Miss Pop Talks Tips & Tools For Nail Art Novices

Lesson one: put down the striping tape and pick up some blue painter's tape.
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Kate F.
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Lesson one: put down the striping tape and pick up some blue painter's tape.

I met Simcha Whitehill--professionally and perhaps more accurately known as Miss Pop--for the first time this past summer, in the glorious Cosmopolitan beauty closet.

Whirling around in a cloud of nail lacquers and glitter, the New York City-based nail artist was all non-stop energy and '50s flair. What struck me most, though, was her attitude: unlike a lot of industry high rollers, Miss Pop was, well, kind. She had a tangible optimism and gratitude about her that--along with her insane talent for unique nail art--makes it easy to see why she's in such high demand.

nail artist miss pop

This woman is electric! 

Who better, then, to garner 2015 beauty inspiration from? I recently caught up with Miss Pop, and let’s just say that I’m planning on being a grade A nail art Matisse by December 2015. 

What inspires your designs?

"I live in New York City and I’m really inspired by it. Just like nail art, and just like any big city, it’s art in itself because it’s constantly growing and evolving and changing. Not to mention all the people that inhabit New York! I don’t think I could ever leave."

black nail art

Nail art inspired by New York City’s Chrysler Building.

What are your favorite type of projects to work on?

"My favorite thing to do is Fashion Week, because I love collaborating with fashion designers and coming up with the looks . . . And it’s stuff that everyone at home can incorporate and do, because if we can do it backstage in 10 or 15 minutes, you can surely do it at home."

red nail art

Miss Pop, painting nails during Spring 2015 New York Fashion Week.

What advice do you have for nail art newbies who are struggling to get a pro-style finish?   

"Here’s what you can do until you master [painting with your non-dominant hand]: I use a brush that I get at the art supply store, I get a small Filbert head. You can even use an old eye shadow brush! What you do is dip it in your nail polish remover, and just wipe around the edge of the nail to wipe away any remaining polish." 

What other tools do you recommend keeping in a home nail art kit?  

"The other thing you need is a dotter. Here’s the magic: they make perfect circles every time, and they come in a range of sizes. You can do polka dots, you can do eyeballs, you can do hearts . . . I use blue painter’s tape to do any kind of cutouts backstage. It doesn’t leave as much sticky residue [as other kinds of tape], and it’s the most resilient in the face of polish. Put it down before your base coat, do base coat around it, then two coats of polish. Then, when it looks almost dry but not completely--I call it ‘set,’ when you could touch it and it would leave a fingerprint, but it’s not moving or smushing--then you lift the tape up.

miss pop nails backstage at fashion week

Miss Pop, backstage at the Rodebjer fall 2013 show. (photo by Joel Barhamand)

Before hanging up the phone, Miss Pop said something awesome, “I’m not a classically trained painter, but I am a classically obsessed nail girl.”

  • Do you consider yourself a “classically obsessed nail girl”?
  • What are your ride or die at-home nail art tools? 
  • Leave your best nail art selfies in the comments, please!