Grace Humphries is a fashion insider worth following. Her inspired nail art designs have included everything from heart printed talons, to tie-dye squared off tips, pastel hued leopard print and tortoiseshell lacquered spikes. She’s worked with the hottest celebs, on the coolest brands – including Topshop’s gorgeous summer campaign – and is breaking the mould when it comes to nail creations with her colourful and unique designs. With Topshop HQ enamoured with Humphries’ latest creations to match our range of phone covers, we caught up with her to chat about breaking in to the industry, the power of blogging, and the next big trends.
How did you get into doing nails?
Growing up in Bournemouth I was always into illustrating, art and nails. I then went on and studied illustration at university. I started a blog and posted my nail art, connected with others in the nail art community and started assisting back stage at London Fashion week which is where I was then spotted by the agency I am with today.
Who inspired you on your career journey?
There are so many amazing nail technicians out there and it is a really exciting time as the industry is growing so rapidly, but a long-standing legend in my eyes is Marian Newman. She’s been there from the beginning and her knowledge and experience is something I dream of having one day, I’ve got all her books.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to get into your industry?
Practice, practice, practice! Be a sponge and soak up everything around you. It’s a time consuming job but so worth it when you see your work in magazines and campaigns. I take pictures of things I might come across in everyday life for inspiration and I think social media is really important in this day and age. I try and tweet and instagram as much of my nail art as possible, you never know who might be watching.
We know you do nails for TOPSHOP campaigns – can you tell us about some of your other clients?
I have worked with a really wide selection of celebrities, magazines and clients including Vogue, Elle, i-D, Wonderland, L’Oreal Paris, Stella McCartney, Disney, Iggy Azaeliea, Demi Lovato, and Ella Henderson.
What’s big in nails at the moment?
I think the last few years especially, nails have boomed to a point where literally anything can be recreated on a nail. My kit is full of trinkets such as necklaces, studs, gems, glitter and gold foil, as well as different materials and textured fabric – there is even leather – as it’s important to be prepared for whatever could be creatively asked of me at a shoot. Right now colour-wise everyone is loving pastel shades, neon brights, white and nude nails – and different metallic hues are always around. It obviously varies because of personal taste but the summery shades are definitely in full force.
Can you explain what stiletto nails are?
Stiletto is the shape of the nail, elongated and kind of pointy. Not many people would be lucky enough to grow their natural nails into this shape, so people have enhancements such as acrylic to achieve it, while celebrities such as Lana Del Ray have been famously sporting this look.
What is the nail trend you always get asked to do?
Stiletto nails have been popular for a while now but I think the look is here to stay. Girls are getting more experimental with their nails and wanting to try new things. Private clients and celebrities often have a starting point like a colour scheme in mind, then we’ll chat about it and people trust me to get creative and give them something unique to them.
Can you give us some tips for a good nail look that is easy to create at home?
A simple one to try first off is polkadots, this is easily done with two different shades and a dotting tool. Then you could progress to trying leopard print, and if you fancy getting a bit more crafty, ombre is fairly easy to do at home using two colours and a sponging technique.
Working surrounded by fashion every day must give you lots of ideas on how to style yourself – how would you describe your personal style?
I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy so my style never usually involves me in a dress. I wear trainers every day, as well as being practical and comfy for work I’ve had a bit of an obsession with them since I was about 12. Luckily my feet haven’t grown so I’ve got lots of cool Nike Air Max’s that are hard to come by now. I love high waisted shorts and crop tops for nights out where I like to get glammed up and during the day I normally wear some patterned leggings and a vintage sweatshirt. Streetwear is my favourite style – probably heavily influenced by growing up as a 90’s kid.
If on a shoot, what tunes would you put on?
It would depend on the mood. If it was a time where you don’t want something too in your face I’d put on some old school hip hop J Dilla style, or some R’n’B from when I was young – some of my favourite artists include TLC, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Groove Theory, Brandy and SWV. For something more upbeat but keeping the mood happy I’d stick on some UK Garage or Liquid Drum’N’Bass. I’m into lots of different kinds of music.
Follow Grace Humphries on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook @NailedByGrace