Fingernail art is an elaboration on a basic manicure involving more design work than the application of a single color. The art may be applied directly to a person's fingernail or it may be applied to an artificial nail before the nail is attached. Although there are some common techniques for fingernail art, the craft is only limited by what a person is willing to wear attached to his or her fingers.
The most basic idea in fingernail art is to create an aesthetically pleasing design on the surface of the nails. This craft can also be applied to toenails, although people sometimes have more difficulty making toenail designs last long enough to justify the cost. Fingernail artists can create all kinds of designs on fingernails, from patterns involving rhinestones to photographic images. Different communities often prefer different kinds of designs, with some being much more popular than others.
One of the simplest forms of fingernail art involves placing a sticker on the fingernail. This may be applied over a base of nail polish or on its own. Stickers may often be purchased in special nail art kits, and are most often designed to resemble a painted image. Some stickers, however, are raised or puffy, creating a three dimensional design.
Similarly, very small rhinestones can also be glued to the fingernail with a special glue intended for use with nails. These can be applied in patterns to create designs. Rhinestones and other objects are often glued to the nail in combination with other techniques.
Stencils and stamps are also often used in fingernail art. With these techniques, one color of nail polish is applied on top of another. For stencils, the polish is painted over the stencil onto the nail to create the design. With stamps, the nail polish is applied to the stamp and then to the nail. These techniques have the unfortunate problem of smearing easily when used with little practice, but a nail art professional is often able to overcome this difficulty.
One of the most interesting techniques used in fingernail art involves printing directly on a nail. This may be a real or false nail, depending on the machine used. By using a printer, extremely detailed designs can be achieved. Possible applications include printing photographs on nails, or producing nails with recognizable graphics that are too difficult to paint.
While fingernail art can be a lot of fun, it can also be inappropriate in many situations. For instance, long fingernails may be seen as inappropriate in many profession situations, due to both dress standards and the need for full use of the fingers. Sparkling or flashy nail art, even when applied to short nails, may also strike some as inappropriate. Sticking to conventional designs in muted colors is probably the safest plan for a working person, unless he or she is very familiar with the company's dress standards.