With pop art illustrations, miniature geometric prints, detailed portraits and 3D sculptures, nail designs created by Mei Kawajiri really justify the term ‘nail art’. In fact ‘nail fine art’ would be more appropriate to describe these hand painted, photo-realistic images painted without stencils or stickers. In 2012 Mei left her Tokyo salon to pursue her dreams in New York. In just 2 years she has become one the industry’s most sought after nail artists. Heidi Klum, Lana Del Rey, Hannah Bronfman and Brooke Candy – are just a few of Mei’s clients.
Today she shares some of her nail art secrets and a few helpful career tips. So read on lovelies, and make sure you scroll through the gallery to see her amazing work!
NAIL FILE: Mei Kawajiri, freelance nail artist Nails by Mei, USA
1. How and when did you get into the industry? I went to cosmetology school and then started to work as a nail artist when I was 19 years old. I was always interested in art and although I had never had my nails done by someone, nail art just felt like an exciting medium. I love it and never get bored!
2. Highlights of your career, achievements? A couple of months ago I worked on a collaboration with Google. I created an app for their Android watches using my original drawings. Drawing is one of my favorite forms of artistic expression so being able to do that for a company like Google was an amazing experience.
3. Nail care product you can’t live without right now is… Butter London cuticle oil.
4. The best nail care tip? Most of my clients get gel manicures and I always tell them not to peel it off! And even better than having it removed in a salon is to do it at home! Then apply a good base coat and cuticle oil. Your nails should be strong and ready for the next time you get a manicure or gel!
5. Your favourite top coat? Seche Vite.
6. Your favourite nail strengthener? Esmalte Endurecedor para Uñas.
7. The worst thing for your nails is… Biting them!
8. Favorite pattern? Big letters and faces.
9. Favorite colour combination for a manicure? Clear with black, clear with neon colors, clear with white…. Basically anything with a clear background at the moment!
10. The most adventurous nail art you have ever created? 3D “bubble” nails that I did for myself for Heidi Klum’s annual Halloween party.
11. The most interesting campaign you have ever worked on and why? For the last few Fashion Weeks here in NYC I’ve done the nails for Nicola Formichetti’s brand Nico Panda. Working with Nicola and his entire team is a dream come true, he challenges and inspires me and his designs are so full of life!
12. How do you get inspired for your nail art? I find inspiration all around me – in food, architecture, fashion, music, cartoons, old movies, and of course museums and street art!
14. Your prediction for the new season: what nail designs/colours/effects will be hot in 2015? So far 2015 has been all about experimentation – using new, unusual materials in my nail art. I’ve been playing around with the most amazing little LED light decals from this company called OMG NailStrips.
15. One piece of advice would you give someone wanting to succeed in the industry? Always try to do something NEW! Don’t be afraid to take chances and do something no one has done before. And, enjoy it!
Five Fast Nail Questions:
- Pink or Blue? Pink
- Gel or shellac? Gel
- Studs or Crystals? Studs
- Nail icon? Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Hannah Bronfman
- When in doubt do… Patterns inspired by fashion are always a good go-to!
You can find and follow Mei on Instagram.
Mei Kawajiri was interviewed by Maria Vlezko, March 2015. All images – Mei Kawajiri, @ciaomanhattan2012