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Taichi Yamane nails
Courtesy of Taichi Yamane

Self-taught teen Taichi Yamane’s nail sculptures are wonderfully weird

The Tokyo high school student’s trial and error approach has led to him developing a unique aesthetic

Thanks to Miss Rona, the past year has been difficult for almost everyone, for more reasons than anybody wants to reflect on. Despite this, one small silver lining – that we can credit to hours stuck at home during various lockdowns – is the new skills people have taught themselves, from sewing and DIY to baking. 

Among these go-getters is Tokyo-based high schooler Taichi Yamane, who decided to start experimenting with nail art. “I’ve always liked nail art as fashion since I was in junior high school,” Yamane tells Dazed. “I was in the art club at school making various artworks and then I started making nails to stick to them, but I started making nails properly this year.” 

Ping-ponging between oversized talons and cutesy claws, Yamane’s playful style is unlike anything you’ve seen in nail art before. For one set, miniature flowers look like they’re sprouting right out of the nail beds; another galactic glow-in-the dark set protrude and twist out of the hand; while a tongue-in-cheek set comes with keys that hang like piercings.

“When I get an idea or see something interesting, I immediately write it down on my phone so I don’t forget,” he explains of his creative process. “I get inspiration from culture, fashion, art, and seeing something I think would be cool on a person’s nails.” 

With Yamane’s experimental approach, nothing is out of the question, and he often uses found objects and different processes with UV nail gel to achieve his unique style and find new ways of creating. “I’m having fun developing my skills and testing out the ideas that come to mind,” he says. “When I can’t think of anything, I just put on the base gel and see where it goes. Sometimes I don’t have the skills to shape what I’ve imagined, but I love it when I come up with a nail art idea and can execute it.” 

While the high school student is just starting out, he’s already part of a cohort of Japanese creatives pushing the boundaries of what nail art can be. Since he started creating, he’s connected with a number of his peers from Tomoya Nakagawa to Harajuku-based @hiro.sucre who designed Yamane’s first manicure when he graduated junior high school. “I’ve been so pleased hearing from nail artists I respect on Instagram that they like my work,” he gushes. 

At the tender age of 16, most of us (writer included) were stumbling along without a clue who we wanted to be or what we wanted to do. Taichi, on the other hand, is resolved to continue creating nail art while expanding his skills and honing his aesthetic. “I’m greedy when it comes to nails,” he reflects. “I want fun and sophistication at the same time. It’s about finding the balance of fun and a surprise without losing sophistication. I really value sophistication when it comes to nail art design.” 

Ultimately, he’s positive about what the future holds and where his creations will take him. “I have so many interests in various things, all I want to do is acquire knowledge, go abroad, and meet people I haven’t met.”