challenge took me back to 1992, from hip-hop to high-fashion. I chose Gang Star, which is based off of '90s hip-hop and gagsta rap, where our bodies become our personal billboards, where gold chains and medallions are the everyday and in which they highlight creative and individual expression. The pieces tell a personal story and give a cultural message, "bigger is better" and encapsulates the entire style direction.

I designed and airbrushed a pair of jeans back in high school in 1992 using graphic symobls and grafiti to highlight my creatve expressions in clothing. Swarovski is right on-track with their predictions, with my 16 year-old daughter being amongst the newest generation, sporting the jeans I created back in the '90s. I used several methods that include a custom glitter ombre fade on the under sides, a pre-made hand-painted Shellac design on pallet paper, chrome pigments, beautiful Swarovski crystal embellishments that resemble bold jewelry, and even included a classy sleek version of the infamous shell toe shoe design.

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Trizia Vargas (Houston, Texas)

Of the four trends Swarovski predicts, the one that spoke to me the most was GangStar.  This trend is inspired by '80s and '90s hip-hop and the fashion that went along with that era. Gangstar is about being an individual and using yourself as a billboard of self-expression. As I read about the trend I instantly knew that I wanted to incorporate one of my favorite mottos, ‘Do You’.  A play on the classic Coca-Cola logo fit the direction I wanted the nails to go in and the color palette assigned to this trend. Lettering is a big deal in street art so it was necessary to have some incorporated. Another aspect I felt was a must-have was paisley print, the challenge was micro fitting the details in such a way that the nail would be easily recognizable as a bandana. My ode to both hip-hop and '90s nostalgia is a very popular image of Bart Simpson as Camron the rapper, complete with a '90s flip phone. Dangling pieces were a '90s staple, so I fashioned a custom charm out of hard gel and detailed it with old English lettering adding more flavor to the nail set.  Swarovski clusters and pieces are placed in new and unique ways  consistent with all four trends and what is currently hot in fashion. Along with the amazing Swarovski pieces that were provided I also added larger Swarovski pieces to really exemplify the bigger is better feel. To adhere them at an angle I used IBD builder gel and then built up the Swarovski clusters. The overall approach to the nail set was to create a set of Gangstar nails in which each nail could inspire a set of its own but was at the same time cohesive and inclusive of as many aspects of the trend as possible. 

Click here to see her tutorial.

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Valerie Ducharme (Montreal, Canada)

I chose the GangStar style. I had no idea how much work this was going to take me to achieve my vision: mixing styles, creating a balance between street style of the '90s and using Swarovski, which is known for its luxury, its refinement,  elegance. No wonder I had to start my project over 4 times. To be find the balance without hiding the paint or damaging the crystals was also a challenge. In other words, the theme made me think of jeans with holes and badges to show colors, sweaters with favourite sports teams, big gold chains, Adidas, the washed-out jeans, and gold teeth. I had to create nails that were like extravagant jewels that could be worn in the evening as well as seen on a catwalk.I reinvented the big gold chain by painting it but I found that by doing so, I was doing it in a way that was taking away the focus on the crystals. The painting I was doing was becoming much too busy, which is why I decided to start all over again by creating rings and building a decorative set of nails. I realized that by simplifying, I  put the accent I wanted on the Swarovski crystals. I added a gold plated effect to accentuate the importance of gold jewelry and gold teeth in the '90s. This started to really take shape and solidified my vision. Once that was done, I opted for the almond shape which was a big thing as well in that era. The only way I could express graffiti was by using logos. The colors really made everything pop!  I drew 18 for the top 18, then my initials, and last but not least, a star. On another nail, I added three lines representing sports garments, This really brought everything together.

Click here to see her tutorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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