Drawing a Mario character or an intricate tribal design is already difficult; even more so is painting it on a canvas only a few millimeters long. Maya Benia ’15, however, does it with ease. Nail art has become very popular in recent years, and Benia has followed the trend. Benia, a nail artist of two years, is constantly practicing and perfecting her art and now manages an Instagram account, @filedandstyled, featuring some of her work.

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Maya Benia ’15

While she originally painted things like characters on her nails, Benia now focuses more on designs, collecting inspiration from everywhere and everything, including other nail artists and outfits. “There are a lot of amazing artists on Instagram that I see, and sometimes I’ll see some of their artwork or my friends will show me some of their work and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, look at this, it’s so pretty! I have to do it!’” Benia said. “I can find inspiration in anything, even clothing. Sometimes, if I have an outfit, I’ll just take the colors and I can put them together and make them into something.”

With 287 bottles of nail polish and years of experience under her belt, Benia is obviously not a novice, but she did start that way. Bored one day, she began watching the nail artist YouTuber known as “cutepolish.” “She has some really simple tutorials and I thought they were really cute, so I started doing them,” Benia said. Now, she has a blog and her Instagram account has more than 800 followers. In fact, wizened by her own experience, Maya has advice she gives to beginning nail artists: “Always use a base coat because it makes your nail polish stay on better and it protects your nails from staining,” Benia said. “If you use a makeup brush dipped in acetone and swipe it along your cuticle, it cleans up all the extra nail polish that can pool in there, and it looks really clean.” Like most skills, nail art takes a great deal of practice, and it doesn’t come easily. “At first, I was really bad, but after I practiced more, I got a little better, and it was just so rewarding and I loved it so much,” Benia said.

Benia occasionally does her friends’ nails as well. “Seeing how happy it makes them makes me really happy too,” Benia said. Benia plans on pursuing nail art in the future. “For my senior project, I want to go to nail school and become a licensed [nail] technician,” she said. In addition, Benia has an interest in psychology and aspires to become a psychologist who does nail art. “I think it’d be the perfect fit,” she said.

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