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Glazed for the gods

Nail artist Daniel Smedeman is the freshest name in the game.

Be it ink on skin or fingers encircled in metal rings, the desire to practice self-decoration is perhaps as human as we get. But while adorning one’s body may have once aligned with and represented the wearer’s social rank or economic status, today the appeal resides in a distinct sense of belonging. And don’t get us wrong here—body decorations are (mostly) no cheap affair. Still, the bond you feel with someone, who got inked by the same artist, or whose perfume reminds you of someone you love, is inexplicable but undeniable; if you know, you know.

The decoration-obsessed community fanatics that we are, artists who participate in the rituals of adornment can’t escape our watch and love. And right now, there’s a name on the radar, whose craft we’ve seen all over dance floors and Instagram feeds. We’re talking rising nail master Daniel Smedeman. Rooted in Amsterdam and manifesting his creations under moniker Glazed, Daniel is freshening up the local nail art scene, standing in as a figure around which a tight-knit community is swiftly gravitating.

Art illustrations, sculptures and high fashion co-exist within Glazed’s visual world, and whether you’re an RnB babe or a rave queen, it’s almost certain your nails have been, or will soon be, under Daniel’s brush. Dazed and glazed by his ever-shifting, conceptual designs, Glamcult sat down for a nail session and talk on community, muses and challenges with Daniel himself.

Hey Daniel! Before we dive deeper, I wanted to know—why nails?

I’ve never been drawn to nails at all, but when I started watching “Claws”, an American TV show, I saw the many possibilities.

And would you say your past professional experiences, as a stylist and in PR, influence the work you do now?

It almost feels as if I had to walk this path to be exactly where I am now. Working as a stylist taught me a lot about creating a story within one picture, and working in PR got me in contact with all the right people and showed me the power of social media. I think without these previous experiences, I would have approached what I do now in a very different way.

You seem to heavily draw inspiration from fashion and art. Could you elaborate?

To me, fashion and art come before everything else. Without both, there would be no way for me to be inspired and fuelled to create. It’s so easy to drift away from your natural inspiration and be lost in the many nail designs on social media. During a communication training, I was given the advice to find inspiration elsewhere, and so I did.

I’m interested to know in which field do you position nail art? Sculpture, traditional art, fashion, or something else entirely?

I see nail art as an extension, or interpretation, of all of the above.

Your work attracts, and seems to centre on, a community building practice. Why is this of importance to you?

Indeed, I think it’s important to surround yourself with beings that stimulate your creative process. Building a squad that resembles and caters to a particular community. I’m not afraid to exclude a group of people to embrace the ones I attract. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy doing a little leopard print every now and then.

Who do you imagine as the archetypal wearer of your nail art? In a way, who’s the muse?

Claire Louhenapessy is one of my faces/muses that sets the tone for my aesthetic. People I dream of are Frank Ocean, Björk, FKA twigs, Beth Ditto, Cynthia Erivo, Hunter Schafer, and Michele Lamy.

Michele Lamy!

Could you imagine! Dream big and it might come true…

Judging on the way you choose to present your work online, the nail art itself is part of a larger context and curatorial process. Why do you make this decision?

It’s important for me to tell a story to convey a mood. Who is the person wearing these nails? What are they into? What are they wearing? Creating interest generates a need to belong. I want to imprint a vision. Sometimes I already have an image in my head, or a pose I would like to use, before knowing what nail design it will be.

Would you say nails can be considered an accessory?

I think that, in one way or another, everything is an accessory.

I read into nail art history, and it appears the origins of it are rooted in decoration beyond gender expression. Today however, as a (mostly) male presenting person, I feel uncomfortable walking into a nail art salon. Why do you think this shift occurred?

There are many things that once were, but are later frowned upon. Both men and women used to wear robes and dresses, make-up and wigs. Heels were originally designed for men. I’m not really sure when in history this clear division occurred, between what could be worn by the genders. Perhaps it came with the rise of Western society, but I’m glad these gender-divided days are almost at an end. Either way, nail polish for men has been around in some subcultures throughout the ages.

And what’s your stance on more men both as artists and wearers of nail art?

We should all be able to do whatever job or wear whatever the fuck we want!

Are there any differences within your approach to nail art for women and men? 

It might vary slightly but I also think it’s different with each person. The art should reflect the wearer and the artist. The thing that makes it more masculine or feminine is the length of the nail, but even that is questionable to me.

Does challenge play a role in your creative process?

Yes, it does a lot! I have an urge for personal growth and I don’t like to repeat myself. I’m always on the lookout for something new, like right now I’m into 3D nails. Also, I always ask my clients to send me pictures of things they find interesting. In this way, I’m introduced to new ideas that challenge me all the time.

Does the drive for new work originate mostly from you, or does the person you’re creating for spark your creative flow?

A bit of both, I think. My “muses” give me carte blanche when we have our sessions, but in the end it’s always a design that fits their personality

If you imagine yourself as a nail prophet, could you share with us what the 2020 nail trend will be? 

Haha, a prophet…. Well, 3D nails, nails with texture.

Is there a figure, from times past, present or future, which you would consider your dream collaborator?

Jean Michel Basquiat What’s your piece of advice for creative entrepreneurs on their mission to break through?

Be true to who you are, but challenge yourself always within this truth. Also, work sustainably.

Words by Valkan Dechev

 

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