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Fleury Rose

Nail artist

Fleury Rose

Rose once studied fine art. Now she’s bringing those skills to a much smaller canvas.

[Photographs by ioulex]

For elevating the art of finger painting.

The Brooklyn-based fingernail decorator's intricate designs—inspired by everything from Chanel to manga to Twin Peaks—helped spark the recent obsession with over-the-top polish creations. Now Fleury Rose is courted by celebrities, fashion editors, beauty-product companies, and runway designers, while trendsetters such as Nicki Minaj and Martha Stewart are getting in on the craze. Nail art has gotten so popular that manicure supplies have now officially surpassed lipstick sales.

Fast Company: How did you get into this unusual line of work?

Rose: Before doing nails, I studied fine art: illustration, comics, painting, sculpture. I knew I wanted to do something creative, but I wasn't sure what. I found a community of girls on Tumblr who were doing cool nail stuff. I just love doing tiny, detailed little paintings. It never dawned on me that I could make a career out of it.

When did it turn into a career?

Social media was definitely a big part of it. Also just living in New York, you never know who will see your work. For instance, [fashion writer] Madison Stephens was a client and was interning at Teen Vogue. She would always come in and get these really cool, fashion-inspired nails. We'd do all the prints from the new Givenchy collection, or whatever. Her boss would see Madison's nails, and they ended up doing a really big story on me.

You've done work for Carly Rae Jepsen, Emma Watson, and Florence Welch, among others. Who's your favorite celebrity client so far?

It's very hard to decide, but I think my favorite was Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi got black nails with a big golden dragon that went all the way across, inspired by one of her tattoos. I got to go to her home and meet her daughter and granddaughters, and did all of their nails.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

Right now, I'm painting my leather jacket. I'm always personalizing my clothing. Over the summer, I also did a tour poster for the band Black Flag. In addition to nail stuff, I do a lot of other projects as well. It's what keeps your style fresh and true to what makes you an artist.