A highlight of the Tokyo Nail Expo is the Nail Art Tip Award, where artists make a set of five nails according to a predetermined theme. Previous themes have included “Adult Punk,” “Traditons of Japan,” and this year’s theme, though hard to translate, is something along the lines of “Japanese Orange: Fresh Mandarin Orange-Like Impression.” I assure you, it sounds better in Japanese.
Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the entrance. The artist can choose any shape or size nail they want as long as it fits in the regulation size box, and some of the nails are truly works of art while others are…not.
1. Nice work here, But I’m not getting any mandarin orange like freshness impressions. Nope.
2. A cute idea, and they did incorporate the orange, but you need to bring more to something to a competition this fierce.
3. I really like the striking colors on this one, they’re very Japanese retro. Picture every hospital waiting room in the northern countryside, and this would pretty much be those color selections. I personally happen to like these types of colors, and the design is eye-catching, but I need something else. Maybe I’m just too extra when it comes to nails?
4. Beautifully rendered intricate bird design, this must have taken hours to do. Top quality work but I wish the orange had a little more punch to it.
5. Pale orange kimono pattern. Nice but uninspired. Has the artist not seen the entries in the past? You got to really push yourself to the limit and do something crazy! At least give us a 3D bloobala or something…
6. A pleasant beach/mountain scene? These feature some very well-done tiny adorable oranges, and an orange blossom. Thumbs up for sticking with the theme, but the nails are a little visually confusing. They could’ve given a couple of their 3D bloobalas to number five and I think everyone would’ve been better for it.
Now we’re getting into some more intricate entries.
7. Somehow, this artist managed to pull off smoky gray and orange in the same nail. I really like this design-somehow it manages to avoid looking too Halloween-y But is also kind of dark and mysterious. Check out the intricate geometric pattern-My hands will never be that steady.
8. Got some ombre citrus colored swirlies going on here. The sculpture work on the top is simply fantastic, but I wish there could’ve been a little teeny orange in there somewhere. I don’t know if they assembled the parts separately and added it on or did it in place, but this is some top level work.
10. A very kawaii pastel entry here with some actual citrus fruits, which I’m glad to see. It appears these citrus fruits are having some kind of adorable baby shower? Maybe they don’t know if your having a boy Mandarin or a girl Mandarin, so they covered all the bases. Nice work and the colors go very well together.
11. Traditional figures from Japanese history in various shades of orange. Well rendered, but aside from the color, we need a little more citrus action in here.
12. The ever present flower and/or butterfly entry. You all know how I feel about these butterfly:flower nails, so I won’t reiterate my dislike. They did use orange so some effort was made, but this one is not gonna make it into the finals.
That’s the first 12, we’ve got a bunch more to go! I’m on my way to go chill out a Japanese hot spring, so I’ll update if I feel ambitious, but it’s equally likely I will crash after a delicious dinner and a hot bath. Unfortunately, due to the timing of the nail show this year and my other work, as soon as I’m used to Japan time it will be time to turn around and go back to New York City. The 14 hour jet leg is the worst!