When we discussed 3D printing in class and visited the digital media lab in the library, one of the things that crossed my mind was to do nail art with 3D printing. At first 3D printing didn’t seem that promising in its artistic potential but that impression likely comes from the relatively new and untested printers in our library. While the small printers in our library would be perfect for nail art, larger works of art would require bigger and more complex printers.
Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen created several haute couture pieces from 3D printing. These articles of clothing are incredibly breathtaking, a meshing of chaos and femininity that fits like a second skin on the models. There is no way 3D printed fashion pieces would ever be mass produced or even worn off the runway – the pieces are solid and inflexible. Despite this, the landscape of fashion is changing with the development of new technologies that make it possible to take art where it’s never gone before. Art is going to grow in rapid and innovative ways with more and more people using digital humanities creatively.
Nail art is an ever growing art form. There are of course, simple manicures that are doable at home which are growing in popularity but there is also Nailympia. Nailympia is an international nail art competition that includes a competition in 3D sculpture. The massive pieces of art that are attached to models’ fingers are intricate and beautiful; hours of work obviously went into creating the sculptures and planning the final product. 3D printing would open the doors for a totally new area of artistic expression (though there is something about printing that seems dull and uninvolved) in nail art. The miniscule pieces required for nail art could be more easily created through the utilization of 3D printers. Alternatively, entire sets of nails could be printed on a large enough printer. Whether or not this would include the acrylics I don’t know. It seems possible that nail pieces could be printed, it is my understanding that there is a process around attaching acrylics that might be difficult to replicate with 3D printed pieces. If entire sets of nails were printed, then it seems possible that fans would be able to purchase copies of the nail sets to keep as art pieces in their home. Artists could also make 3D models of their nail art pieces and upload it online for people to buy/print.
Beyond Nailympia, there is also the possibility of smaller scale nail art sculptures becoming a fad in popular culture. If someone has access to a 3D printer they could make their own set of nail sculptures. Since complex nail art makes everyday life difficult, I imagine these as smaller sculptures that rest directly on the nail or at the base of acrylics. Artists could swap designs online via 3D model platforms such as Sketchfab. Art has the amazing capacity to connect people across the world and with the Internet, there are plenty of people who make friends with people they would never meet in person. Artists already create online communities in which they share their art and build connections, 3D printing offers a new niche for artists to explore.