This Nail Artist Is Using Her Art To Empower Black Womanhood
Every day our people use their art to amaze us in ways unimaginable and nail artist Gracie J is no different. You’ve probably seen her work in Nylon, Essence, Paper Magazine, and on the hit TNT series Claws, but there’s so much more to the New York native who is now on her way to adding creative director to her list of talents.
As Gracie told us in an interview, “I’m a woman of many artistic talents and I don’t want to pigeonhole myself to just being a nail artist. I want to freely step outside of the box and elevate what I do beyond working with just one medium.”
Her ongoing series, Nails At First Sight, aims to highlight dynamic Black women who are influential in their respective fields. As a woman who works with her hands to cultivate beauty and positivity within her industry, she uses her hands and love for her craft to elevate other women around her. Her goal is to create engaging content that portrays women, particularly Black women, in a strong positive light whilst capturing their softness through story-telling, as well as the nails that have been uniquely curated to bring out their inner fierceness.
Through being constantly inspired by Black women, Gracie produced and creatively directed a recent shoot for Nails At First Sight featuring social media influencer and hair maven Julie Dastinè (@JayHairBigga)—a woman whose YouTube twistout tutorial will have you jumping for joy. With Julie, Gracie recreated and celebrated the badassery of three iconic women in history, Minnie Riperton, Frida Kahlo and Sade Adu, while bringing focus to the hands. As Gracie noted, these icons were strong women who embraced their womanhood, sensuality, and talent to create their work unapologetically.
This is just one of Gracie’s many series that pay homage to important people and moments in our rich history. Her Black History Month series featured a new nail every day celebrating the many feats of Black people. She’s also used her craft in support of LGBTQ rights—most recently doing the nails of Angelica Ross for the Pose FX premiere. Gracie has proven that she, too, embodies qualities of the women she celebrates, and her constant uplifting of Black women through nail art has garnered her acclaim from coast to coast.
“Being a nail artist encompasses more than just painting nails,” Gracie stated. “A lot of people forget the ‘art’ part in Nail art. Nail art can be interactive, it can be conversational, it can be used to unlock other doors to our creative potential. Being an artist overall allows me to explore all sides of my creative capabilities. That way, I can challenge myself daily and step outside of my comfort zone to produce bigger projects that are just as inspirational.”
Needless to say, we stan for Gracie and her ability to make us want to both make a nail appointment and sing the Black National Anthem at the same damn time.
Creative Director/Producer/Nail Artist: Gracie J
Photographer: Joe Chea
Model: Julie Dastinè
Makeup Artist: Alana Wright
Hairstylist: Guslene Bubak
Floral Stylist: Quinn Bruck
Fashion Stylist: Christine Nicholson
Videographer: Dom Pagan