The Illustrated Nail Interview – The Badass Nail Artist

By Inspirationail

Sophie Harris-Greenslade The Illustrated NailWebsite & Places you can find my work online:
Blog: The Illustrated Nail
Twitter: @IllustrateNail

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I’m 23 years old and was born in Dagenham, East London. I’ve always been passionate about art and as soon as I left school enrolled in art school. I graduated in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University back in 2009 and since then have trained in nail technology courses at Thanet College to explore my other passion, nail art!

Where are you located?
I live in East London but I’m a mobile nail artist so I travel all over London to do peoples nails.

How would you describe your artistic style?
I like detail and pattern, lots of it!

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Where do you find your inspiration?
I can find inspiration in just about anything; fabric, print, art, fashion, tattoos, wallpaper, packaging… I end up taking a million pictures of things when I’m out for inspiration for my nail art and I keep scrapbooks too.

Tell us about the most memorable nail design you’ve created.
My most memorable nail design was a floral print I did for M.I.A. on a shoot for W Magazine.

I got to meet Donatella Versace on the shoot and she said the nails were fabulous so I’ll never forget that!

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

You’ll soon be adding tattooing to your list of skills. Are there similarities between the art of nails and that of tattoos?
I’d love to be a tattoo artist and I think if I hadn’t taken up nails I would have probably followed that path instead. However, I think tattooing is something that you have to concentrate solely on and be completely dedicated to, it takes years and years of training. At the moment I can’t give it my all because I’m really busy with my nail art.

I think there are similarities in the fact that you are working on a person and are following that client’s brief.

Also hygiene and health and safety factors into both, it’s super important to know what you’re doing when working on people. I think you use the same kind of process, you find out what the client wants, create a design, draw it up, prepare your “canvas” and go to work, except nail art isn’t permenant so if I go wrong I can always start over!

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Nailpihilia, the UK’s first Nail Art exhibition is on now at 12a Vyner Street, London. How did the idea come about?
Ryan Lanji who curated the show contacted me after seeing my Space Invader inspired nail art on his friend and spoke to me about his idea of having a nail art exhibition. I thought it was a fantastic idea and said of course I’d love to be involved. In the beginning I never thought the exhibition would be as big as it has got then Ryan kept telling me he had got Marian Newman involved and Sophy Robson and the incredible Sue Marsh and I knew then that it was going to be something special.

I was truly overwhelmed and delighted to be part of an exhibition showcasing the work of nail tech royalty. I am still very new to the industry so to exhibit my work alongside the true greats felt absolutely incredible.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Using five words can you describe Nailpihilia.
First, groundbreaking, amazing, inspiring, unmissable.

Tell us a little more about it and the effect this Exhibition will have on the industry?
I think that this exhibition is showing the world that nail art truely is an art form in its own right and shouldn’t be overlooked. It is long overdue. Sue Marsh’s work is just awe inspiring and to think she was doing it over 10 years ago just blows my mind. But back then nail art wasn’t really something that people took seriously, it was so overlooked and I just think that that is such a shame.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

My mum who has been in the industry for over 20 years has always loved nail art and I have watched it’s progression from when she first started to what it has become now but it’s a shame that those people that helped shape and develop nail art don’t always get the recognition that they deserve.

I am first and foremost an artist and being able to apply that to my nail passion is great but to be taken seriously about it is even more fulfilling.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Where would you like to see the industry in 5 years?
I think the nail art world can only get bigger and better!

Which nail products & brands do you use on yourself?
CND SolarOil, Andrea Fulerton Nail Boutique Cuticle Eraser, I love OPI nail polish, Seche Vite is the best topcoat EVER!

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

What one thing do you think every salon should have/ do but doesn’t?
Decent nail art. Most salons I know either do the tacky airbrush type of nail art or are just churning out leopard print and the same boring designs all day long.

I love being freelance as it means I can be as creative and artistic as I like and really give the client what they want. That’s what nail art should be seen as: true art! I’m an artist after all.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

In your experience, what makes a good customer?
I know this is really terrible to say but I like a customer to sit still! Doing such detailed work is hard to do when the client won’t stop moving! But that’s why you pick up speed as well as techniques and discover the best way to do it as after all my client’s are only human and can’t keep still forever!

Which of the nail industry celebs do you admire the most?
Sue Marsh. Marian Newman. Andrea Fulerton. Naomi Yasuda. Sophy Robson. I admire them all.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Who’s your favourite style icon/ designer?
Debbie Harry circa late 1970’s early 80’s.
I love Moschino and Luella.
I used to collect a lot of clothing from the 1960’s mainly Mary Quant, Biba and Ossie Clark, I love 1960’s fashion.

Who’s nails would you love to do? (Any era)
I would have loved to have done Amy Winehouse’s nails, she was amazing and she had some pretty bad ass nails. I’d love to do something for Katy Perry as she just has so much fun with her nails, I could really go to town with her.

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

What else are you passionate about?
At the moment mainly tattooing, it’s something I definitely want to persue in the future. I went to the London tattoo convention on Sunday.

If you were a superhero, which one would you be & why?
Probably one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They live in half shells, fight crime ninja stlyle and eat pizza, what superhero sounds better than that?

Sophie aka The Illustrated Nail

Many Thanks

Thanks to Sophie for answering our questions and sharing a little more about her artistic talents. To learn more about her, visit her blog at

Stay tuned for more interesting interviews with other fun & fearless members of the nail industry.


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