Interview with Kelli of The Nail Polish Challenge

Interview with Kelli of The Nail Polish Challenge


This week, we’re excited to interview Kelli from The Nail Polish Challenge! We love the sophisticated simplicity of Kelli’s designs, best demonstrated through her use of geometric patterns, gradients, striping, chevron, and splatter. Older Nailpolis members may remember that she was the judge of Nailpolis’ Spring Awakening nail art contest. You can find a lot of her beautiful designs in her Nailpolis gallery.

Kelli is currently 22 years old, living in New Jersey, USA. She recently graduated from college, and is working in the field of communications. She’s been blogging for around three years now, and loves it more and more every day!

How did you first get into nail art?

One day a few summers ago, I was bored and watching DIY videos, and I came across a video on how to water marble your nails. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I immediately drove to the mall, bought six random OPI polishes, and tried it for myself. I’m sure it looked awful, but I LOVED the result, and I did water marbles with different combinations of those six polishes for a few weeks until I decided to look online again to see if there was any other cool nail art I could try. Then, I stumbled onto some nail art blogs and my obsession (and collection of polishes) slowly grew from there!
After a few months of nail obsession, my mom casually mentioned to me that it was a shame that I changed my nail polish so often, because people didn’t always get a chance to see my designs, and that’s when I decided to start The Nail Polish Challenge as a way of showcasing my nail art. It’s an incredible hobby, because it not only gives me a creative outlet for all of my ideas, but it’s also an opportunity to share something special with people who have similar interests. I’ve met so many wonderful people since my journey began.

Penguin nail art

How many bottles of nail polish do you own?

I’m too scared to count how many polishes I have, haha! I counted over four hundred in January, and I’ve definitely gotten at least a hundred more polishes since then. I store my polishes in drawers, and each drawer has it’s own brand, organized by color.

I also keep my “indies” (independently made polishes) on this beautiful rotating polish rack that my boyfriend made me for Christmas. I think I own more OPI than any other brand; I think they have the perfect brush for easy polishing!


Watermelon nails




If you could ONLY own 3 bottles of nail polish for the rest of your life (I know this sounds frightening and I hope it never happens), which ones would they be?

That is a frightening thought! I would have to pick three different types of polishes –

  1. definitely a soft neutral that I could wear anytime, like OPI Chillin’ Like A Villain;
  2. a bold and fun color for wearing at night, like Zoya Dream (which has this gorgeous scattered holographic effect);
  3. and of course, a bright, fun color for daytime outings, like China Glaze Lotus Begin.

I don’t think I would be able to do any nail art though, because these colors don’t really match!

Neon ikat nails

Where do you usually find your nail art inspiration and ideas?

I think color is my biggest inspiration for nail art, as strange as that may sound.

When I see people wearing certain colors together, or designs with unique color schemes, it inspires me to pair them together for a nail art look.

Sometimes, I will pick out two or three polishes that look good together, without even having a design in mind, and then I will think to myself, “alright, what can I do with these colors?” And then I just let the ideas come to me.

I like to paint colors next to each other on scraps of paper to see how they look together. (And I’m such a hoarder, I have tons of painted scraps all over my nail desk with different polishes I want to use together in a nail art design!) I think a lot of that comes from my background as a graphic designer – I spend a lot of time working on color schemes, so naturally that translates to my nails as well.

Purple striping tape nail art

What are your tips for nail art beginners?

I know everyone says it, but practice really is the only way to improve at anything. I think I have been constantly painting my nails for the past three years (and trust me, I was pretty bad at it for the first two years!)

Nobody starts off as an incredible artist; there’s definitely a learning curve to creating art on such a small canvas.

Don’t get overwhelmed with complicated designs – use tape or toothpicks to come up with simple but creative designs, and practice them until you get them right!

I also recommend watching nail tutorial videos to get inspiration and learn new techniques.

And if you’re a blogger, my biggest tip is this: don’t do what you think people will like – paint what inspires you! If you prefer to keep your nails a solid color, do that! If you dream of trying intricate nail art designs, just keep trying and practicing until you get it right. So many people get caught up with the number of followers or likes they have, and they start to forget to enjoy the process.

Neon dotticure gradient nails

What are some nail art tools that you use most frequently?

I think my most recent obsession is gradient nail art, so I have been using cosmetic sponges a lot! I buy big packages of those little white makeup sponges from my local convenience store; they work perfectly for making gradients on your nails. Lately, I have been using toothpicks to create intricate designs on my nails, too. And of course, I always use my dotting tools and striping tape.

Incoco nail art

How do you keep your nails and cuticles healthy?

People always ask me this, but everyone who knows me well knows that I am constantly moisturizing my hands and nails with lotion and cuticle oil!

I keep products with me at all times for moisturizing on the go, and I love using heavy duty products on my hands at night before bed so the moisture soaks in while I sleep.

I actually recently wrote a big blog post about my favorite nail and hand care products.

Who are your favorite nail artists?

Lately, I have been loving Wondrously Polished: she does such incredible, intricate nail art. Her designs look like oil paintings to me!

For a great mix of swatches and nail art, I love to read Will Paint Nails for Food. Her nail beds are just perfect.

And of course, I can’t buy a polish without seeing swatches from Fashion Polish first! She does great nail polish collection reviews, and her swatches are always flawless.

Pink paint splatter nails

When you’re not painting your nails, what’s a typical day in your life like?

Well, I work from 9-5 on weekdays, but I’m lucky enough to live by the shore, so I get to spend a lot of time on the beach. Usually, I will spend weekdays after work painting my nails and enjoying the company of my family. But on weekends I get to go out with friends, and my boyfriend. We all love taking trips to Atlantic City (which is the miniature, New Jersey version of Las Vegas!)

Tell us a funny or interesting fact about yourself.

Fun fact about me: I was actually a film major in college. I planned on getting into graphic design, but I found myself really interested in filmmaking and the creative process that goes into it! I plan to incorporate that into my blog soon, so stay tuned ;)


Grungy floral nails


Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you, Kelli! We learned a lot of new things. We hope you enjoyed this interview, and don’t forget to visit Kelli’s blog and follow her nail art on Nailpolis!