Blogger Spotlight - For Your Nails Only

Image showing illustrated fists reading For Your Nails Only

What do atmospheric science and nails have in common? They are both passions of the artistic talent behind the nail art blog For Your Nails Only, Tara. Tara is the type of nail artist whose work is so unique and unconventional that you can’t even fathom how she creates the masterpieces she does with no official art training. A recent college grad from Cornell University (in you guessed it, atmospheric science), Tara takes Nicole by OPI through all that is the world of nails, blogs, and creative inspiration.

What do you like most about nail lacquer and doing nail art?

I absolutely love that it is an expression of your creativity and your individualism. You can wear nail art and it be super subtle, but you can also wear it to be really crazy like jewelry. I have some design ideas that I want to try that will actually look like jewelry. You can do anything with it. It can be an accessory; it can be a completely different part of your outfit. It’s an expression of anything you want it to be.

Circuit Board Nail ArtHow did you first get into nail art?

I entered a nail art contest for the Daily Nail where I had just learned about water marbling. I sucked at it and in spite of losing, I kind of pushed myself to try and figure out how to do it on my own.

So you started For Your Nails Only because you lost the contest?

Right, I also started For Your Nails Only because I was biting my nails all of the time. I started polishing them every day to avoid biting them. I decided I should show off the colors that I’ve got because I had been reading other blogs that were doing that and I was keeping up with the community, so I started my own.

So your website was originally just swatches and you evolved into doing nail art?

Yep, it was actually within the first couple of posts that I did a nail art one for “Renegade” by Styx that was concert lights. Then I did Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and it pretty much just turned into a nail art blog from nothing.

How did you realize that you could actually do nail art and were phenomenal at it?

I just started pushing myself. The first time I tried a design, I was trying to do the Wizard of Oz and it sucked miserably. But then I got the right tools and I started getting in more practice and I realized I was doing well with some designs. I would push myself for more detail with each new one and I kept growing at it.

What do you think is the hardest part about doing nail art?

It’s probably the frustration of not getting a design exactly how I want it because I’m a perfectionist. I’ll redo a design 10 times if I need to get something right. For example, my Apple shadows design, the apple on it, I couldn’t get the shape right forever. I think I did it like 12 or 15 times before I got the shape of it right, but once you get it done it’s great because you feel like you accomplished something. You’re really proud of the design.

What kind of tools do you use?

Most people use nail art brushes, I don’t. I actually like to use a size 10/0 fine art brush that you can use for oil and water colors. You can find them in a craft store. Usually, I buy them on clearance for like 99 cents. The 10/0 is great because the brush is about the size of a grain of rice. I can do all of my detailed work with that. I use dotting tools, but if you don’t have that you can use a toothpick or something.

Where do you get your inspiration for designs?

I get my inspiration from everyday life. For example, I was just in Pier1 Imports with my family and saw a mosaic table. I take pictures of the things I think are really pretty and neat and I bring those pictures home and later use them for designs. Or nostalgia sometimes inspires designs. Right around Halloween we were talking about the Casper movie and I fell in love with the idea of doing Casper as a design. It’s all about what’s around me at the time. I’m always looking for inspiration.

What are some of your favorite designs you’ve created?

My Italian Filigree bottle is one of my favorites. I love the paua shell design—it’s abalone. I saw a picture on the OPI Facebook page that someone put a picture of abalone up and they wanted to know if a nail polish could be designed to create that texture. So I created a design that looked like it. Other than that, I’d have to say my Nightmare Before Christmas design. I always forget this one, but my Good Eats design was fun too, I like that one a lot.Abalone inspired Nail Art

You polish both of your hands to make sure the design matches?

Yes. When I was in high school I was really bored all the time so I taught myself to be ambidextrous. I always do the nail art on both hands. The only exception is if I get a really bad headache or feel awful. If that happens I’ll paint the same colors on the other hand, but not do the design. That’s rarely the case though.

What makes your nail art different from other blogs or traditional nail artists?

I haven’t had any training at all and because of that I feel like I think outside of the box when it comes to my painting techniques. Because of my lack of training I feel like my nail art is unconventional and refreshing. A lot of people these days go to cosmetology school and they learn the same techniques and they do fantastic nail art but it’s all very similar. What I do is completely off the handle. It also allows me to do things like people and movies and I come with new ideas all of the time.

For someone interested in attempting nail art, what would you suggest to them?

First of all, always start with a good base coat. Because if you are doing nail art for the first couple of times and will have to try a design several times you’ll have to take it off and nail polish will stain really bad if you don’t. The thing is if you don’t have the right tools you won’t be able to do nail art as well. I butchered a few brushes trying to get them to be like nail art brushes. Third, be patient. If you’re going to shake you can put your hand up against a table for balance. Go slow and be patient because it does take practice.

What do you think is the greatest part about having your blog?

I think it’s the reaching out to other people in the world. I get people from Bosnia, from Australia, from India, from Canada. I have this map that shows the different spots where people are from and you see people in the middle of the ocean that are analyzing your blog and checking it out. It’s really great because it makes a really tight knit community of people all across the world. There are so many cultures involved. I actually had to learn a little bit of Portuguese. I speak Spanish, but I had to learn Portuguese because I have a lot of Brazilian people that wanted to talk to me about my blog. I thought it was neat to be able to learn more about them, so they can understand me too.

