When junior Emma Cottle was in seventh grade, she stumbled across a Simply Nailogical’s Youtube channel and watched multiple videos about nail polish techniques for basic nail art. Already an avid artist, Cottle put her newfound knowledge to the test, thus beginning her venture into nail art.

Over the past four years, Cottle has been practicing her skills by learning new techniques and even coming up with a few on her own.  

“I wanted to find a new avenue for my artistic abilities and no one [I know] really does nail art,” Cottle said. “I enjoy the challenge of creating designs on such a small canvas. It’s a different surface to work on, with different techniques, different materials and a different experience in general.”

The general steps to creating a design include applying a base coat and base colors. From there, Cottle spends time drawing more intricate details using acrylic paint or other nail polish shades. Finally, she applies the clear topcoat, securing the design onto her nails.

“There’s less room for error and it is a lot harder to erase since you have to destroy everything to retry it and start the whole process again,” Cottle said. 

Cottle said one of the main reasons more people do not draw designs on their nails is because the time commitment can be difficult to implement into their schedule.

“I think everyone is capable of it if they put enough time and effort, but most people don’t think it’s worth it,” Cottle said. “Most people just don’t have the patience to do this. It takes time to make the actual nail art and it takes time to let it dry in between.”

On average, Cottle spends around four hours to complete a look. She said she usually needs an hour for simpler designs, while more intricate ones require upwards of six hours.

“For me, it’s a distraction from school and homework,” Cottle said. “It lets me feel like I’m doing something productive while also having fun. People enjoy seeing my nail art and it’s fun for me to show people what I’ve done.”