2016 has been a really busy year for me which sometimes meant that I wasn't able to keep all of my social media accounts as up to date as I would have liked, and also meant that I wasn't able to do as many designs this year as I ideally would have liked to. With that being said, I did manage to create a grand total of 66 designs this year and received some pretty awesome opportunities! Before getting started on new designs for 2017 I just wanted to take a look back at my Top 16 Designs of 2016!
If you know me then you probably already know that I'm super indecisive, and therefore my list of favourite designs from this year is a little longer than usual. I tried to narrow it down to a top 9 to keep the collage square, but I'm sure you can see how well that worked out :P
These designs are going to be listed in order of when they were posted, not in order of how much I liked them ~
You can click the date listed under the title of the design to see the original post.
Xs and ♥s
I'm usually at a huge loss on what to do for holiday themed manicures. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, you name it. I've very likely sat around banging my head on the table trying to come up with an original design for every holiday there is. This year, instead of stressing over coming up with my own design for Valentine's Day I decided to recreate one of my favourite designs by Anhy (@nailove2807). I put a bit of my own spin on it by changing the O's into hearts and I was super happy with how it came out! This design is a bit different from my typical style, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to try out Anhy's style for myself!
This design was actually done exclusively for a product review, but I ended up loving the end result way more than I thought I would. I think this was honestly one of the most flawless gradients I've ever done and the way it looked with the line of gold glitter worked perfectly in my opinion. Even the charms, which were a little larger than I anticipated them being and therefore weren't really that wearable, worked perfectly with the design. Totally my style.
NAFW2016 Day Six: Fall 2016 Dress
This was the second year for Nail Art Fashion Week and it remains one of my absolute favourite events of the year. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely challenging to paint, photograph, edit, and write up 7 original designs in seven days (not counting runway-research time) but the whole process it totally worth it. I love seeing everyone else's mind blowing designs and the event really challenges me to try new techniques that I might not otherwise do. Case in point, intricate caviar bead placement. It's so time consuming and isn't really super practical so I don't generally use caviar beads on a regular basis, but this challenge gave me the perfect opportunity to try it out. NAFW also gave me an excuse to try out the fur nail trend that I never would have done regularly, and also inspired me to try using tissue paper for one design, a technique that I put to use in another design later in the year.
This is another design that was inspired by an artist on Instagram, but not a nail artist this time. Andrea Reed (@girgreybeauty) is an amazing makeup/lip artist from Victoria, BC and these nails were inspired by her lipart of the same name. I love all of Andrea's work but I just felt that this piece would look awesome as a nail art design and I think I can safely say that I was right! I've really been feeling negative space this year and this design really played to that - my favourite nail in this design was probably the thumb (not pictured) which only had three blue squares on it). Also many thanks to Andrea for featuring my recreation in her Instagram story a little while ago; I'm so pleased that you liked my interpretation of your design!
First kpop design on the list! Out of my 66 designs this year 16 of them were inspired by kpop songs and music videos. One of the things that my subscribers on Youtube asked me for this year was to do more BTS inspired designs, and I followed through with two new BTS manicures this year. Out of the two (Fire and BS&T), this one was my favourite even though the other one seemed to be a lot more popular with you guys on YT. The tutorial for Fire currently has just over 94k views (which is an amazing number of views in itself), while the tutorial for Blood, Sweat, and Tears has 275k. I just liked how streamlined this design was and I was really happy with how the fire turned out; acetone marbling is always a fun technique to do!
This design may seem to you like an odd addition on this list and in some ways it is to me too. I honestly had the worst time doing this design because I apparently have no idea how to use stamps. Since I'm so used to freehanding designs I'm really not used to using stamping plates, but when I received a clear jelly stamper from BPS to review I kind of had to relearn the process. What I learned was that the majority of my polishes don't take kindly to stamping, and that stamping really is a lot harder than I anticipated it being. With that being said, the reason that I included this design in my top 16 this year was because I absolutely loved this colour combination. The yellow is Honey Darlin' from CND Canada's Flirtation Collection and the raspberry is Designer Satin from China Glaze. I'm not usually super into yellow nails, but I was surprised by how perfectly these two shades went together and feel like this was an awesome summer manicure.