That’s wonderful. As far as the nail polish community in general goes, how is it and what do you enjoy about being part of the community?

It’s just like a family. There are thousands of blogs out there but I’ve met some really great people. I have some really great personal friends because of this. There are people who will really build you up. They love your work and support you as much as the day is long. They are really there for you and if you have a good network and support system, I mean, yeah you’ll run into a couple catty people here and there but you can avoid the drama and have really wonderful people from all around the world that are there to hang out and talk to you.

Has there been nail art designs fans have requested that you’ve done?

Actually, yeah. Not very many, but I did flowers for spring because a lot of people request that. One thing people request all the time is stamping. And I only do free hand nail art, so I kind of get frustrated with that.

That is weird that they request stamping.

A lot of people have. You would think they would be happy with free hand but no, I guess not.

You would think they would be more impressed and interested in seeing what someone is capable of creating and not just by something you could buy at the store.

I actually had a design that was requested by a fellow blogger, Kimberly from She had this orange polish that she really didn’t like and she thought I could use it for a good pumpkin design and sent it to me. I did the design for her. It was carved out pumpkins.

You partly started For Your Nails Only because you had entered a contest and didn’t win. Have you entered any contests since or been mentioned on different sites?

Yes, I was involved in the OPI Halloween contest. I won with my Nightmare Before Christmas design. I actually entered and won the Color Club spring contest that used all of your product. I was featured in Shape magazine for their 2011 spring nail trends, and I recently found out from one of my blog readers that I was featured in Seventeen magazine on their website as one of their favorite bloggers to check out. That was such an honor because growing up I had a subscription to Seventeen and so to be included on the website was unbelievable. Plus, being included in the OPI calendar was such an honor.

Unique Nail ArtWhat kind of response do you get from people when you go out?

People always comment on them. I have people stop me on the sidewalk asking how I even do it. I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply with my mom with my monarch butterfly nails and the woman at Sally’s was absolutely freaking out about it. I get a lot of really great responses from people.

One thing about bloggers is that many of you have a lot of nail lacquers, how do you store it all?

In the nail polish community there are two big ways to store it. There is the Helmer, which you can buy from IKEA. There is also something we’ve all named a Melmer. If you go to Michael’s, they have these detachable drawer pieces that you can make your own desk with. I actually have three of them that each have three draws and they stack on top of each other. So I have nine drawers and each one holds about 65 polishes. Which is really handy because when you have 600, you need to store them in one place and keep them nicely stored.

If you have 600, how many of those have you used?

Pretty much all of them. I have some that I use more frequently. I absolutely love OPI and Nicole by OPI. It’s my old faithful because of quality and texture and I know the colors by heart. I could list you every one of them that I have. However, I do have other brands and other colors that I can’t get in your brand. I like to grab for those too. I have maybe 15 or 20 that I haven’t really tried.

That’s amazing! 600 lacquers is crazy! So, where do you want to take Four Your Nails Only to in the future?

I was really thinking about doing tutorials but I think it would be hard to do tutorials with my designs because no matter how many times you do them, they will never come out the same. And I guarantee with the amount of detail in my designs it would end up being like a four-hour video. The other problem would be that since people know the conventional methods of nail art they don’t necessarily understand how I do it. I would love if the blog got bigger. I think it would be cool to turn my designs into a coffee table book that you could flip though and see all the designs.

That would be cool. Make it happen, 2012! We spend a lot of time on iPhoto; there are a lot of books to be made.

(Laughing) Absolutely, absolutely.


To see more outstanding designs from For Your Nails Only, click here. 


Ohh cool! Your blog it

Ohh cool! Your blog it great!And OPI it my favorite brand ,can you show more nails art pics?

Ohh cool! Your blog it

Ohh cool! Your blog it great!And OPI it my favorite brand ,can you show more nails art pics?

So Inspirational

I started my own blog after discovering Tara's back in February. I was absolutely amazed at what she could do. She is truly an artist. I only wish one day I can be as great at nail art as Tara. Her work is beautiful beyond belief!

totally love this!!

totally love this!!

Fun & Entertaining

Tara's blog is one of my favorites because I never know what design she has next for us. Whimsical, trendy, yet always fun. Keep doing what your doing! <3 Kimberly Purcell

Great Interview

Tara is Awesome and very talented. I really enjoyed reading this interview. It is nice to get to know a little bit more about Tara and how she started her blog. Thanks for the article and thanks to Tara for sharing her art and talent with all of us. Lydian Flash Master Nail Technician

Awesome Interview

From the time I first saw Tara's nail art, I have been completely in awe of her talent and ability to take a vision and bring it to life on such small pieces of canvas. I couldn't imagine ever wanting to remove any of the incredible designs she has done, and think that a coffee table book would be an amazing way to showcase her mega gift. Congratulations Tara on getting some much-deserved positive recognition!!! Red Stewart

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