The first phase of the second-annual Essie’s nail art contest is in full swing. If you haven’t already entered, you should. To answer why, we enlisted the help of Harli Hall, Essie’s 2016 nail art ambassador and winner of last year’s contest, to share all the details about her experience, along with some sound advice for mani mavens who need a little heart to heart before taking the plunge in this four-phase nail art adventure.
Spoiler alert: Just got for it!
Nail It: How has your career taken off since winning The Essie’s?
Harli Hall: I’ve been able to do things I would have never had the opportunity to – like a TeenVOGUE shoot, working at NYFW, nail art how-to videos with the Essie brand and traveling to New York for all of these events. It has been such a fun whirlwind!
NI: Looking back at the application process, did you have any fear or doubts about participating in this contest? If so, what did you tell yourself to enter?
HH: Oh my gosh – yes! I had no idea who I would be up against and there’s always that fear of not winning. Once I found out I was in the top ten, my initial excitement was immediately followed with stress, because I had the smallest social following out of all the other finalists.
It was all worth it! I knew if I didn’t enter and give it a chance I would always regret it. I literally cried when I got the first email because I didn’t even think I would make it through the first round and now here I am, a judge for this year’s essie’s!
NI: What’s your best advice for this year’s participants?
HH: Go with your gut! It’s worth taking every opportunity because you never know how it’ll turn out. Do your best work – stay true to yourself!
NI: The Essies require artists to be innovative and be aware of trends to set them, do you have any tips or recommendations for finding inspiration?
HH: Things just pop into my head – I have a little nail book that I carry everywhere. I doodle the nail art design out and then I try it out! It doesn’t come from anywhere specific – I find inspiration everywhere. I’m always on the lookout!
NI: What Instagram accounts are you following now for inspiration?
HH: I follow Miss Ladyfinger of course, Lauren’s List, Michelle Saunders and Jauntyjuli. Besides nail focused accounts, I also follow a lot of travel accounts because different places have different color schemes and vibes that inspire my nail designs. Also, essie.com has amazing nail art design inspo.
NI: What do you do when you have a nail art block (when you can’t think of what design to create)?
HH: That’s when my nail art book comes in handy! I can just refer back to it and find a design I’ve already thought of and don’t have to worry about a block. It literally has hundreds of nail designs in it and I’m constantly adding to it!
NI: Describe your nail art before entering the contest, describe your nail art during the contest and describe your nail art after winning?
HH: Before, my nail art wasn’t as neat and I would replicate other’s designs more frequently versus creating my own. I really like negative space and other trendy nail art designs. Since finishing nail school and participating in the essie’s, I have taken more time to perfect my technique. I’m so much more confident with my nail design abilities now and much more adventurous with trying new things.
NI: What nail art look are you most proud of and why?
I figured out a way to do this design that looks so complicated but is actually really easy!
Everyone tells me they love this one! It was for essie’s summer 2016 collection and I felt like it really represented the collection theme.
Here’s the design I did for the Essies finals! The video I filmed is up on the Essie website & also on my YouTube channel. You can follow the link in my bio to vote for me as “fan favorite” if you like my video & the design I created! We will find out June 6th who the overall winner is! Thank you all so much!
I did this one for the essie’s finals – I was traveling in Germany when I found out I made the finals, so I came up with this in my head while traveling. The first time I tried it was actually during the filming of the finals and then it ended up winning!
NI: Your favorite essie nail polish color combination is. . .
NI: When you are not working on nails you are . . .
HH: I live in Utah so I enjoy outdoor activities – I hike a lot, trail running, fishing, camping. My husband and I are very involved in community events like cultural festivals near our home.
NI: List one reason why mani mavens who love Essie and nail art should enter this contest:
HH: It is such a good experience – I’ve grown so much as a nail artist and I have met many other people who share the same interest in nail art. If you have even an inkling to enter the Essie’s, go for it!
[Images: Courtesy of Essie, Harli Hall]