I hoard…ahem, collect nail polish.
I love having manicured nails. But, to be honest, it’s been A HOT MINUTE since I’ve actually sat down and painted my nails, mainly because I’m constantly abusing my hands while changing 20+ diapers daily, washing my hands constantly, and feeding meals to four littles. It seems futile at this stage in my life. But man, do I swoooooon for a really good manicure. And I love love love seeing the incredible nail art people create.
One of my all-time favorite people to follow on social media is Meagan Knight of Tiny Brushes. As an LA-based graphic designer and nail artist, she uses her incredible talents to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces — both on-screen and on-hand.
In 2017, Meagan won The Essie awards, earning the first-place accolade with her colorful design: a birds-eye-view of a seating chart for a concert venue.
Meagan’s impressive and draw-dropping work has taken her all the way to New York Fashion Week, where’s she’s glammed up the nails of models for the high-profile shows of Kate Spade, Brandon Maxwell, and others. She’s even done nail work for a magazine cover! (She also has amazing podcast recs and a killer photo editing tutorial.) Pretty amazing, right?
I felt starstruck talking with Meagan. I am obsessed with her work and couldn’t wait to share more about her artistic journey and experiences in nail design. On today’s Talking Shop, she shares insights into her personal nail style, what essential tools she can’t live without, and her tips for a great at-home manicure. You’re not going to want to miss this!
Everyone, meet Meagan! (Eeeeek! So excited!)
How did you get started as an artist and designer? Was it something you were always interested in?
I think I’ve always been a creative. As a kid, arts and crafts were my jam. In college though, I totally fell into doing graphic design. I was in this weird limbo of being a second semester sophomore with no major until everything hit me. I declared my editing minor around the same time I became good friends with a handful of ultra-creative people, and one of the required classes was a basic graphic design class, so that was that. I was hooked. I should have known. This is truly the only degree that makes sense to me. I can’t see myself doing anything else!
I am obsessed with your nail art. How did you get started in nail design?
Thank you so much! I tell people it’s in my blood–I am Vietnamese; I was born to do this. But really, I give credit to my aunt. She did nails at a nail salon and when I was around eight years old, she hand-painted little American flags on each of my nails for the Fourth of July and I’ve been painting my own nail art ever since. It was a huge bonus that she’d give me old polish or discounted colors too! It made the hobby really inexpensive for me, haha.
Tell us about your experience freelancing for NYFW. What was that like?
Freelancing for NYFW was a dream come true. Going to NYFW is something I’ve wanted to do since I was in middle school. My experiences have always been great! It’s fun, it’s high energy, it’s fast-paced, and everything is beautiful (hair, clothes, make up, etc.). That being said, I’ve found myself crawling and sitting beneath a folding Costco table painting toenails on more than one occasion, so I guess as long as you’re ready to take whatever’s thrown at you, it’s a good time. It’s work, and it’s sweaty and cramped, but it’s a good time.
What has been one of your favorite nail designs?
My plant cells. I was so proud of those…I was determined to use all six colors from an Essie spring collection without directly painting anything floral. It’s been over two years and I still think it’s one of my most creative designs to date. Definitely not the prettiest, but they’re up my alley for sure.
Your all-time favorite nail color?
I imagine this is what it’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child? I’ve got so many but the one that brings me the most joy is Orly’s “Turn It Up.”
Your essential tools?
Tiny brushes, duh. But also, a good clean up brush. Dotting tools are also such a good basic, so I need those too.
How would you describe your personal nail style?
My personal style is very colorful and creative (like an original design that I’ve never seen before, maybe?). Nothing too detailed, nothing plain. I don’t really stick to seasonal colors either, I sort of just paint what I want, when I want.
Outside of nail art, what has been one of your favorite art or design projects/collaborations?
Oh man. Kelly from Studio DIY reached out to me to design some little product round-ups for her site and although it was a small project, I felt like a star because I’ve looked up to Kelly for years and I felt SEEN. Haha. I’m endlessly inspired by her, so it was fun to do the work.
Best tips for an at-home manicure?
Don’t soak your nails for too long! If possible, just wash your hands and use a cuticle softener to soften/push back the cuticles. And ALWAYS use a base & top. It makes a difference!
What has been one of your proudest accomplishments in your career?
Well now that I’m thinking about it, I feel pretty proud of myself every day. Even just influencing others on Instagram to listen to a really good podcast makes me feel accomplished and happy. A few weeks ago I watched my photo editing tutorial blow up for a couple of days and that was really cool. I was proud of myself and proud of the people who tagged me and utilized the information I gave them. But if you want an interesting, more direct answer, I’d say that winning an Essie nail art competition was a gigantic accomplishment for me. I don’t think I would be where I am without their support.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires me! Different countries, beautiful color combinations, Pinterest, Instagram, the kid’s clothing section at Target, you name it.
The Fun Qs:
Latest Hulu/Netflix binge?
Lately, I’ve had NO time for any TV, but I’m hoping to binge “The Politician” ASAP on Netflix, and I want to watch “Looking for Alaska” on Hulu!
Your go-to treat?
Chocolate chip cookies or mini Oreo thins (I think they’re called Oreo thin bites?)
Favorite way to unwind?
Sleeping…does that count?
Your style icon?
Oooh, I have lots, but mostly Alexa Chung and Lucy Boynton.
Dream travel destination?
Tahiti? Bora Bora? Anywhere with a crystal clear ocean!
Follow Meagan’s nail art on Instagram @tinybrushes.