Celebrity Nail Artist Gina Oh Talks Working With Nicki Minaj & Her Favorite Current Trends

Nicki Minaj attends the TIDAL's Second Annual Philanthropic Festival at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Oct. 15, 2016 in New York City.
Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Nicki Minaj attends the TIDAL's Second Annual Philanthropic Festival at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Oct. 15, 2016 in New York City. 

Japanese-style nail artist Gina Oh is no stranger to the red carpet, having had her work modeled by the likes of Nicki Minaj, Serena Williams, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Justine Skye and more.

Billboard was able to catch up with Oh to talk about how she got started, what it's like working with her extensive roster of A-listers, and where she thinks nail trends are headed.


@nickiminaj nails by ME for @tidal #tidal1015 charity concert!!! ----------#ohriginails

A post shared by Gina Aka "The Hand" (@ohriginails) on

How did you get started?

I’ve always worked in the beauty industry -- I did sales for a while, but after I got my cosmetology license, I started doing nails and haven’t done anything else since. I’ve been doing Japanese nail art for the past four years, but when I started, we only did nail art with polish [instead of gel, which is what I use now]; I tried to think as far outside the box as possible, which [was limited] with polish.

What is your trademark style?

I’m known for complex but cohesive nail art. I really like to work in abstract art, maybe with some art deco lines and lots of embellishments.

Who’s your nail icon?

Rihanna. I’m obsessed with her. No matter what she does, her nails are always perfect. They’re always a great shape, a perfect length, and even though she doesn’t really do too many designs, her nails just always look fresh and clean. She also plays around with shape a lot, which I really admire.

What is it like working with Nicki Minaj?

At first, it was honestly really nerve-racking, because there’s a lot of pressure. She’s really quiet; it was just straight business with her. I had to do the best job possible in a very short amount of time since her and her team are on such a strict schedule, plus I was working on top of someone else’s work.

I’ve done a few styles with her: The first time I worked with her, she went short and red -- which she rocked for awhile -- and after that, I remember doing a full set [of acrylics] on her, nude base with black lines and gold embellishments. The black and gold was actually inspired by a freestyle I did on another client, and after seeing the picture, she knew what she wanted when she came in.


Checkmate----(Made with @shopncla #gelous? #losangelesimyours + #prestoam02 )

A post shared by Gina Aka "The Hand" (@ohriginails) on

What are some current nail trends you’re loving?

I like all the abstract art that’s trendy right now and anything that’s kind of weird, like the splatter-paint technique. I love mixing colors -- I absolutely love colorful nails. I’m also liking the holographic nails that are becoming popular. Anything that’s fun and unique.

What do you think the next big nail trend is?

We’ve gone through a number of trends within the past year or so: We had the cute anime and cartoon-y nails for a little bit, then moved to the minimalistic nails, and now people are starting to get a little more adventurous. Next, I think encapsulated nails are going to become popular. Encapsulated means that instead of putting the nail art on top of the gel or acrylic, the designs can be either underneath or in between layers of the hard gel (acrylic). It’s a technique that brings the LED technology into the art of doing nails.