While traditional manicures make for a pleasant outing, expressing yourself with some stylish, next-level nail art is the perfect way to take advantage of the mini canvases on your fingertips. As NYC-based nail artist Gina Oh (@ohriginails) puts it, “When you see that your hands are beautiful with beautiful nail art, it just makes everything better.”
Oh has been in the beauty industry for 11 years, but her fascination with nail art started as a child. “I was always into art,” Oh tells In The Know. “Even just stealing my grandmother’s nail polish and doing it on my sister.” Oh lived behind a nail salon and would often bike over to “say hi to the nail ladies” and watch the tiny works of art come to life. “I would look at the nail designs and it would just inspire me,” she says.
After attending cosmetology school, Oh found that the traditional methods for painting nails weren’t satisfying her creative, artistic itch. “It wasn’t really ‘art’ to me,” says the nail artist. “So I felt like I wanted to go more fashion-forward.”
Oh started reading fashion magazines to see what was trending in the fashion world. She would grow inspired by textures, colors and prints, constantly discovering new creative sparks for what would look good on a nail, while also discovering herself as an artist.
“I would say I’m an abstract, more of a contemporary modern nail artist,” she says. Oh thrives on finding the middle grown between “beauty and simplicity,” and loves to “take something complex and really simplify it.”
Oh’s signature style has led to a wide range of clients and fans. “My clientele ranges from like a young college girl just wanting to wear something trendy, to a corporate businesswoman,” says Oh. Oh’s client list also includes celebrities, including actress Cynthia Erivo, whose scene-stealing Met Gala nail look took Oh 12 hours to complete.
Whether Oh’s designs are gracing red carpets or typing college essays, Oh takes the same amount of pride in each of her pieces. “When clients look at their nails and are freaking out, it makes me feel so good,” Oh tells In The Know. “It makes me feel validated as an artist.”
Looking ahead, Oh says that some days she’s “inspired to be an educator,” and some days she thinks about opening her own place. But in any case, Oh is hoping to spread positive messages to the future generation.
“I hope to inspire other people with my story—inspiring them to find their own niche and their own style, and to really hone in on that,” she says. “Find what you love to do and just keep doing that.”
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