Nail art is no joke. Creating intricate shapes and designs on a canvas the size of your fingertip is a hard-won skill. And, while there are certainly enough nail art tutorials and hacks out there to learn how to do-it-yourself, it takes a modern-day Picasso to whip up a complex, miniature masterpiece out of thin air.

That’s why we were so excited to learn about The essie's—the first award exclusively for nail artists. We're big supporters of the (beauty) arts and upcoming talent at, so we championed the idea of awarding a newcomer with a $20,000 partnership and a role as essie's “nail art ambassador”, including a backstage gig at New York Fashion Week. 

We recently sat down with this year's winner of The essie's, YouTube nail extraordinaire Harli G, and she told us all about the inspo behind her award-winning nail look, her hopes for the future and the beauty essentials that are always in her purse. Warning: This may make you rethink everything and go for a career in nail art!

Harli G Nail Tips

How did you first get into nail art?

Harli G: I got into nail art back in junior high school. I took an orchestra class, but instead of actually attending class, my friends and I would sneak into a back room and paint each other’s nails.

What is your favorite essie shade?

Harli G: My favorite essie shade is Ole Caliente. It is the perfect orangey red color! It works well with every skin tone and pretty much everything I wear!

Tell us about your inspiration for this nail art?

Harli G: The nail design I’ve chosen to do for the contest is a modern floral look. I really like floral nail designs, but I wanted to do a different take on it. So, (the look) is not something you typically see — it’s a little more modern.

Also, when I’m in need of some inspiration one of my go-to sites is the essie nail art page. They have amazing of-the-moment looks! 

Can you give us a step-by-step tutorial to create this look at home?

Harli G:

Step 1: Apply a coat of ‘First Base’ (base coat).

Step 2: Apply one layer of ‘Blanc’ (white nail polish).

Step 3: Create petals using ‘Licorice’ (black nail polish).

Step 4: Add a thick, pink stripe in each of the petal shapes. I used using ‘Go Ginza’. 

Steps 5, 6, 7: Repeat Step 4 with ‘Butler Please’ (a cornflower blue polish),  ‘Play Date’ (lavender polish) and ‘Find Me an Oasis’ (an icy blue polish).

Step 8: Finish with a layer of ‘Gel-Setter’.

Who’s been a major beauty and/or style inspiration for you?

Harli G: I am really inspired by Chloe Grace Moretz’s fashion sense. I love that she doesn’t really have just one particular style that she sticks to. It’s really cool to me that she can wear the most mature pieces, but adds something here and there to give the look some edge and youth.  

Ingrid Nilsen is another huge icon for me. Her overall style is very classic and simple, but she manages to still somehow keep her look interesting.

If we were to go through your purse right now, what would we find?

Harli G: Right now, I'm carrying a messenger cross-body bag. The thing is tiny, so I can’t fit much in it! But I did manage to make room for a nail file, mini cuticle oil, Sharpie, roller perfume and L’Oréal Paris Le Matte Lip Pen in She’s So Matte. These are my essentials!

Walk us through your morning beauty routine. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

Harli G: In the summer I like to keep my beauty routine simple. I wash my face with a Clarisonic facial brush. Makeup-wise, all I do is fill in my eyebrows with a brow pencil and curl my lashes. I also apply Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Brightening and Smoothing Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 right before I run out the door, because it has some added SPF!

Harli G Nail Artist Tips

Tell us about some of your personal goals/aspirations.

Harli G: A long-term goal of mine is to open up my own nail salon here in my hometown that focuses primarily on natural nail care. I have also been spending a lot of time focusing on my YouTube channel. I am very passionate about nail care and nail art so I would love to grow my channel and share my passions with other people who have similar interests.

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