INTERVIEW: Oxygen's Nail'd It Judge & CND Style Director, Jan Arnold

Thursday, December 04, 2014


A few weeks ago, I featured an interview with Nail Professional and Nail'd It Contestant, Jamie Melchor. Today I have for you, an interview with world-renown nail artist, Jan Arnold, an expert judge on Oxygen's Nail'd It competition series.  Jan Arnold is the Co-Founder & Style Director of CND (Creative Nail Design) and has worked to make CND the go-to company for nails.  Aside from running her family-owned company, CND, Jan has worked with major fashion designers for nail collaborations during fashion week! 

Hello Jan! I know you are super busy, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions! First, tell us how you linked up with Oxygen to be a judge for Nail’d It?
Back in January 2014, a few of the “Nail’d It” producers and Oxygen executives stopped by the CND booth at ISSE in Long Beach, CA to chat about the show and see if I would be interested in being an expert judge! We discussed the opportunity at great length that weekend and throughout the coming weeks, and I knew I couldn't pass it up. At CND, we are always looking for new ways to elevate the professional nail industry, and this series is a unique opportunity to showcase these artists and their craft to a vast consumer audience that is sure to be in awe of their talents and creativity!

I’m sure this is not your first time judging a nail competition, but is it your first time judging one on TV?
I have been lucky enough to be an expert judge for ‘live competitions’ all around the world for many years, but this is the first ever televised nail competition and therefore my first experience in this format. I am also a judge for NAILS Magazine’s Next Top Nail Artist online competition – CND is the title sponsor this year!

Congratulations! I'll have to link to that, so my readers can find out more about it! What would you say is the hardest thing about judging a nail art competition, on or off TV?
I look for precision and excellence in execution of the challenge technically, but I also look for new ideas and creative interpretations of each challenge. I find many competitors take the challenge too literally. The real winners are those who use the challenge to inspire a new creative approach to their art.

Should we expect any surprises, from the judges or the contestants? Any feisty attitudes as the season progresses?
Viewers can expect to see some amazing talent and creativity throughout the season! In each episode, the contestants face-off in a “Quick Dry” Challenge crafting flawless flat paint designs and an “Elimination Challenge” where they create over-the-top 3D masterpieces using everything from lacquers, gels and acrylics to embellishments and unconventional materials. There are definitely some interesting personalities and surprises throughout the season – you won’t want to miss an episode!


As judges, were you able to assist in coming up with the challenges?
The overall challenges were pre-determined before shooting each episode, but we definitely made our voices heard throughout the process and the producers were great about taking our expert input and implementing it throughout the season!

When did you first know that you wanted to work in the nail industry? When did you first dream up the concept for CND and why? How did you pursue your career in the nail industry?
My father was a dentist, and also a chemist. He had a lab at home in our garage, and in 1979 he invented the first ever cross-linked polymer for light, thin and non-yellowing sculpted nails, called SolarNail. My father gifted our family with the vision and formula, so we went about learning the market. Nail salons were popping up all over Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. He gave us the idea, but not the money, so we went to a bank to get our first loan. I actually sculpted a nail on the banker’s pinky finger right at his desk, and I think he was taken by our passion, which is why we got the loan! We incorporated in 1979 and the rest is history!


I love that! That's a great story! Who were some of your mentors in the beauty & fashion industry?
My father was my ultimate mentor, setting the stage for our philosophies in business, which still hold true to this day. Those are a commitment to ‘advancing the state of the industry’ with innovation, education and creativity. We are committed to Nail Professionals and their success throughout the life of their career. My Dad also inspired creative thinking in everything we do.

In addition to creating some fabulous nail, art you have a very unique personal style. How do you feel your take on fashion affects your nail creativity or vice versa?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to my nails! I love intricate, adorned nail styles and typically invest over three hours in a nail appointment every two to three weeks. My nails are a production and are always very different from one appointment to the next. When it comes to making nail design decisions, I don’t match them to my outfits – I match them to my moods. I think of them as jewelry and look for ways in which my nails can support my personal style instead of mimicking it. 


What’s it like doing nails for major designer shows at New York Fashion Week? I read you provide the nail looks for designers such as Cynthia Rowley, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta and more! Is it a creative process between you and the designers, or do they basically already know what they want and your team makes it happen?
For more than 18 years, CND has set the industry standard in nail artistry on the runways and redefined nails as the ultimate fashion accessory. Our team has a passion and understanding of art in fashion that defines nail artistry on an unparalleled level. Unlike other nail brands, fashion is in CND’s DNA – we continue to commit ourselves to being the leader in nail artistry and the brand synonymous with Fashion Week as part of our professional heritage. Nail artistry is a thoughtful and deliberate medium of art – there is emotion expressed in every design and we partner with designers that allow us to do what we do best. Our Fashion Week partnerships are true collaborations that lead to magic on the runways!

Who was the first major designer fashion show you had the pleasure of doing nails for?
I remember flipping through magazines before our first Fashion Week collaboration, and all of the runway shots were adorned beautifully with gorgeous clothing, makeup, and hair—and the nails were glaringly missing. There were bare nails, paired with these incredible, very elegant looks. We just thought nails could complete the story! We were looking at this new up-and-coming designer by the name of Cynthia Rowley, who was hot on the New York scene. We liked her sense of humor and her sense of style. So, we literally just called her up and said, “We think you’re cool and that we can do something really great for you.” She ended up being the first designer we partnered with on the runway!


Do you have any tips for emerging nail artists who want to pursue the career and make it a professional endeavor?
My admiration for Nail Professionals is my guiding light to everything I do for CND. I never underestimate the amazing talent and personality it takes to be a successful Nail Professional in today’s world. Not only has the nail profession exploded and grown, but the status of the Nail Professional has elevated to an important high. My best advice to Nail Pros is to believe in yourself, stay true to your ambitions and love what you do!!! When you love what you do, you do it with PASSION!

DISCOVER JAN ARNOLD & CND
Website: www.cnd.com

The Finale of "Nail'd It" airs Tuesday, Dec 9th 9PM ET/PT on Oxygen
*Photos provided by Oxygen

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