For over two decades, Marian Newman has been hailed as the Queen of Nails, and rightly so. The celebrated nail artist has established herself as the definitive voice in an industry inundated with eager creatives. The rise in wacky nail art only caught traction in the past decade. Newman on the other hand, was challenging an otherwise mundane industry with limited room for the outrageous, in the pre-millennium era.
"What I love the most [about nail art] is figuring out how to make something work from a scientific aspect," Newman tells PAPER. "That means I have to understand how products work. This isn't always nail products as I often have to create very unusual effects. Once I had to research how to safely set fire to the nails, and another time was to make fake solid honey."
It's also why she drew the attention of the likes of Maison Margiela, Nick Knight, Dior, Givenchy, and Vivienne Westwood, who were instrumental in pushing her deep into fashion, an industry she currently dictates as the most sought after nail artist. From couture shows, to high-end advertising campaigns, Newman has done it all and has some incredible stories to tell. So when approached to put it all down in an inclusive tell-all, she of course said yes.
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Nailed It: Nails. Fashion. Technique details not just Newman's larger than life projects (including about 50 covers for British Vogue) but also goes deeper into some of the most outrageous celebrity stories working with the likes of Lady Gaga and Kate Moss.
Cited as the "biggest influence in the nail world," through her book that debuted this week, Newman willfully bares some of the best kept secrets and techniques behind her most iconic designs.
PAPER caught up with incredible artist to get a first look at her new book, BTS celebrity stories, and what goes behind her intricate work.
What inspired you to write this book?
Quite honestly I was invited. But after discussing it I realized I had so many stories to tell. It had also been an interesting 20 year experience that, at times, has been a bit of a battle. So many in the fashion industry don't really see the point of nails. But then so many more did see that it could be so many things: from just good grooming through a big statement. I decided it would be fun to share some of those stories.
What are some of the most interesting BTS stories that you talk about in the book?
One of the best things about this job has been the people. I've met so many interesting people and I mean, not just the celebrities, actors, or models but also all the people who come together to create images or films. I think all the stories are interesting but I suppose people are most fascinated by Lady Gaga. "What is she like?" improbably one of the most asked questions I've had. Well, some of my Gaga stories are in the book.
What is the most memorable project you've worked on?
I have been lucky enough to work on so many memorable projects, it's hard to pick just one! I would put the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics with the super models and performers must be up there on the list. So is the first Fashion Rocks in the Albert Hall. But so many more; too many 'pinch me' moments.
How and when did you first get involved in working with nails?
It was by accident and not a plan. It was over 30 years ago when the pro industry was in its infancy and it was the science side of it that hooked me in.
What inspires you to constantly innovate within your work? Do you have a creative process?
My inspiration is to find something new. That is almost impossible these days due to social media as someone somewhere will have done something similar. I tend to revolve my creative process around words and never look at nails on social media for inspiration. I look everywhere else but what I love the most is figuring out how to make something work from a scientific aspect. That means I have to understand how products work. This isn't always nail products as I often have to create very unusual effects. Once I had to research how to safely set fire to the nails, and another time was to make fake solid honey.
Who do you look up to?
Many people — those that have a genius and a dedication. I've had the pleasure to meet geniuses so many times and just been blown away at just how awesome (and usually humble) they are
"Once I had to research how to safely set fire to the nails, and another time was to make fake solid honey."
What is your most important piece of advice for an aspiring nail artist?
Keep learning! You will never know everything. Have an open mind and take on board new developments in the industry. Always ask "why?" and make sure you get the answer. Work hard, be nice and keep that dream alive.
What are some other projects you're working on currently?
Apart from already planning the next fashion season as Couture is not that many weeks away, a project I am really enjoying is working with Swarovski Professional. We have just launched the Crystal Beauty Academy for the UK and this will get rolled out to many other countries soon. We have an educators team of 15 and they are ready to start offering workshops to nail artists. I am the authorized Instructor for now and have lots of plans to inspire the team and add to their repertoire of skills.
Nailed It: Nails. Fashion. Technique is priced at $29.99 and available for purchase here.
Photos courtesy of Aleksandra Kingo