Dotty: Nail Art Inspired By Yayoi Kusama

I made Japan's "polka dot princess" the artist in residence... on my nails!
Publish date:
June 12, 2013
manicures, nail art, How-To, Revlon, nail polishes, artists, China Glaze, art, dots, Yayoi Kusama

I love Yayoi Kusama so much. She’s like a wise, eccentric grandma who is obsessed with cross-stitch. Except Yayoi Kusama doesn’t cross-stitch; she makes amazing contemporary art.

She’s been part of the art world for over 60 years, and in that time I don’t even want to know how many dots she’s brought into existence from her early childhood self-portrait to her performance art in 1960s New York to the estimated 50,000 pieces she’s created while living in a Japanese psychiatric ward.

Kusama loves herself some dots because, in her words, “Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments.”

So, if you want your nails to become one with the world and yourself and Kusama’s vision, you’ll need:

  • True red creme polish (I used Rimmel Double Decker Red)
  • Primary yellow creme polish (It’s a bit tricky to find a good one but I’m really happy with China Glaze Happy Go Lucky.)
  • Black creme polish (Revlon Knockout)
  • White creme polish (This was HARD to find because they are often really sheer for french manicures, but Single White Female from Chi Chi worked well. I don’t know if Glennis would be down with that name.)
  • A set of dotting tools, or if you’re lazy like me, a couple of bobby pins and kitchen skewers
  • A piece of plastic or paper to use as your tiny artist’s palette

Firstly, you’ll want to paint your nails with a base coat, then apply two coats of solid color to your nails. I went with one yellow nail for each hand, one black nail, and then alternated red and white for the rest of them.

Wait for them to dry before doing the next bit because otherwise it can be a bit messy. I’m not very good at this. It’s just like the way I always ice my cakes when they’re still warm and all the delicious frosting slides off and I’m sad. SO WAIT. Do what I say, not as I do.

Then, take the red polish and put a big blob on the little palette you created. Using the bigger end of the skewer, dip it in the polish and gently place it on one of your white nails. Do a couple of dots, maybe taking one to the edge of your nail and doing a half-dot. Then take a bobby pin that you’ve pulled apart and use that to make teeny dots to randomly fill in the spaces.

Move on to your next color. You’ll want to do a single color at a time because otherwise your little dot of polish with get all dry and goopy and the dots won’t turn out well.

Then watch an episode of something on Netflix and wait for it all to dry.

A slick of topcoat will stop the surface of your nails from feeling all freaky and bumpy, plus make it last longer!

Let me know if you try it! And tell me what other artists could inspire some nail art!