Kpop manicure #2! I did a lot of exo designs this year (4 full designs + a mini-design based off of their Ex'Act teasers), but I think this one inspired by the music video for Monster was my favourite. It's very obviously not a wearable design (I took off the chains attaching my index and middle finger literally as soon as I'd made sure all the pictures I needed had come out well) but I think the overall vibe really captured the music video. I spent a lot of time brainstorming this design and had a lot of help from one of my closest friends, Joanne (@jwabstract), who talked me out of including a super colourful nail in this design which would have completely ruined the overall colour scheme. This bloody gash technique is also one of my favourite techniques to use because it's so easy to do but looks super realistic. If you want to see how to do it, check out my tutorial for it on youtube (which currently has over 375k views and is currently my most popular tutorial to date)!
Make Me Colourful
These nails were inspired by my need for bright, summery nails! I had just finished doing my Monster and Lucky one designs and I felt like I needed to do something neon to balance out the darker tones I used in those designs. I remember having to really rush on these nails because I needed to catch the bus to Toronto that day (though I don't remember what I was going there for), but even though I was in a hurry I still think they came out really well! If I had had a bit more time I probably would have redone the middle nail because the pink and yellow came out a bit too solid, but overall I was still really happy with this design. The gradient stripes on my index and pinky nails were by far my favourite part of this design though; the gradient turned out way better than expected and I loved the way the bright colours contrasted with the negative space! (I also managed to make a lowkey SHINee reference in the title which is another plus for this design :P)
So this may or may not surprise some of you, but this design inspired by Taeyeon's single Why off of her mini album of the same name was my absolute favourite design that I did in 2016. There's just something about it that I really, really love. I think everything about it just turned out really well and all of the different designs just worked together perfectly. The water, the rainbow, the logo (on the thumb, not pictured here), the compass... everything just came together for a perfectly summery design. Not to mention that I also loved the song (Starlight too; Taeyeon and Dean's voices together.... yes). When I originally sketched this design out I didn't have the "why" over the compass, but once I put it on my nails I thought that it was missing something. I pitched the idea of having the "why" over the compass to Joanne (again) who agreed that it would bring the design together and I'm glad that it totally did! (If you want to, you can check out the tutorial for this design here)
Ok so this design had been on my to-do list forever. One of my followers on Instagram had asked me to do a strawberry pocky design and I thought it sounded cute so I agreed. I never really found the right opportunity to do it though, until I finally mustered up the courage to dye my hair bright pink in August! I wanted to do some pink nails to go with my new hair and strawberry pocky seemed to be a perfect choice. The little strawberries were inspired by one version of the strawberry pocky packaging as well as a print I saw on Pinterest, and the pink glitter polish is one that I was sent for free from CND! I thought the strawberries turned out super cute and I was really impressed by how thick the pink glitter was. Definitely one of my cutest designs of the year!
I'm kind of sad they I didn't get to watch a ton of the olympics this year because I was at work, but I did really love the design that I did in honour of the games. It was a bit of a challenge coming up with an original design since I'd already seen some other ones, but I think I did a pretty decent job. I think my favourite nail from this set would have to be the pinky. My original plan was to just paint the maple leaf, but then I realized that my nails were pretty much exactly the same shape as Team Canada's logo crest on their jersey's so I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to recreate that. I was also proud of how well the maple leaf (and the rings) came out because it was so small and intricate. If you grew up in Canada you're probably acutely aware of the pain that is trying to draw a maple leaves on the Canadian flag as a child; it's ridiculously hard and they never really turn out looking quite right. I'm glad that after a few year of doing Olympic designs that I can say I've improved my maple leaf technique!
Birch & Blossom
I was super busy the second half of the year because I made the mistake of putting all but one of the commerce courses I was taking this year into my first term. Since my coursework took up so much of my time I wasn't able to do a lot of autumn-inspired designs, but the ones I did do I really liked! This specific design was inspired by a necklace that I picked up at an art festival in September and I was really pleased with how the birch look translated onto my nails. I also really love this glitter polish from Butter London (called Rosie Lee) that I got at the same street festival. It's a perfect shade for fall and I think it complemented the birch design nicely. I probably would have liked this look even more if I had used a gold stud on the ring finger instead of that faux-marble one, but I was trying to get some product reviews done with the small amount of free time I had. Either way though I was really pleased with this design!
