A Deep Dive: Nail Art

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final topic in the A Deep Dive series. Thanks for sticking around long enough for me to gather all my thoughts into written words. If any of you know me in person, you’d know I can talk about this stuff for hours. But writing it all out seems so much more daunting and difficult to organize. My hope with this series was to give you a broader idea of what terminology means in the nail industry and to get a better understanding of how I interpret it.


On that note, this final topic seems to be very controversial amongst nail tech folks.


Nail art, that is.


Ask a handful of nail techs what they think nail art is, and you’ll get a handful of different replies. Nail art is super subjective. No two nail techs do art the same, much like any other kind of artist. Art is based on the individual's comfort levels, skill, and, ultimately, whether it is profitable for them or not.


With the assistance of social media, the spread of nail art has supremely expanded to the eyes of every child, teen, and adult with an interest in nails. What I call “Instagram nails” seem to be the regular expectation of clients. Before social media, most people went to the nail salon with simple expectations...usually a short square with a single color or a French tip. Nail salons met these expectations easily. It was the norm for decades.


Suddenly, apps like Pinterest and Instagram provided content for clients to consume and desire. This desire blew up faster than the nail industry could handle. Now, the expectations are much higher- but the skills were not matching, nor were the price expectations. Clients want the nail art they see online, expect nail techs to instantly have the skills to provide these designs in the same amount of time as before, and to pay the same amount.


Doing nail art was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a nail tech. I didn’t realize how intense the demand for perfection would be and I sought out specialized training and practiced for years to be able to provide unique nails to my clients! I can only imagine the panic in someone’s mind when a client asked them for these incredibly beautiful and detailed nails they see on Instagram- but their experience in nail art extends to a flower made up of five dots.


Can you see where I am going here?


After the first two years in business for myself, struggling to copy the pictures presented to me EXACTLY, I finally realized what I was doing wrong. I was enabling my clients. I wasn’t giving them an accurate representation of my work, and I wasn’t giving them realistic expectations.


Once I identified this problem with myself, I was able to articulate the kind of nail art I do and can provide. If that lost me a client, then it wasn’t meant to be. I learned to treat finding a nail tech like finding a tattoo artist. I even wrote a dedicated blog post about it to help guide people in finding the right nail tech that matches their expectations. There is a nail tech out there for everyone. It will take work and time to find one, but I promise it will be worth it in the end.


Here are some examples of nail art that you may include in your search for a nail tech that will help you find your perfect match.


  1. The Classic: This tech may specialize in French designs, ombres, and single colors. They may utilize nail stickers and tattoos.

  2. The Acrylic Artist: Specializes in art made exclusively with different acrylic powders, encapsulates art.

  3. The Swarovski Queen: Their work incorporates elaborate Swarovski crystal designs, full coverage crystal nails, etc.

  4. The Hand-Painted Artist: Most of their work contains hand-painted designs or uses gel to create designs. They may be anywhere from abstract to extremely realistic.

  5. The Mixed Medium: This artist dabbles in a little bit of everything. They may do some hand-painted, some classic, some crystals here and there, and may throw in the occasional encapsulated art.


There are more subcategories that break down an artist's individual style. It is important to be able to identify what kind of nail art style you want in order to pick the right nail tech. If you are unsure of what kind of nail art a tech does, ASK them. It’s much better to ask too many questions than none at all and be disappointed.


I would identify myself as a Mixed Medium artist that leans toward Hand Painted Art. I always ask clients for their nail art inspiration photos so I can determine whether or not I’m comfortable with the style and can provide them with their dream nails. Being open with communication from the start is key to a satisfied client. They are also a walking billboard of your work, so making sure they represent you as an artist is really important.


Are you a nail art fiend? What nail art style do you think represents your interests best?


Specials thanks if you made it through the entire A Deep Dive series! Now that this series has come to an end, I have some DEEPER topics coming up in future posts. So stay tuned, you (especially my fellow nail techs) won’t want to miss out on the juicy deets!


In the meantime, stay connected and inspired through my Instagram page @kouklamounails.




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