|Nail artist Park Eun-kyung, known as Unistella, is famous for starting a number of groundbreaking nail designs such as shattered glass nails, wire nails, and lipstick-shaped nails. Korea Times photo by Lee Min-young, Kim Kang-min|
By Lee Gyu-lee
Nail art has been in fashion for a while, but the design and techniques seem to keep evolving, continuously bringing in new tends. At the forefront of the trends, there is Park Eun-kyung, internationally recognized nail artist, better known as Unistella.
From shattered glass nails, wire nails to lipstick-shaped nails, the 36-year-old nail artist is famous for starting stylish and uniquely artistic designs, truly incorporating art onto nails. While running her own nail salon "Unistella," in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, she has also been known as celebrity nail artist being involved in scores of music videos and photoshoots, including for BLACKPINK and supermodel Cara Delevingne.
"I want people to know that 'nailist' can be nail 'artist' too. I value nails very highly and I think people know that, but they just don't realize it. So I want to prove it to them," she said in the interview with the Korea Times, Wednesday, at the salon.
The expertise, trend-setting techniques come from 17 years in the nail industry. "I've always known I would be doing beauty-related work when I was young," she said. Park began by learning make-up until she grew tired of it and turned her interest to nails art.
"At first it was more about proving myself (to my parents). They didn't want me to do cosmetics, so my dad got so upset that I paid for a training session with his credit card. Back then, I was just thinking about paying him back," she said.
|Park forecast magnet nails as a trend for this season. Korea Times photo by Lee Min-young, Kim Kang-min|
But since then, nail art grew into her true passion. From nail training instructor to globally famed nail artist, Park has come a long way in building up the reputation she has gained. She is the first Korean nail artist to be invited to New York Fashion Week in 2016, where she took part in three different shows.
Fashion week was a dream come true for her and had been on her bucket list, she said. "Going there felt so surreal. I still remember writing a letter to myself on the plane bound for New York about how nervous and excited I was." She added that it didn't sink in until people recognized her and her brand at the site.
As a pioneer in inventing unique and modern nail art, she relentlessly tries to come up with new style and designs. "I try to always be forward-thinking, asking myself what nails could come into fashion in the future?" she said.
Everything that she sees becomes her inspiration. "It's like my visions are in the shape of nails," she noted. When something catches her eyes, she instantly thinks of ways to put them on nails. "I just try it out right away to see if it works and to see if it feels comfortable and wearable. Then I develop it into a design," she said, adding that's why she keeps her nails bare.
And that's how she invented wire nails, which caught the eyes of nail lovers around the world. Enchanted by the glowing neon signs around the city, she started looking into how the signs work and discovered the signs are connected with wires, which she developed into nail pieces.
|Unistella nail designs Korea Times photo by Lee Min-young, Kim Kang-min|
"The focus is on me and my standards. I prefer short nails and do not like anything uncomfortable, but I do like having a manicure," she said. She is always worried about if people feel uncomfortable and avoid applying nail art. "So I do my best to pay attention to practical and comfortable designs when I come up with them."
The next project she hopes to undertake is to travel the world with her crew, opening pop-up nail salons. "I get comments on my social media asking me to come to their countries. And I thought it would really be fun to visit those places on a project basis," she said.
Her philosophy is to look at nails as a form of jewelry and to see the bigger picture of how nails can complete a whole look. "Nails act as balancing the full outfit. So in some cases, not doing anything ― plain bare nails ― could also be art," she noted.
That's the beauty she takes from nail art and is the reason she values nails so highly. And as she does, she hopes more people will appreciate and recognize nail art more widely. "My ultimate goal is to create a better environment for people in this industry where they will be accepted and treated better."