Nail artist and manicurist Sophie Harris-Greenslade on careers, trends and her signature style
Sophie Harris-Greenslade is a session manicurist and nail artist who has also launched her own celebrated brand, ‘The Illustrated Nail’. Sophie has a number of celebrity clients and has worked on photoshoots and catwalk shows for a range of global brands, designers and media.
Starting out studying illustration and animation, Sophie moved into nail art which she describes as ‘a style of illustration, just on a smaller canvas’.
Read on to find out more about how she got started, and the secret to her signature style.
Meet Sophie Harris-Greenslade
The Illustrated Nail
Six years ago Sophie started ‘The Illustrated Nail’ blog — named as such because of her passion to become an illustrator. Sophie’s aim for the blog was not only to showcase her intricate designs to the world, but to push nail art boundaries with a new perspective in the industry.
In the past six years, Sophie has seen her blog continue to grow and her following is now around half a million. Under the guise of ‘The Illustrated Nail’ she creates looks for high fashion designers, works with the world’s leading nail brands, and drives trends forward within the industry.
Where Sophie’s nail art career began
Sophie originally studied illustration and animation at Kingston University as she had not initially planned to go into the beauty industry. It was her mum who encouraged her to undertake a manicure and pedicure course to become a fully qualified nail technician. Once she went to nail school at Kent College, she fell in love with the profession and has been a nail stylist for six years.
Sophie’s time at nail school encouraged her to look for a job in a London nail salon. She then secured a role assisting celebrity nail technician Andrea Fullerton. At this point she realised she had found her calling in life.
Her big break came when she did her first ever shoot on her own, with M.I.A. for W magazine. This was a Versace feature with a Versace-inspired nail print. On the shoot, Donatella Versace herself told Sophie that the nails were ‘fabulous’.
The start of Sophie’s career wasn’t all plain sailing. The push that Sophie needed to focus on freelancing came when she started her own weekend stall in Spitalfields market alongside her London salon job, creating her own nail art. She unfortunately lost her job in the salon, which gave her more time to commit to the stall. This gave her the confidence she needed to continue being her own boss and pursue the work that she would never otherwise have dared to take on.
She now credits this slight setback as the reason for being where she is today.
Sophie’s take on current nail styling trends
Sophie takes inspiration for her nail designs from anywhere, anything, at any time. She always carries a sketch book with her to draw her ideas in. She finds inspiration in fabric prints, textures, art, illustration and graffiti.
Career advice for nail technicians
Practising and volunteering
Sophie’s advice for budding nail artists would be to first practise, practise, practise.
She says it’s also very important to push yourself out there as much as possible, to cement your place in the industry. She recommends going to fashion shows and assisting as many already-established nail technicians in the industry as you can to gain work experience.
Sophie gave her time for free to gain additional experience for a long period, building up her portfolio of work in between working in the salon and having freelance clients. She also devoted a lot of her time to sharing her designs on social media, building up her online presence and developing her brand.
Marketing your nail art business and building a brand
Social media is incredibly important when it comes to developing your reputation as a nail artist. Sophie suggests thinking about what style you would like to be known for and what kind of brand you want to portray.
Sophie has seen ‘The Illustrated Nail’ blog become an invaluable tool for communicating her designs to both professionals and consumers. It’s also a good channel to get her work out there, while it’s also helped her get some great jobs for leading brands and PR companies. She credits ‘The Illustrated Nail’ for really pushing her work forward.
Becoming a top nail artist
Sophie has experienced many career highlights, but she says the best feeling is winning awards for her work.
Scratch, England’s number one leading nail magazine, runs an annual awards ceremony for the nail industry. Sophie has won the Scratch Stars Session Nail Stylist of the Year award for two years running.
However, all professionals suffer mishaps. One of Sophie’s most embarrassing moments was when she spilled nail polish over a nail stylist at a Tatler magazine shoot. She was showing her some nail polishes and spilt them on the floor, covering the stylist’s expensive jeans and shoes. Sophie was absolutely mortified!
Sophie Harris-Greenslade’s signature style
Although Sophie creates a wide range of nail art styles, she is most well-known for her intricate, detailed prints and patterns. Sophie’s signature style revolves around bright, bold colours. She has drawn inspiration from Mondrian, the artist best known for combining black lines with blocks of primary colour, to create a bold, eye-catching design. Her method is to build a ‘tile’ pattern on the nail with these colours, before using a striping brush to overlay a black outline and really make each colour stand out.
The start of a beautiful career?
Are you looking to follow in Sophie’s footsteps and succeed in the nail business?
Whether you’re just starting out, running your own business or still exploring your options, we’ve got a wealth of resources for hair and beauty professionals. Click here to take a look and start styling your very own pathway to success.