Spotlight on Nail Artist Mary Wolf
"What color should I paint my nails?" A question my friends are asked almost weekly and they're probably sick of it. Saying I love manicures and nail art is probably an understatement..it's an obsession and slight addiction. I legitimately don't remember the last time I had bare nails and the thought of it makes me cringe. A close friend recently revealed that her current employer doesn't allow colored nail polish. I couldn't believe it and I thought to myself, "Is that a job I could accept?...I'm assuming they can wear nude polish but can they jazz it up with a subtle shimmer" (first world problems).
It only seemed natural that I feature a nail artist at some point and once I saw the Instagram account of Mary Wolf aka Nail Wolf, I knew she was the one. All her designs designs are so beautiful and I couldn't believe the amount of details in some of her manicures. I was also very happy when I learned the the Cleveland, Ohio native and I had something in common, Chicago! Wolf lived in Chicago for 8 years until moving to California where she started Nail Wolf. I'm very excited to share this post with everyone because I've been geeking out about it for a while now(sorry friends...and thanks for your patience). Please continue reading to learn more about the journey of this uber talented woman!
What sparked your interest in nail art?
As a little girl, I was obsessed with the idea of having long nails and collecting nail polish. I had a mad passion for Lee press on nails and luckily my mom mostly supported me on that financially. I loved glitters and nail stickers a lot! Always enjoyed doing my own nails and as an adult got more into high end manicures and discovered the world of Japanese gel and nail art about 4 years ago!
Are you a full-time nail artist? If so, do you remember the point when you realized you wanted to make it a full-time job?
I am a full-time nail artist! Yay!! I realized I wanted to take nails more seriously about 3 years ago when my own passion for getting gel manicures and fun nail art was at a next level and I found myself constantly planning my next manicure! I was working full time at a TV Studio in LA and felt I was at a major crossroads because while my job provided security I realized my true creative nature was being suffocated and I just wasn't that happy. But, thankfully my job allowed me to finance Nail School, which I was able to attend in evenings after work. After about 5 months I got my Nail Technician license! I kept my job for almost a year after getting licensed and worked with whatever nail clients I could scrounge up in evenings and on weekends. Eventually, I realized if I really wanted to make the switch to nails as a full time job I had to leave my day job. I took the plunge in August of 2015.
Who or what inspires you?
So many other Nail Artists inspire me! And so many things! I love nature and being outside, always inspired by flowers and plants of all kind. I love jewelry and rings and thinking about how nails will look with different pieces. I love looking at fashion and I think nails and fashion should always go hand in hand! I love looking at art of all kinds as well! Basically, my mind is constantly thinking "Could that go on a nail? How could I make that into nail art?"
What is your artistic process?
I get ideas for nail art at random times so I usually just keep a list of ideas on my phone and I usually spend a few hours a week painting sample nails to get ideas out and refine or adjust them.
Do you have a preferred theme?
I love hand painting lines, illustrations, animals, flowers, plants! Also really love abstract color blends and lots of nail jewelry!
Has your style evolved over time?
I would say for sure it has! Style wise I would say I'm always shifting and trying to catch a new wave of creativity.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a nail artist so far?
The beginning!! Struggle to feel confident is super real! When I first started everything seemed to take forever and I always felt like maybe I did a crappy job! I muddled through the first year of being a full time nail artist constantly questioning myself and the choice I had made because growing my client base from scratch definitely took some doing!
...and your favorite aspect?
Right now and what the future holds! I look back on my life and the major career pivot I've now successfully accomplished and I'm just so ecstatic! I get to be creative and help people feel beautiful and important every day!
Have you experienced a creative rut? If you have, how have you worked through it?
Yes!!! So many over the past few years! I usually just try to take a step back and clear my head. I take a bath, go to a yoga class or Pilates or take a walk in my neighborhood. Once I'm not thinking about it too hard the ideas can start flowing again!
What has been your favorite creation so far?
Easy question! My wedding day nails, they were done based on our wedding invitations and those were designed by Victoria Vu of Paper & Type. She's a brilliant illustrator and designer here in LA! I was referred to her by our wedding planner, Kayla Vie, the best in the biz! When I visited Victoria's website I instantly fell in love with her style and got so inspired! I sent her my idea which was based on a design concept I saw she had done in the past. I wanted to put a twist on her idea using illustrations that would be based on our favorite plants we have at our home and the flowers that we would use in our wedding. Victoria knocked it out of the park and once I saw our invites I knew my wedding nails would have to be based on the design! I've come to realize that I'm obsessed with tying details and themes together in everything that I do in life so it all ended up working out better than I could have ever imagined!
Who's your favorite nail artist?
Oh man! So many to choose from...I love these guys a lot and SO many more!
What is your ultimate goal with your work?
To keep my creativity flowing, in all directions! I think keeping my nail game on it's toes keeps my whole life interesting and I never want to stop evolving and living my creative journey.
Any last words?
Try really hard not to live for likes!! Remember that there is more to success then Instagram and social media recognition! I'm trying to apply that to my life every day because it's honestly so hard to stay away from those feelings in our current culture.
Questions one must ask a nail artist:
Essie or OPI?
What are best practices to keep a manicure looking good?
Wear dish gloves when you wash dishes or doing any heavy duty cleaning
If you have gel on you can usually shine it up with rubbing alcohol
What are your favorite polish brands?
I use nail polish very little... if ever to be honest! All of my work with clients you see on Instagram is done with gel, I love:
- Nail Labo-Presto
- Young Nails
What are your go to nail art brushes?
Obsessed with Tati gel brushes available online at Daily Charme.
Is there a nail shape that's flattering on everyone?
I think rounded shapes are always more flattering! Round, oval or almond are my faves! I think at least one of those shapes can instantly make anyone's hands look better :)