Kayleigh O'Connor. Graduate, fashion lover, film fanatic and nail art guru. You may have seen her nails splashed across your favourite glossy magazines or on your favourite beauty blogs. She's renowned for her off the wall nail designs ranging from pencil-tips and cherries to Snow White, Dr Who (and the daleks) and Freddy Mercury and now some exclusively designed LBD-inspired prints.
So we sat down with Kayleigh to find out a bit more about the lady behind the nails and to talk about the inspiration behind her LBD collection...
How did you get in to nail art?
I started wearing glue on nails when I was around 16 to cover up my badly bitten real ones. Initially, I just painted them with plain colours to match my outfits, but that got boring pretty fast so I started adding lines and patterns, then cartoon characters and logos. A few years later I realised that I could change the shapes of the nails to make them more individual rather than sticking to just square or rounded, which is what I mostly enjoy doing now. Recently, I've discovered new materials I can use to create nail art: clay, plastic and just any old bits and pieces I find around, and I am having such a good time playing with these fun mediums. Of course, these sets are not always practical and can usually be worn only once for a themed night, a party, or just for a laugh when meeting up with friends.
What inspires your designs?
I think I'm inspired by boredom, and trying to eradicate it! When I was a teenager, I noticed how plain and boring my bedroom was and so started painting and glueing random things to the walls and ceilings until it was a complete 'circus'- as my sister used to call it. I think I've carried that craziness through onto my nails (as now I have to be a grown up with a sensible room!). But really, I have no idea where the inspiration comes from - apart from the pop culture icons/texts/themes I try to replicate. I don't usually plan ahead, I just know what I want to try, get started and hope for the best. Sometimes I'm unable to directly copy aspects of my chosen theme, so I try to capture the essence of it, and portray it through utilising colours, shapes, etc. This is usually the case when I make the minimalist character nails as I am pretty rubbish at painting faces.
Your fab nails have got a lot of attention recently, how does that feel?
I am overwhelmingly flattered that my nail art has become so popular! I only began posting photos of my nails online in order to gain a higher mark for one of my old university assignments, so it was a complete and wonderful surprise when I started to receive positive feedback and requests for more. Since I started posting them up earlier this year, they have been featured on MTV Style, The Huffington Post UK
, The Daily Mail
, The Mary Sue, When Geeks Wed
and on quite a few more lovely sites, blogs and magazines from all over the world. It feels so strange that there are people on the other side of the planet that have seen my nails!
Who is your nail icon?
I think having designs on your nails is such a fun expression of someone's personality so I love seeing all photos of nail art online. I wouldn't say I have someone who is my nail icon, but through social networking and blogging I have gained some wonderful friends who are AMAZING nail artists, and have really welcomed me into the community, so I consider them to be my nail icons.
Which brands do you use the most for your nail designs?
I have a few favourite nail brands which I like because of the choice of amazing colours; these are Barry M, Collection 2000's 'Hot Looks' polishes and ASDA's George varnishes. I also love Rio Beauty's nail art pens, which are so fun and easy to work with. But, I just love polishes so I am always buying them from wherever they are being sold - I especially like finding them on market stalls as they are just shoved in massive boxes which I get to rummage around in.
Tell us more about the nails you designed for LBD
I decided to try to think about examples of famous little black dresses for these designs. My first and easiest choice was to try an Audrey Hepburn/Breakfast At Tiffany’s set, in which I used a minimalist approach to recreate the iconic film poster design.
I then painted Betty Boop on the thumb nail of another set, in her cute, little black ‘Flapper Girl’ dress. I decided to keep these black and white in order to replicate the look of the original 1930s cartoons. I also painted heart shapes onto the other fingernails to reinforce the cute feel, but kept them in sharp points to allude to a sexy, dangerous side – which also suits the depression era cartoon’s tone.
I struggled to think of an inspiration for my third design. I was thinking about just painting lots of dresses across the nails, or things that I associate with The Little Black Dress like cocktail glasses, high heels, art deco patterns. While I was thinking about these things another famous black dress wearer popped into my head – The Wicked Witch of the West! I know this is a bit of a weird one but as The Wizard of Oz
is one of my favourite films, I had to include her. So, I used the yellow/orange colour of the background to connote a Halloween-y feel which I wore to celebrate last weekend!
How long did your LBD nail art take to create?
These designs took around an hour each to make, but I usually paint them as I’m chatting on the phone, or watching the films I’m taking inspiration from, so the time flies by.
What other designs have you made?
I take a lot from popular culture for inspiration. I am a part of a lot of different fandoms and have been a film and TV buff ever since I was tiny, so there is a never ending list of things I want to represent on my nails.
My most popular designs have been Batman, the Eye of Sauron (from The Lord of the Rings), Edward Scissorhands and Freddie Mercury. But I’m posting up new ones every few days so it’s hard to keep track of the ones which I have tried!
Which is your favourite to make?
My favourite sets are usually the more obscure ones, taken from cult films/TV, as it is fun to see other fans of that text get excited about them too. But, I just love choosing a new theme and working out what the main/most suitable aspects of that theme is to put onto my nails – and seeing them all together at the end.
Do you wear these designs on a daily basis or just for special occasions?
The designs I have made for LBD I would wear on a daily basis, but I usually save the more crazy designs for special occasions. I do get a lot of questions about the practicality and usability of my nails. However, as I have been wearing these more extreme nails for so many years, I have had a lot of practice using my hands with them on, so I never really have any of the trouble that one might justifiably expect. I can do my make-up get into my handbag - even put on my tights… Sometimes, haha.
Do your friends all get you to do their nails for a night out?
They do! Although, they often want pretty little patterns and simple designs rather than a giant Godzilla destroying buildings, which reminds me, I’ll have to try that soon… But seriously, pretty nails for a night out add a little bit of fun, can complete an outfit and look so nice when holding a glass of wine!
What does the LBD mean to you?
I love wearing black, as it is a colour that can be dressed up with jewellery and accessories – and fancy nails! I’ve heard that Karl Lagerfeld said, "One is never over-dressed or under dressed with little black dress" – which I completely agree with. It is such a simple yet sophisticated choice which works well for any occasion, so is always useful to have.
Who is your LBD icon?
My three nail designs feature the LBD icons which first came into to my mind. I think the obvious choice would be Audrey Hepburn, so having her as my LBD icon goes without saying. But, as a fun choice I’d also pick Morticia Addams. I think, although she is fictional and supposed to be creepy, she exudes sexiness and confidence, which is a perfect mix to represent a LBD wearer.
How do you dress for Saturday night?
I like to be comfortable during a night out, so I tend to wear things which offer freedom of movement (unlike crazy high heels and super tight tops). So, this is where a little black dress is perfect for me. However, I also like to add accessories (like my nails, for example) and fun makeup which make the look more individual and ‘kooky’. Being able to add some fun aspects - ones which suit/represent my personality - to simple outfits are the best way for me to feel confident and ready to have a good time.
To see more of Kayleigh's amazing nail designs check out her blog here.