100 Creatives

Why Jimmy Nguyen Fuses Street Art with Nail Art

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 38. Jimmy Nguyen.

Jimmy Nguyen has a cult following. 

It's not uncommon among those in his profession. Nguyen is a nail technician. It's the type of beauty service where, once salon patrons find a tech they like, a sort of doting loyalty tends to follow. But that title, "tech," doesn't capture the artistic talent and eye for design that he brings to the manicurist table at Stash House Az, a Central Phoenix salon on Seventh Street north of Camelback Road. 

Nguyen is a nail artist, one with some 6,000 Instagram followers who comment glowing praise like "want!" and "I love these" on each photo of his latest handiwork. You can follow him @buddhasnails, where you'll find glittering stiletto acrylics complemented by drawings inspired by the art of Takashi Murakami. Old English lettering fills in sparkling almond-shaped nails. Reinterpretations of bird works by street artist Joseph "Sentrock" Perez, who grew up in Phoenix and now works in Chicago, offer a portfolio dotting short-trimmed, clean, and clear fingers.

While it can be delicate and girly, his style gravitates toward strong imagery, bold line work, and graphic detail. Much of it, in other words, could translate to tattoo art with ease.

"I got into doing nails because I felt there was something lacking in the overall 'experience' of a nail service," Nguyen, 28, says. "The beauty industry is dominated by women, and as a male, I feel I offer a different perspective while providing services that are heavily influenced by street art and culture."

Simply, the Phoenix nail artist takes in the world around him and he paints it. That means murals, movies, landscapes, sports teams, and constellations. From Star Wars to "Hotline Bling," nothing's out of bounds. 

"The thing that inspires me is the creative minds of artists," Nguyen says, citing Andy Warhol among his greatest influences. "Andy Warhol's 32 Campbell's Soup Cans had the most impact because he was able to take an already familiar item and make it iconic."

It is precisely the reason his clients — more like fans — keep coming back.

I am born and bred in Phoenix, AZ.

I make art because it makes me happy to see how happy my clients and others get.

I am most productive when the vibe is good, music, conversations, and just general vibe.

I have a few pieces of local art from a few good friends of mine such as Joshua Rhodes and Josh Brizuela.

I learn the most from just life experiences, both the good and the bad.

Good work should always include the artist's signature style.

Phoenix's creative scene could use more inclusivity. There are so many artists in Phoenix that are overlooked.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer