Meet the artist behind your favourite freaky nails
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“One motto I live by, is to question everything," says New York-based nail artist Juan Alvear. Juan’s life motto clearly seeps through into his work, influencing his bizarre and unconventional nail creations which question our traditional perceptions of what nail art should be and creates his own surreal and mystical answers.
Juan’s long spiralled nails, painted in unusual colours and decorated with miscellaneous charms, are displayed artistically on his Instagram, where he boasts 16K followers. Juan’s nails are an extension of his natural artistic flair. Studying at Cooper Union, the nail artist focused primarily on painting and sculpture, until he began creating wearable sculptures. These wearable sculptures soon turned into an ongoing series of nail objects and nail sculptures.
“I like the process of making these wacky nails because it combines a lot of the things that I’m really drawn to as a creative," Juan explains. “They exist simultaneously between painting and sculpture and are loud in form and colour."
Initially wanting to be a fashion designer, an interior designer and plastic surgeon, Juan is now working on creating a self-published book of nails. “I have been collaborating with people towards making sure that vision comes to life," Juan says. “Hopefully you’ll also be seeing a few otherworldly sets for this upcoming fashion week."
What’s been your career highlight?
Honestly all of the people I have met through doing this. I really like my ‘nail’ practice because unlike my other forms of making there is both a very reclusive side (making intricate sets can take several hours) and also a very social side where I get to meet people on an intimate level and fit the nails, paint them, all the while getting to know the wearer.
How do you want to change the world?
One change I would like to see in the world would be a collective growth of self-awareness. I don’t think there is an ideal for this world and if there was one, when we reached it we would crave something different. I think there are too many changing tides in opinion for one direction to be the right way. This being said one motto I live by is to question everything. I think by doing so we can move towards a greater understanding of self and other. I constantly find myself playing devil’s advocate even when I agree fully with the other person. I do this usually playfully to question why other people hold the opinions that they do—whether contradictory and often especially when the opinions match my own. It’s easy for there to be no dialogue if everyone assumes they agree with each other.
If not your body then, is there anything you would want to leave behind? An artwork you haven't done yet, a book, a bloodline?
Besides a very confusing online trail, I would like to leave behind a story of who I am and what I did, including the things I thought, a story needing solving and interpreting. I want more than anything to inspire other creatives to realize that they are capable of doing anything they dream of doing even if completely impractical or niche.
You have to replace your body with that of an animal or a mythological creature. What do you go for and why?
I’m going to go with Genie. I think I relate to the idea of them the most. Traditionally they are intended to be free thinkers with endless energy but are entrapped by sorcerers. Constantly seeking a way out of entrapment.
You encounter a hostile alien race with an inability to see colour, while sound is their only mechanism for communication. What would you play to them to inspire them to spare you and the rest of the human race?
Closer by Nine Inch Nails.
It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like and why?
I think I would make people look less alike. Less distinguishable from each other and their origins. Also eating and sleeping is inconvenient so I’d also stop that nonsense. Actually, I’d skip over all of that and just make them bodiless. It seems that’s where we are headed anyway.