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Q+A With Essie’s 2017 Grand Prize Winner Meagan Knight

Q+A With Essie’s 2017 Grand Prize Winner Meagan Knight


By Sigourney Nuñez

Los Angeles-based Meagan Knight is the grand prize winner of the 2017 Essie’s Nail Art Awards. After months of design submissions, get to know the nail artist who reigned supreme and find out how the Essie’s helped her grow personally. 


Nail It!: Are you a nail pro or is this a passion project?

Meagan Knight: I’m definitely not a pro, this is entirely a passion project!

N.I: When you found out about The Essie’s what was your first thought? And how did you decide to enter?

M.K: I found out about the essie’s last year through essie’s Instagram account. I actually entered last year and didn’t even make the top 10, and with good reason–my entry was pretty underwhelming and unoriginal. This year, I was a lot more motivated to enter because 1. I had improved a ton, and 2. I had been following Harli (last year’s winner) and loved to see the adventures she embarked on since winning.

When the time came to submit this year, I completely missed the deadline. I knew it was coming, I just felt like I wasn’t good enough so I didn’t try. A few days later, by miracle, I saw that they had extended the deadline by two weeks and knew it was a sign that I had to enter!

RELATED: Meet Harli Hall, 1st Essie’s Winner and 2016 Nail Art Ambassador

N.I: How did you end up choosing your final design for the entry video?

M.K: After what felt like days of research (probably only a couple hours at most), I ended up being inspired by a pattern I saw on Pinterest and decided to give it my own twist. In most of my designs, I try to be as original as possible. It’s stimulating for my creativity and I enjoy the challenge.

N.I: What’s your process for coming up with designs? Or are you inspired by anything in particular? 

M.K: I’m inspired by other artists of every medium, not just nails. I will often see something and think, “Oh this is really cool, I wonder what it would look like with purple instead of pink,” and that’s how I’ll get started. Lately, a lot of my inspiration has come from the props we use at my work to take product shots. I’ve planned several of my designs based off of what we have in the photo room.

N.I: What was one of your favorite moments from the entire competition?

M.K: This entire competition has had too many favorite moments to count! To be completely honest, winning was the favorite. My plant cell epiphany design was my proudest moment. Aside from winning, my other top favorite moment was the weekend I spent in New York. I had no expectations for what it was going to be like, and truthfully, it was the greatest weekend I could have asked for. Everyone at essie was so welcoming and easy-going. The video shoot was a blast, the food was unparalleled, and I was even able to be a tourist and visit with some of my best friends in my down time.

READ MORE: Advice from Essie’s Nail Art Awards Judge Michelle Saunders

N.I: What about favorite design?

M.K: My plant cells! My pride and joy! Background: The theme for that round was “Spring Trend,” and I really wanted to stick out and make a great impression. I wanted to validate that I could work with any or all six colors and surpass whatever challenge essie could throw at me. I must have come up with over 30 different designs. I was three days away from my deadline and panicking that I’d have to settle on flowers, which wasn’t a bad thing. I just knew that other contestants would be doing those, and that I could do better…especially with my background as a designer. And then late at night as I was browsing the internet for interesting plants, I found a microscopic photo of a leaf. That was all it took for the lightbulb to turn on. It may not be the most feminine or beautiful design, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the most clever one I’ve ever come up with. Plus, I love biology. Win, win, right?


N.I: It seems like you have a great relationship with the finalists, how did that come about?

M.K: The day the finalists were announced, I DM’ed them in a group message to congratulate them. I’m so glad I did, because we messaged each other every day up until our weekend in New York!

N.I: How many designs did you come up before deciding on the final entry look? 

M.K: Shockingly, my final entry design was my first idea.

Watch the video below to learn how to recreate Knight’s winning design:

 N.I: What’s the biggest takeaway from this experience?

M.K: My biggest takeaway from this experience is unrelated to nail art! It’s personal–it’s about my family and friends. This experience has reminded me of how loved I am among my family and friends near and far, and I want them to know how much I appreciate their help. I am so grateful for them! This competition helped me realize I am lucky beyond words.

Follow Essie’s newest brand ambassador on Instagram @tinybrushes and visit for more details. 

[Image: Courtesy of Essie, Meagan Knight]