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Nail Art How-to: Inspired by Andy Warhol


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One of the most iconic artists of the past century, the inimitable Andy Warhol is a favorite of many.

Last month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened an exhibit called “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years”featuring the pop art pioneer and other artists that he inspired. The exhibit is a must-see for all Warhol enthusiasts, and viewing the pieces really made me reflect on the awesome images this visionary created. Then, of course, I wanted to emulate him…on my nails.

Below, I’ll show you how to create a pop art manicure inspired by Andy Warhol himself.

What You’ll Need

This tutorial takes inspiration from a lot of different pieces, which means lots of different colors!

If you want a different piece of art on each nail, like I did, you will need red, white, yellow, teal, light pink, green, blue, navy, and orange polishes, as well as a detail brush. I know it’s a lot of colors, but I promise – the end result is worth it!

Step-by-Step Andy Warhol Nails

As I mentioned, I decided to use a different piece as inspiration for each nail. However, one cool thing about Warhol’s work is that he likes to repeat single images over and over, so painting a similar design on four or five nails is also very true to his vision. If that’s more your style, then you can pick and choose which designs you want on each nail. Either way, crank up some Velvet Underground and let’s get started!

1. Thumb: Campbell’s Soup Can

I decided to start with Big Campbell’s Soup Can, 19¢ (Beef Noodle), an iteration of the image that is arguably Warhol’s most famous — the Campbell’s soup can.

To start, paint your thumb nail white. Next, use red polish and a detail brush to paint the top half of your nail red, and then add another stripe of red toward the bottom of the nail, to imitate the design of the can. (As always, you can tape off these lines if you don’t have a steady hand!)

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Campbell's Soup Can nail step 1

Once that dries, use your yellow polish and a detail brush to paint a circle in the center of the nail and then add a line near the top of the nail.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Campbell's Soup Can nail step 2

I like this interpretation, because it only uses the approximate design of the can — a minimalist take on Warhol’s work, if you will. Furthermore, it doesn’t actually use the label ‘Campbell’s,’ subverting Warhol’s idea of branding and pop culture as art. Or, you know, you’re painting with nail polish on a canvas the size of a thumbnail and it’s pretty much impossible to write ‘Campbell’s’ on there. One or the other.

2. Pointer Finger: Coca-Cola Bottle

For my pointer finger, I decided to take my inspiration from Green Coca-Cola BottlesThis is one of the pieces that features the same image printed over and over again, so it would be appropriate to paint this bottle on all or most of your nails, if you’re into that instead of different designs on each nail.

To start, once again paint the nail white. Next, using the teal polish and a detail brush, make the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle by painting two mirroring curvy lines.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Coca Cola Bottle nail step 1

Next, close off the top and bottom of the bottle and added two horizontal lines to indicate where the label would go (again, no words, because we’re making statements about art and Warhol’s legacy/if anyone can manage to write Coca-Cola with a nail art brush on this scale, I will be seriously impressed).

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Coca Cola Bottle nail step 2

For the finishing touch, paint a couple vertical lines above and below the label.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Coca Cola Bottle nail step 3

3. Middle Finger: Marilyn Monroe’s Lips

Next, for the middle finger, I decided to emulate the piece Marilyn Monroe’s Lips, yet another work with lots of repeating images and thus also awesome for many nails. To start, paint the middle finger a light pink.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Marilyn Monroe lips nail step 1

Next, paint the top of a pair of lips with the red polish using the detail brush — basically two connecting curves and a line under them, kind of like a filled-in letter ‘B.’

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Marilyn Monroe lips nail step 2

Next, paint the bottom lip with the red polish and detail brush, basically one large curve connecting the two sides of the upper lip.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Marilyn Monroe lips nail step 3

Finally, add in Marilyn’s iconic teeth by filling in the center with white using the detail brush. (Jokes, her teeth weren’t actually iconic, I just find it amusing how virtually every part of her body is ‘iconic.’)

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Marilyn Monroe lips nail step 4

4. Ring Finger: Blue Flower

For the ring finger, I decided to go with a design inspired by Flowers. First, paint the nail green.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Flower nail step 1

Next, paint a flower shape with the detail brush and blue polish. If you wanted, you could also do a white flower, as Warhol actually has two pieces called Flowers, one with blue blossoms and one with white… but more color more fun, right?

The shape doesn’t have to be perfect – if you look at the original print, the four flowers are all a bit lopsided, and I mean, nature isn’t perfect, right? Life imitates art, art imitates life, whatever, just try your best.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Flower nail step 2

Finally, add a center to your flower with black polish and a detail brush. In the actual print, the centers of these flowers are formed by a few dots in the center, with a sort of negative image of the flower stigma.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Flower nail step 3

5. Pinky: “Self Portrait”

And now just one more nail! For the final nail, I wanted to draw inspiration from Self Portrait, which you can see at the top of this post. I don’t exactly have the skill (or patience) to draw a mini Andy Warhol on my pinky, so instead I decided to use the vivid colors for inspiration.

There are actually several different iterations of Self Portrait, with slightly different colors, and the one above doesn’t exactly match the one in the Met collection that I used for inspiration; however, the idea here is placing colors spatially, so even slightly different colors will yield a similar result. To start, paint a strip of navy on the left of your nail.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Self portrait nail step 1

Next, use yellow polish on your detail brush to make a sort of triangle going from about a third of the way down the navy strip to the top of the nail. Then paint nearly all of the rest of the nail orange with the detail brush, save a thin strip on the right.

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Self portrait nail step 2

Finally, paint that last strip blue with the detail brush (and clean up your lines once it all dries, like I did).

Andy Warhol-inspired Manicure: Self portrait nail step 3

The Finished Product

That’s it – we’re done! This takes a little more effort than most of my tutorials, but I think it’s really worth it because your nails will look AWESOME. And who doesn’t love Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol nails

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on this Andy Warhol manicure? Would you try any of these designs? Which are your favorites? Are you a fan of Andy Warhol? What are your favorite pieces of his? Do you like nail art inspired by famous artists? As always, let me know what you think in the comments!


Posted on on November 1, 2012 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , ,

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13 Responses to “Nail Art How-to: Inspired by Andy Warhol”

  1. 1
    November 1st, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    very cute nails. I’m trying not to laugh too loud in the library at your “iconic teeth” comment. love it.

  2. 2
    November 1st, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    great article! great inspiration! please do another “inspired by” nail tutorial!

  3. 3
    November 1st, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I love the flower nail! I might just do that on all my nails (in different colors!

  4. 4
    November 2nd, 2012 at 5:17 am

    haha very Nice :)

  5. 5
    November 3rd, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I love Pop Art and am gonna try out these ideas for sure. My favourite is the ‘Self Portrait’ inspired one it looks kind of seventies too so I will be giving that a go to wear with my autumn clothes. A x

  6. 6
    November 3rd, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    This is legit(:

  7. 7
    November 4th, 2012 at 1:29 am

    I love this post, and the finished hand is so neat! More like this, please!

  8. 8
    November 4th, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I love the pinky and the thumb art! They are so… quirky and fun! I might do it with different colors, but they are totally adorable! Please make morre posts like these!!

  9. 9
    November 4th, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Oh, and they should make the coke bottle red, it doesn’t even look like a coke bottle!

  10. 10
    October 25th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I own a nail salon, and this is the FIRST time I have ever seen someone paint their nails by inspiration(s) of Andy Warhol. Cute :)

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