Some may argue that nail art has had its moment in the sun, and that nearly everything has been done before. But, those people probably haven't seen the work of bi-costal nail artist
Alicia Torello. Spend a few minutes on her Instagram, and you'll see why she's one of the most in-demand manicurists working today. Torello splits her time between celebrities (such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kendall Jenner), fashion shows, and editorial shoots — and her fresh take on nail art has us hooked. "When I started doing nails, the only art was still old-school, and I didn’t really care for it," Torello told us. "I mostly gravitate towards simple looks." To wit: The majority of her work employs the bare nail as part of the design, which lends an incredibly modern feeling to something that, even Torello admits, can feel a bit tired. "After the nail art explosion, everyone needed a little break," she says. "The negative-space looks really allow for that." Ahead, Torello walks us through some of her work, sharing the tips and tricks behind her thin lines, tiny designs, and rad color choices. Get your Pinterest ready (and follow Alicia on Instagram while you're at it), because you're going to want to copy these looks ASAP.
"This is one of my all-time favorite designs —
it is one of the easiest nail looks to achieve. The key is having short, square-ish nails with a very clean base," says Torello. "Usually my go-to is Essie's
BBF Best Boyfriend
, because they give the nail a clean, polished look. Most designs are a challenge to recreate...but anyone could do [this]. Orly sells these
amazing striping brushes with water-based paint
; they’re so easy to use."
"Obviously, we were inspired by the magical emoji shine for this one, and it is actually very easy to recreate!" says Torello. "I took my striper brush and painted crosses of various sizes on each nail; then, [I] went back in and drew an arched line connecting each edge of the cross. Then, you can fill in any empty spots in the middle. Usually, when I do any negative-space design, I use a base coat and one coat of a sheer, natural color."
"This Chanel nail color in
is so amazing — I couldn’t wait to do something with it, [and] I feel like it’s what really makes this mani pop. It’s simple, yet so graphic," says Torello.
"If you have long, almond-shaped nails, this look is amazing!" says Torello. "Instead of doing a French [tip], I thought it would be cool to shift it and drop the line
below the white edge. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I think it's beyond chic. It works best with black because it's so graphic. You can use a striping brush to easily swipe the line; just trace the natural shape of your nail tip."
"Purple and red are my favorite colors together. Paired with the diamond cut-out and almost-square tips, you can’t go wrong," says Torello. "I love the idea of having a solid nail color on your nails, but then doing simple art on the thumbs. It really spices up a mani. I traced the diamond with my
, filled in the rest of the purple, [and] then went back and added the red on the tips. A classic red, like Chanel's
, is my favorite color ever."
"These were for
for Halloween," says Torello. "I like to do something out of the ordinary when it comes to holiday nails, but these can work as an everyday nail as well, because you can easily switch to your favorite colors. I used the head of a pin to make the circles; then, I went back in with a small brush to perfect [them]."
"I was inspired by the idea of black tape," says Torello. "This is a foolproof mani: You can take a striping brush and place thick lines in diagonals across the nails. It's so easy and looks extremely cool!"
"I love how soft these nails look; the design is so simplistic and, in white, is just perfect," says Torello. "I think these work best on a short, 'squoval' nail — it keeps the look clean."
"[It can be hard to make] nail-striping tape stay put... Instead, you can use a striping brush with a cool metallic, like Essie’s amazing
No Place Like Chrome
," says Torello. "It may sound crazy, but metallics can be an alternative to a neutral polish color...they can look super natural and pretty."
"I’m obsessed with glitter, and while I know a lot of people feel it's too young [for them], you can make it more mature and interesting by adding just an accent," says Torello. "I love the idea of a double moon with negative space... The gold glitter here added a little something extra; then, at the very last minute, I added the black triangles to make it a little more interesting."
"I found this wide, gold striping tape at an art supply store, and it’s so gorgeous. It really comes in handy doing negative-space nails," says Torello.
"The ombré trend is so major, and I love it,
but we have seen it done so much that I really wanted to try something different," says Torello. "Before I sponged on the colors, I put down striping tape. Once you get the color on, you peel off the tape and add a topcoat. If you get [applying] the ombré down, you can totally achieve this — and it's totally worth it!"
"For those with long nail beds, or just long nails, this look is fun without being too over-the-top," says Torello. "I love this look on every nail, but this design would look really cool paired with a solid color on some of the other nails as well."
"When you want a simple mani, but you also
want a simple mani, this is the one," says Torello. "A pretty half-moon is forever classy, and you can do a metallic to spice it up for the holidays. For a simple way to get the moon shape, use a
as a guide."
"It’s fun to do a one-color mani and switch up the design a little," says Torello. "I really like a bright orange or an orangey-red, because it’s classy, but bright. This is another look where you can use striping tape as a guide, or just the striper brush. You can also go back with a small brush dipped in acetone to fix any mistakes."
"I’m obsessed with
. I look at patterns and designs mostly," says Torello. "I saw this graphic design in different colors and thought it would be really cool to try on a nail. Instead of adding the background color at the top half of the nail, I decided to just go with the bare nail; it made it even more interesting."
"This is a fairly simple design to achieve, but with strong impact," says Torello. "I’m always drawn to geometric nails and love how graphic they are. This design could be toned down...by doing every nail the same color."
"We're used to seeing nail designs with the V at the base of the nail, which is nice, but I wanted to do something different," says Torello. "For this V shape, I ended up trying it
just at the tip of the nails. A rounded or almond tip works best."
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the
Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page
. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!