This week on Nailpolis magazine, we interview Carole from Chasing Shadows, a teacher and nail art hobbyist whose nail art constantly tops the charts of Nailpolis’ Top 100! Her colorful nail art always stands out with a clean and precise finish. Read on to learn more about Carole, her nail art techniques, and her story about how nail art changed her life.
“I consider my nails and face as another kind of canvas, waiting to become ephemeral works of art.”
1. Tell us about yourself!
Hi, I’m Carole, aka Chasing Shadows. I’m a 26 years old swiss teacher. I live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, so please forgive my occasional language mistakes or weird formulations ;-) I’ve always loved the visual arts and all things creative. I like to draw and paint; I consider my nails and face as another kind of canvas, waiting to become ephemeral works of art. My blog is about constantly re-inventing myself through makeup and nail art, as well as experimenting with colors, textures and forms. I think that our external appearance should be a playground and a medium to express our personality; that’s what I try to do with my blog.
2. How did you get into nail art?
When I was younger, I was a gymnast. My nails were usually short, often damaged and therefore always bare. But when I stopped gymnastic, I had the opportunity to let my nails grow and began to paint them. I looked for advice and tutorial on internet about the appropriate way to apply nail polish, and discovered that you could decorate and embellish you nails in numerous ways. The technique of stamping in particular caught my attention; I found it fascinating and decided to try it. It was the beginning of my passion for nail art.
3. Why did you name your blog Chasing Shadows?
This name comes from the lyrics of a song: “Enjoy the Ride” by Morcheeba. It’s a song I love, about the importance of living the present moment. I chose it because it relates to the ephemeral nature of make up and nail art. These are creations characterized by constant change and renewal. And I thought that the fact that the word “shadows” in English also means eyeshadows would add a second meaning to this name.
As a matter of fact, I did a nail art reproducing images from that song’s video clip. It’s a free hand design made with acrylic paint, of which I am rather proud. (see below)
“Our external appearance should be a playground and a medium to express our personality.”
4. What’s the one nail design that you’re most proud of so far, and why?
It was for a space-theed challenge, and I like many things about the way it came out. First it’s a free hand nail art, a technique I find quite difficult, and I managed to paint the design satisfactorily. I also like the space background (I’m a SciFi freak). And I was happy with the story I was able to tell on my nails: the journey of the flying saucer from the alien’s planet to ours and the movement suggested by the nails when put together.
5. Where do you usually find your nail art inspiration?
I like to match my nail arts with my clothes and accessories, or on the contrary to create a contrast, a visual clash with a specific outfit. This means that I often think my manicure in relation to a global look, a kind of fashion statement. But when I work on more “artistic” nail arts, concepts that are not meant to be particularly wearable or reasonable, I just let my imagination work, without limitation. Originality and innovation are very important factors for me; I always want to try new things and to present original ideas to the people who read my blog.
6. Do you plan your designs ahead of time, or are they more improvised?
My nail arts are usually improvised. I have an idea of the global look, the “spirit” I want to achieve, but nothing precise. I adapt to the technical difficulties I encounter, to the way different polishes behave when used for different techniques and to the nails themselves; nails are a very particular medium, irregular and unique. I often have to change my idea in the middle of a nail art, because my original idea doesn’t work or a better one imposes itself.
7. How do you take your nail art photos? (What camera do you use? Do you use a lightbox, any special lens? Any photo editors?)
I recently got a DSLR camera, a Canon 450D. My pictures come out way better with this new camera, it changes everything! As for lighting, it depends on where I am and on the meteorological conditions. Sometimes I just use natural light, but when that’s not bright enough, I take my pictures in a lightbox, or with a flash diffuser. I take my pictures in the RAW format, because it captures more information than JPEG, for example. Then I edit my pictures with Photoshop: I crop them, resize them, adapt the light, etc… I never alter the nail art itself, because the pictures should give a honest idea of my work and what one can achieve with nail art.
8. What are your tips for getting your nail art to look clean and precise, especially with freehand designs?
Well, my first piece of advice is not very original: practice. A lot.
Just like traditional painting or drawing, nail art takes hours of practice to get a steady hand.
Then for free hand designs, I have two words: acrylic paint. I am totally unable to paint delicate patterns or detailed images with nail polish. In my opinion, acrylic paint (ordinary acrylic paint works fine, you don’t even need to by special nail art paint) is the best solution. It can be diluted to paint very fine details, easily layered, and as long as it’s not dry,you can erase it with water and correct your mistakes.
Finally, patience is important. Experience taught me that most often you ruin your design because you don’t wait long enough for your polish or acrylic paint to dry completely. Layers are the key to interesting, complex and deep-looking design, especially with acrylic paint; and layers need to dry at each stage, so give them time.
“Patience is important. Experience taught me that most often you ruin your design because you don’t wait long enough for your polish or acrylic paint to dry completely.”
9. How many bottles of nail polish do you own?
I “only” own about 300 polishes. I know it’s not that much for your average NPA or nail artist :-) but I don’t’ have that much money to spend on nail supplies. And also, I am very careful not to buy any dupes or polishes I would not use for any reason.
10. If you could only own one bottle of nail polish for the rest of your life, which would it be?
I just can’t answer this question. Sorry, it is just impossible for me! I would rather stop wearing polish than wear the same one all my life. What I like the most about nail polish is the diversity and the possibilities of combination, so having only one bottle is an absolute nightmare!
“I would rather stop wearing polish than wear the same one all my life.”
11. What is one nail art tool you wouldn’t survive without?
Maybe my stamping plates. I have more plates than nail polish bottles. I really love stamping and my collection of plates, I could not imagine nail art without stamping.
12. Who is your favorite nail artist?
Again, what a difficult and radical question! If I must give just one name, I would say Coewless Polish, because I have no idea of how she does what she does, it’s just wonderful.! It’s most often free hand nail art, incredibly precise and deliciously inventive.
But there is also this bunch of talented French nail artists which I love: Mary Monkett, Marine Loves Polish, Sois Polish and La Paillette Frondeuse (they are Nailpolis members too, so go check their galleries!).
13. What is your favorite season and why?
My favorite season is winter. I feel better when the weather is cold, and I find snow magical. I also like skiing, I’ve been doing it since I was 5 years old. Moreover, winter is the season of cocooning, with hot chocolate under a blanket; one of my favorite activities :-)
14. How has nail art made a difference in your life?
I have recently gone through a very long period of illness; I had to alternate phases of hospitalization and home confinement. During this period, nail art was not only an enjoyable, relaxing activity. It also represented a relationship with a community of people around the world who shared my passion, exchanged with me on internet and inspired me with their work. Nail art became a way to share with people, to create relationships based on a common interest. I think it contributed to my recovery, by helping me break my isolation.
Now, in my everyday life, nail art represents a kind of zen activity, moments of peaceful creation that require concentration and self-control. It has also become part of my identity: people who know me often check my nails to see what I’m wearing at the moment. They know that my nails are personal touches to which a devote quite a lot of time.
“Nail art represents a kind of zen activity, moments of peaceful creation that require concentration and self-control.”
We hope you enjoyed this honest and touching interview with Carole of Chasing Shadows. Thank you so much Carole for sharing your moments and stories with us! Find more of Carole’s nail art: