As the mesmerising world of nail art continues to grow in popularity online and IRL, those having mastered the craft of meticulously detailing, embellishing, and moulding conceptual pieces onto extraordinarily small surfaces continue to innovate, dramatically expanding the definition of a manicure. Taking a closer look, Something Curated highlights five London and New York-based nail artists who are creating unique works that blur the line between fine art and beauty.
A graduate of Cooper Union, Juan Alvear first began experimenting with the world of nail art during his first year at university, drawing from his painting and sculpture background to develop his fantastical creations. An extension of his broader art practice, Alvear’s foray into nails distinctively marries the outlandish and elegant, appearing as impressive as it is disconcerting. The New York native has worked with performers like avant-garde Venezuelan artist Arca, rapper Rico Nasty, and Spanish popstar Rosalía.
Back in 2017, Tokyo born nail artist Eichi Matsunaga, who studied nail art in Japan, relocated to NYC to pursue his dreams. The artist takes a futuristic and minimal approach to nails, creating handmade robotic details that extend down the fingers of the wearer, putting a focus on hollowed-out tips and uncommon colour palettes, such as metallics with powdery pastels. Matsunaga measures each client’s fingertips and then begins the process, which sometimes takes up to three weeks, creating all the pieces with a 3D printer.
London-based Sylvie Macmillan’s background in model making and special effects led her to the intricacies and precision of doing nails. Her understanding of a broad range of materials has influenced her sculptural and experimental style of manicures and pedicures. Macmillan rarely draws inspiration from existing nail looks but instead opts to pull ideas from points of reference such as cars, nature, occupations, history, crafts and sex toys. Carefully combined inspirations and techniques have been brought together to create nail looks that often put the vulgar and grotesque in a beautiful light.
Ella Frank Simkins
Based in London, Ella Frank Simkins began her career as a body painter, eventually specialising in hands. Highly elaborate and precisely executed, Simkins’s full-hand creations come complete with dripping slime, prosthetic tentacles and razor sharp claws. Reinterpreting the concept of hand jewellery, her mesmerising Swarovski works have garnered much online attention. Simkins notes, executing just one of her creations can take up to eight hours of strategic painting and gluing.
Boasting a fan following including the likes of Bella and Gigi Hadid and Demna Gvasalia, Mei Kawajiri, originally from Kyoto and now based in NYC, has been doing nails for over 15 years. She was once an aspiring tattoo artist, but opted for nail art after realising she changed her tastes too quickly for anything quite so permanent. Among her most viral looks is a set of red nails pierced with an extra set of red nails dangling below, and the tongue-in-cheek “boob manicure,” featuring protruding 3D nipples.
Feature image via @sylviemacmillan.nails