Nail art, the art of decorating nails (real, fake or reconstructed ones), is not new. In Italy, especially in recent years, there has been a real boom and there are many girls keen on colored nail polishes and decorations (including yours truly, who is no longer able to have nails of only one color). However, the Japanese nail art goes beyond the simple application of a polish and some stickers (or the increasingly popular stamping). The nail artists of the East, in fact, use techniques similar to those of decoden or traditional painting, creating real works of art in the enclosed space of a fingernail! Also, in many cases nail art is part of an outfit, like shoes and accessories.
Every year, Japan hosts the Nail Queen Awards. Among the protagonists, Ayumi Hamasaki, the model Tsubasa Masuwaka, Koda Kumi and the pop star Kana Nishino.
The current trend is the stereoscopic nail art, that is three-dimensional! The 3D effect can be achieved simply by coloring the nails in order to emphasize shadows and lights, or you can use small accessories to be applied directly on the fingers, such as flowers, ribbons or other items in plastic, metal chains and even feathers or small pieces of tissue. The most skilled artists, however, are able to produce three-dimensional decorations on the nail (as in this video tutorial), modeling a thick layer of acrylic paint!
Photos from Nail Up! and Nail Max, November 2011 and October 2011.
Another popular trend: do not decorate all the fingers in the same way. Japanese nail artists, in fact, prefer to make “variations on the theme” creating patterns that make every nail different, but in harmony with each other. On this page, we have included some examples of creative nail art, directly from several Japanese specialized magazines. In particular, if you have the chance, I suggest you take a look at Nail Max, who has many tutorials about traditional and stereoscopic nail art.
Some of the winners of NSJ Nail Academy Competition, this year dedicated to Japan and the victims of the earthquake of March. Photo from Nail Max, October 2011.
For some, nail art has become a real profession. In Japan, in fact, there are many specialized salons and some nail artists have become real star, as Eriko Kurosaki and Michiko Matsushita. In addition, since several years, in Tokyo is held the Nail Expo, an international fair dedicated to nail art!
Nail art by Eriko Kurosaki. Photos from Erikonail Collection Catalog.