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14 Black Nail Artists To Follow For Amazing Mani Inspo

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Nail artists give us so much inspo—from their trendsetting runway and red carpet creations to eye-catching designs that have us rushing to our nail techs, phone in hand. If you ask us, they don’t get enough love. Even more so? Black nail artists, who are responsible for pretty much the entire nail art industry. ICYDK, the innovative, complex, and downright gorgeous nail art designs worn by, well, everyone, were born in Black communities and are tied to Black history and culture.

It’s a known fact that hair, makeup, and nail trends created by Black women and men, such as nail art, are heavily appropriated. When it comes to nails, the long, acrylic designs called “stunning” and “stylish” on celebs were often called “unprofessional” when worn by Black women in the workplace. Total double standard, right? And it’s not unique to the nail industry. That’s why it’s important to educate ourselves on where the trends we wear and love come from and to highlight their pioneers in the beauty industry. Continue reading for 14 Black nail artists at the top of their nail game to follow, love, and book for your next nail sesh.

1. Gina Edwards

Some of our earliest nail memories involved Kiss products. As their brand ambassador, celebrity nail stylist and expert Gina Edwards is a pro at creating nails with delightful and detailed accents. From bright base colors adorned in gemstones to adorable heart accents and chic animal prints, Edwards’ designs are fresh, fun, and unforgettable.

2. Lisa Logan

Harlem-based nail pro, Lisa Logan has A-listers like Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, and Queen Latifah on her list of clientele. When she’s not polishing famous fingertips, she’s passionate about inspiring other Black nail artists in her community. Look to Logan for endless nail art inspo and if you’re in town, try booking a sesh at her brick-and-mortar salon, The Nail Suite.

3. Mimi Wilson

Years ago, Mimi Wilson single-handedly started National Nail Art Day with one Instagram post. If that’s not nail love, we don’t know what is. Today, the nail industry expert not only creates killer nail designs featuring gems, pops of color, geometric shapes, and more, she teaches the business of nails, sells customizable press-ons, and owns an online apparel store for nail techs. If you love everything nail art, Wilson has got you covered.

4. Tracyanna Lee

As a nail designer and creator of Colorland Gel, Tracyanna Lee knows that amazing nail art starts with amazing nail color. Her insanely pigmented lacquers are perfect for making detailed nail art designs pop. Check out her Insta for inspo and prepare to lose yourself in bright neons, bold mattes, and impressive three-dimensional shapes. Trust us, once you start scrolling, you can’t stop.

5. Gracie J

Nail extraordinaire Gracie J calls herself a “Nail ARTchitect” and for good reason. You’ve seen her work from editorial shoots to TNT’s hit show Claws, and it’s safe to say everything she touches is dripping with creativity. When she’s not creating stunning works of mani art, she’s designing ready-to-wear press-on nails that are some of the most stylish we’ve seen.

6. Shani Evans

Grey and yellow nail art on Black woman's nails

@nailsbyshani / Instagram

New York City-based nail pro, Shani Evans will skill your long nails, short nails, any size and shape. Think playful prints, chic geometric shapes, foil effect accents, neon pops, and perfect hints of sparkle. Evans is a nail artist at NYC nail hotspot @paintboxnails and teaches her craft at the American Beauty Institute.

7. Aja Walton

Based in Brooklyn, self-taught nail artist Aja Walton is a go-to for pop-style designs inspired by everything from musical artists to designer logos and graphic prints. She’s a fave amongst runway movers and shakers—from Jeremey Scott to Prabal Gurung—and is passionate about pushing boundaries in the nail industry with her out-of-the-box designs.

8. @QueenofNails

This Detroit-based nail artist takes nail art to new heights with looks that are downright magical. Sparkling snowflakes in the winter, sweater weather stiletto nails, and your favorite TV characters (Rick & Morty, anyone?) come to life on acrylic nails that are totally head-turning. Plus, Queen of Nails shares her skills through online classes in case you’re looking to channel your inner nail pro. 

9. Tahsiyn Harley

One look at Bronx-based Tahsiyn Harley’s Insta and you’ve got inspo for every upcoming nail sesh on your calendar. Harley expertly balances neutrals and bright pops of color with splashes of neon on metallics, weaves hypnotizing shapes with fine lines, paints intricate flowers, and so much more. There’s truly something for every mood.

10. Canisheia Sams

Whether you’re into natural nails with some flair or you love going all out with dramatic prints, Canisheia Sams has got you. Sams is a nail pro specializing in unique, hand-painted luxury press-ons and nail care. Her designs range from funky, fluid shapes to abstract nail designs, and beyond. If you’re looking for a pro-level mani without the salon time, shop her collections here.

11. Leanne Woodley

Leanne Woodley’s nail studio is often booked well in advance—and we get it. The New York City-based editorial manicurist does it all—super intricate nail art, enhancements, nail care, and more. Woodley’s nails are mini works of art and she often draws inspo from famous names like Keith Haring, but you’ll also find fun, playful designs inspired by cartoon characters mixed in with tons of chic, runway-worthy looks.

12. Darnell Atkins

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There are few men in nail design—particularly Black men—and they are rarely in the spotlight. Darnell Atkins went viral for his nail art and his desire to carve a space for himself in the nail industry. Atkins strives to break stereotypes as a Black male tech and encourage society to challenge definitions around masculinity.

13. Iman Gabrielle

For nails that are sure to put a smile on your face (and everyone you meet), look to Atlanta-based nail artist Iman Gabrielle. With smiley faces, embellishments, three-dimensional designs, and fun French tip manicures, there’s something to lift every mood.

14. @Tahranailsatl

Head to Atlanta for a mani by nail tech and artist Tahra and you’ll wanna move there for good. Tahra’s mixed patterns and prints are fresh and showstopping, and the textures and embellishments are next-level. If you dream it, we’re betting Tahra can do it.

Want to discover more amazing beauty pros, brands, and products? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
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Pia Bhattacharya
Pia is a New York-based beauty editor at IPSY with over 10 years experience including editorial, public relations, and copywriting. Her work has appeared in SELF magazine, in beauty and branding for Bloomingdale’s, and others.
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Article Last Updated January 27, 2023 12:00 AM