Tomoya Nakagawa’s nail art often seems less like a manicure and more like futuristic daggers extending from the fingers, transforming the wearer into an intergalactic creature ready to rip your throat out with their powerful claws. Long and pointed, in shapes ranging from razor-sharp knives to winged hearts and elaborate icicles, the nails are awe-inspiring in their beauty, creativity and skill. “I like to see things I’ve never seen before and I love beautiful and unusual things,” he told Dazed. “I would love for my artwork to achieve that.”
When Tokyo-based Nakagawa first started doing nails in 2020 the work was more delicate, with near-microscopic amoeba blobs growing out from the fingers. His current style of weapons forged in a far-off future where technology and nature exist in perfect harmony may seem, at first glance, a complete transformation, but when you look closer motifs and throughlines emerge. At the heart of Nakagawa’s work remains a grounding in natural forms, organic shapes inspired by plants, minerals and living creatures.
This influence can no doubt be traced back to Nakagawa’s experiences as a fisherman on the small island of Kii Oshima in the Wakayama Prefecture, as well as an upbringing surrounded by nature. While he swapped fishing for nails a few years ago, after being inspired by his partner, the nail artist Eichi Matsunaga, he still returns to the island to create his work, a process which involves CAD, a 3D printer and an airbrush. The resulting creations have been worn by everyone from Bjork and Rina Sawayama to models at Iris Van Herpen, and no doubt many, many more to come.
Text Alex Peters