As a nervous nail biter, I have never been an expert on nails. Growing up, my fingernails never stayed painted for long and I wore the chips on my teeth like sprinkles on an ice cream cone. Because of this, my mother never went out of her way to paint my finger nails or teach me how to do it myself. She did paint my toes, though. Luckily, my Floridian toes were a bit too far down for me to nervously gnaw so they remained painted prettily as I walked down the hot asphalt in my jellies or flip flops, snapping the backs of my feet as I sashayed with my newly painted neon nails. As an adult, I am still shamefully a nail biter that is most certainly not steady or ambidextrous enough to do my own. I do know what looks great and how to find an amazing salon, though. Know your strengths, right?

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Being a millenial, I learned to do a steady internet creep at a young age. I would sift through inspiration on Livejournal for hours, saving folders of images that I would either pour over or simply forget and never come back to. Well, I still do that – only now I actually utilize that inspiration. I prep for months ahead of the next fashion season, seeing what is new and creating silly little inspiration Pinboards. No matter how many manicure images I come across, no one does it like my friend Imagine Uhlenbrock in Omaha. On top of being an incredibly creative and talented artist, she has phenomenal politics and it shows in her work.

11737009_10207422760111428_1218162101_n 11736931_10207422776671842_170768967_n11733240_10207422756871347_654695617_nBoom!  Frida-Fucking-Kahlo, chilling on some beautiful nails with a quote and amazing freehand artwork some other nails. Have you ever seen Frida on nails before? This opens up a whole new world, man. How about Gloria Steinem? bell hooks? Maybe Gloria Steinem on one middle finger and Dorothy Pittman-Black on the other. The possibilities are endless and I am happier than ever!  If having someone’s face on your nails isn’t your thing, maybe having natural stones affixed to them is? Imagine has paired beautiful natural stones (turquoise, in this case) with Swarovski crystals to create some really beautiful work.  If you don’t like the bright base, you could do a gorgeous nude mani with interesting crystal designs instead of painted tips.  Nails no longer have to be two dimensional!  Think outside of the box.

11725333_10207422759911423_1680713299_o11696818_10207422777271857_1511779644_n11651163_10207422758711393_659813093_nUhhhh, guys…I can have 3D boobs and butts on my fingers!  I have died and gone to heaven with DJ Assault looping in my head. Tina Belcher would quietly lose her mind.  If amazing 3D-tna aren’t your thing, you can still appreciate the stone work and awesome mermaid-like scales on the other fingers. There are tons of options for patterns and textures that you can incorporate into the vibe that you want to project for the duration of that manicure.  Which asset of your life do you want to celebrate?

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If you are positively tapped out financially, you can take some inspiration from her work and maybe recreate a bit yourself.  If you are in Omaha, save up and get her to work on your nails.  For everyone else, there is good old YouTube and Amazon.  Those tiny little crystals are inexpensive if you are not using high-quality ones like Imagine does and you can find some gold studs to do some basic designs. I see plenty of people freehand designs, but that is absolutely beyond me. For simple nail tip designs, they make stick-on guides that are inexpensive. For some seriously next-level stuff, you can use genuine stones in the form of tiny cabochons that you get from jewelry supply stores or tiny dried flowers that are made specifically for nail art.

When all is said and done, the tiny pieces laid in front of me as I am fighting the cats off the table while I work to create a mini work of art, I’d rather just save up to pay a professional and get a hand massage while I am at it.  Take inspiration from Imagination and go to your favorite salon, chat up your nail tech, and show them some amazing ideas. Follow Imagine on Instagram and “like” Just Imagine Nails on Facebook. If you are in the Omaha area, make sure to book your next appointment with her!