"It’s taken it's sweet time to hit the German capital, but nail art has arrived and it’s here with a vengeance. And leading the Berlin revolution are three true artistes who know nail art literally like the back of their hands. We caught up with them to find out why nails are here to stay." - Harriet Shepard
How long have you been doing nail art, and how did you end up in Berlin?
I grew up in Essex and I was doing nail art there. This is my 10th year in the beauty industry — I don’t know how that’s happened. I moved to Berlin for new adventures really, I had a few friends here and really loved the city.
Was that a difficult transition? I know a lot of Berlin nail artists who’ve had to give it up because they can’t find the clientele….
You definitely have to chisel away at it for sure. I was doing nail art from the start, but it wasn’t like it was in Essex. It would just be people that were coming to Berlin and knew I was here or they were on holiday and knew where to find me through instagram. And then I was in the industry anyway, doing plain manicures and things like that as well on the side. Even now it’s not strictly all nail art, but it’s definitely changed over the last few years.
Yeah, it definitely seems like it’s changing
For sure. Within the last year there’s been ISLA and places opening which is really cool, so that’s a good sign. It’s nice to have a network and other people in the industry — it all feeds into itself. The amount of people who used to ask me, “is this your real job, is this your actual job?” like “yes. Yes it’s a job.” It’s funny how it took so long to catch on, but, you know, it has.
And what’s your clientele like here?
It’s always the guys that are sitting down first at an event, but it’s women that come to the studio. Mainly between 20s and 30s, but it’s quite a broad spectrum — I’ve got women in their late 30s because they’ve got the disposable income. In Berlin there’s a lot of freelancers, so people can do what they want, they’re not restricted by work — they don’t work in banks, or at least not the people that I see. They’re more creative.
What are your favourite kinds of designs to do?
I really like the simple stuff actually. So it doesn’t have to be all studded and striped and glittery. I was doing that a few years ago and I kind of got a bit bored of that. It’s good fun for shoots and beauty editorials and things like that, but with people wanting everyday nails it’s nice to keep it simple, and the whole negative space thing is really popular as well.
So trashy isn’t really your thing…
Trashy can be good! I’ve been known to stick a few Chanel stickers on a nail before (laughs). But I’ve changed, and I’ve grown up a bit since doing it, and probably my clientele has changed as well. German women are more into wearing something every day, it’s a little bit more calm, whereas in England it’s a bit more fun. The nails have definitely calmed down with my location I think.
And what’s the most popular?
People have cottoned on to the idea that if you leave the cuticle area free of colour, their nails last longer, because when it’s grown out you can’t see it. So I’m doing a lot of that at the moment. Different shapes up from the cuticle or fades and that sort of thing.
Why do you think nails play such a big role in the expression of personal style?
Probably because it’s actually accessible to everyone. And you can change it as much as you want. It’s not like getting your haircut where it’s a bit more of a commitment and you’ve got to wait months or however long. If you don’t like your nails you can just change them straight away. You can go as nuts or as simple as you want depending on your mood.
It's official, nails are a thing in Berlin.
Interview with Harriet Shepard
– Harriet is SLEEK’s Junior Editor. She’s currently writing her thesis on immersive installation and has a soft spot for techno, existential art memes and nineties sunglasses.
Photography by Cassidy George
To book a spot in my shiny new Neukölln studio...