We have all been bored to death starring at the drably dressed people in the subway when all of the sudden a woman walks in with nails so fabulous they light up the entire train cart. Starring at those nails, you realize that life in NYC would be so much better if you could find the person capable of creating such miniature masterpieces. The intricate designs—some of which are inspired by fashion prints as Givenchy’s Rottweiler or fine artists like Picasso and Rene Magritte—have probably been created by NYC-based nail artist Miho “Mei” Kawajiri. The 31-year-old has a three-week waitlist and more than 43,000 followers on Instagram.
“I didn’t go to college. I wanted to do something creative. I asked my mom if I could become a tattoo artist. She said no,” laughs Kawajiri, while adorning a nail with an intricate Kehinde Wiley pattern—all by hand of course. “When I discovered nail art, I knew that was what I wanted to do and my mom agreed,” she says. Kawajiri signed up for beauty school and learned the ins and outs of French manicures. It was on her own that she learned how to translate client mood boards into minuscule artworks, which she has since applied to the nails of Lana Del Rey and other celebs alike.
Having owned her own nail salon in the Harajuku district of Tokyo for six years, Kawajari closed shop and decided to move to New York. “I want to be the best nail artist in the world and to accomplish that, I knew I needed to be in the states,” she says, displaying her determination. Her Little Italy apartment is another proof of her professional life: nail polish is displayed on tables and countertops. Nail art hangs on the walls and some her own drawings have nothing but fingers on it. It’s clear that her job is more than just that: it’s an obsession.
We sat down with the talent to have her recreate some of our favorite images from Visionaire on our digital editor Lars Byrresen Petersen’s nails. He chose: James Dignan and Stephen Gan Visionaire 7 BLACK, Francois Berthoud Visionaire 11 WHITE, cover of Visionaire 20 COMME DES GARCONS, cover of Visionaire 25 VISIONARY, cover of Visionaire 40 ROSES, Hedi Slimane Visionaire 44 TOYS, Kehinde Wiley Visionaire 50 ARTIST TOYS, Yoko Ono Visionaire 56 SOLAR and the cover of Visionaire 64 ART John Baldessari.