*cue Dean's 21*
Ok, so I usually don't really like the designs I do for my birthday that much, (remember how I had said I suck at doing designs for holidays? Yeah, that includes birthdays), but this year I really like how my B-Day design turned out! I had recently ordered a nail polish phone case online from xoxomua and I thought it was super cute and used it as inspiration for this design! The little nail polish bottles on the phone case also just happen to look like Essie bottles which is probably my favourite polish brand, if you haven't noticed, so it was really a perfect choice for me. One of the polishes that I received from Serendipity Polish this year - Holo-Day Lights - just happened to match the phone case perfectly so everything came together really nicely! And really, what screams "21 year old" more than sparkles and mini nail polish bottles? : P
The fourth kpop design on my list this year is my set of SHINee 1of1 inspired nails! SHINee came back this year with a really cool 90s concept and I had a lot of fun translating that onto my nails! While I enjoyed the mv, it didn't really give me a ton to work with unless I wanted to do the design just based off of their outfits. That could have been cool in a way since the very first kpop design I ever did was inspired by SHINee's outfits in their Dream Girl music video, but in the grand scheme of things I think it would have looked to messy and uncoordinated for my design standards today. Instead I took some inspiration from the case of the limited edition cassette version of the album, as well as from the regular album cover. I also think the chain on the ring finger was a nice touch and enhanced the design that much more. You can check out the tutorial for this design here.
I wish I could have done a design for SHINee's repackage single Tell Me What to Do as well because I don't think it got enough love, but sadly, as I mentioned before, I was swamped with school work and just didn't have the time.
Tell Me Where the Line Is
I think the was one of the simplest designs that I did this year, but the reason I loved it so much was because of the colour palette. Believe it or not, this design was actually semi-inspired by an ad for a sweater that I saw on Facebook. The colours of the sweater were a bit different, but that's where I got the colour-blocking idea from. I was originally going to use pink, white, and grey creme polishes for this design, but as I was looking through my nail polish stash for the right bottles I saw my Butter London pink glitter and knew that adding glitter into this design would be perfect. Once I had that idea in my head I ended up ditching the white polish and going with a very pale pink instead to compliment the glitter. I think all three colours ended up complimenting each other well; I loved how soft the colours were while still having a bit of sparkle. Definitely one of my favourite super simple fall designs, and I even managed to work an exo reference into the title ~
Rock at the Top
Just squeezing into 2016 in the nick of time is this final design that I did for New Year's Eve! I'm not sure if the reason I like this design so much is just that I did it two days ago so it's still fresh in my memory, but I was really pleased with how this design came out. I was a little worried about the marble because I used a different technique than I did when I first tried marble nails back in March, but I think it actually turned out more realistic this time! For this design I used tutorials from Nina (@ninanailedit) and Cambria (@nailsbycambria) for reference. I also liked how the glitter looked because come on, who doesn't like having their nails encrusted in glitter to welcome in the new year? I'm a little sad though because the glitter polish I was using was pretty gummy, so I'm probably going to have to search around and see if I can find a replacement for it. Overall though, definitely one of my favourite NYE designs to date!
Honorable Mention: Ex'Act
June 3rd, 2016
Even though it was only the thumbs, I still have to mention this mini-design I did based on the Monster and Lucky One teasers from exo's Ex'Act album. I have to hand it to SM: when they promote exo they promote them well. I was so hyped by the teasers for this comeback that I couldn't even wait for the music videos to be released to do a design. I love the way this came out; I think the simple black and white contrast was really effective, and I was happy with the way the photo and pose looked!
And that brings me to the end of my Top 16 Designs of 2016!
What do you think? Did your favourite design from the year make the list? Were there any designs that you were surprised to see in my top picks?
Judging from my Instagram #2016bestnine, I have a feeling that some of you might have some different opinions on which designs you liked the most:
Before I go there are just a few other opportunities I received and milestones I passed this year that I'd like to mention quickly since I didn't have a chance to make a yearly review post back in October like I usually do.
This year I was honoured to be contacted by companies such as Serendipity Polish, CND Canada, and Live Love Polish to swatch their products and/or become affiliates! My contacts at CND also invited me to my first ever launch event back in June where I was considered a "Media Guest" (definitely a new, though much appreciated, title for me).
In terms of social media accounts I passed 20k followers on Instagram this year and 50k subscribers on Youtube, both of which are huge numbers for me and I can't even begin to express my gratitude to every one of you who has liked my work enough to follow me.
So again, thank you to all of my followers; seeing all of your comments and likes on my posts always motivates me to keep designing and to continuously try to improve myself and my work so that I can show you all better designs in the future.
I hope you all have an amazing 2017 and wish you all health and happiness in the coming year!