Abby Walton - Nail Art



Talking about Nails with ABBY WALTON

Zoom into Fashion by Clementine Jang

September 2011

I had my nails constantly chipped for 4 years practicing studio art in school, and only recently have I started to paint my nails more passionately. Painting this translucent layer of protein is definitely a thing for some people, and it’s becoming more than just a cosmetic treatment, it’s art. And I believe anyone can make art. Just put away your worries of not being meticulous or creative enough in the closet. Painting nails with nail polish dates back to at least 3000 B.C. You can play up whatever you want to be or whatever you feel inside with these 10 little canvases of yours.

As someone who is interested in nail art, I recently found Abby Walton who is an amazing nail artist. She does her nail art like composing abstract art on a canvas or creating a narrative story for whimsical children’s book.

So, let’s talk about nails with Abby Walton…

Clementine Jang: Who are you? Please tell us about yourself.

Abby Walton: I’m Abby Walton. I’m an artist, and I do prop styling for photo shoots.

CJ: How long have you been living in New York?

AW: I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio, but I’ve been living in New York for 14 years. I live in Brooklyn now.

CJ: Why are you sticking around New York?

AW: Everyone I like is here. I mean, I feel most home here. [She pauses...] My cat lives here [Laughter].

CJ: Where do you get your inspirations?

AW: The patterns I like. Out in the world. On people’s clothes, because it’s usually dedicated to some person. The Internet. Random materials (because I do a lot of production stuff too so I’m making stuff for other people). I would be like: “Oh, I like this material that I’ve been working on, I want to put on my nails.”

CJ: It’s interesting to imagine how you experience and share stories in that short period of time through fingertips with someone. What does nail art mean to you and what makes your nail art unique from others?

AW: I do my nail art as an art project. I don’t do it as a moneymaker. I just got into painting nails because it’s fun to paint tiny and intricate things. But it’s more than just painting nails though. It’s also about interacting with people when I host a salon.

I think my stuff is different because there is more of a story behind. Every set of nails I do, there is a reason why I’ve done them. It has to do with what that person is wearing, what they are into that week, or things that are going on with their pet, etc. I did some nails recently where this girl’s cat had just died so I painted the cat for her. So I think it’s different in that way. It’s not just about the pattern. I mean sometimes it is just someone bringing in an inspirational pattern and I try to copy it. I think it’s a fun challenge. It’s about the challenge, I guess.

It’s also about being so small. I think the image has to become representational, because you can’t do something that’s incredibly detailed and showing every detail. You kind of have to simplify it to make it that tiny.

CJ: What time of the day or week do you like to do your nails?

AW: For my own nails? Way too late at night and it often gets messed up in sleep. But doing salons, I have done all different times, but I really like to do them in the early evening or afternoon on the weekend. If it’s the weekend 3 to 5, but if it’s the weekday 5 to 8.

CJ: Where do you host your nail art salons for clients?

AW: My salons are kind of like one-off events. I don’t host a regular spot. Once I was asked to host a nail salon in Chinatown to work with CONFETTISYSTEM. Their whole installation, the colorfulness of Chinatown and my nails looked super fun and interesting together! So I have a canvas sign I painted that I put up wherever I’m hosting. And I bring around a suitcase with wheels that I can put all the nail supplies in the suitcase.

CJ: A suitcase?

AW: It gets surprisingly heavy with all those glass bottles and stuff, you know. I carry at least 50 of them at a time.

Abby Walton is a creative nail artist and prop stylist working in New York. Her nail salon moves around the city depending on events or stores.


Abby Walton’s Flickr

Written by Clementine Jang

Design by Clementine Jang

Photography Courtesy of Abby Walton


Abby Walton, Nail Art, August 2011, Photography Courtesy Abby Walton

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