Q + A With Tattify Artist Kelly Ornstein

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 By Julia


Our collaboration with Kelly has been a longtime coming! We are so excited to share it with you as her work is so unique and full of spunk! Get a glimpse into her world of creativity and adventure with many mediums of art.

You can shop her line of nail wraps here.

1. You create such fabulous accessories, when did your appreciation of accessorizing begin?

Wow, thank you! Probably when I was really little… I’ve always collected crystals and glitters and beads etc. eventually In highs chool I made and sold beaded jewelry and finally decided to pursue jewelry and metalsmithing over illustration at RISD. I’m typically a minimalist when it comes to clothes so accessories usually just earrings and nails are my power center.

2. Where do the contents of your shadowboxes come from?

I have two different types of shadowboxes: cabinet of curiosities and my senior thesis.

My cabinet of curiosities shadowboxes are a mix of naturalia, machine and hand made objects. My dream is to have an amazing nature library so I’m always collecting stones and insects etc, and for the man made objects they were trinkets from my childhood, street finds or just little nick-knacks I’ve bought that I’ve just thought were interesting or peculiar, especially when taken out of their context.

In my thesis shadowboxes, most of the items within each box were hand made and out of clay, such as all of the sharks teeth. They idea of the shadow boxes was that I created  a piece(s) of jewelry and a home specific to that piece that could both exist as its own entity separately while encompassing the theme of its other half as well as be filling a void when together. A place for all my things, and everything with a place… Or something like that.

3. Your work spans across so many mediums, which would you choose to pursue forever if you had to pick one?

That is incredibly difficult… But maybe/Probably enamel (vitreous for metals) Its so incredibly tedious and intensive, and requires a lot of patience and control… Which just makes it really soothing. ….  however in a second response to this question I’d probably “cheat” and just say only sculpture or painting just so I could still use everything I want. 

4. What is your creative process like for your nail art as opposed to the metalwork you do?

For my metal work, I tend to like things a little rougher, a visible touch of being hand made. It’s usually more about texture for me. However like my jewelry, whenever I make something 90% of the time I want it to make me laugh. I like things that are cheeky and strange, transforming the less “palatable” subject matter and making it beautiful. Mostly I just really enjoy having finished something and looking at it and thinking that is so absurd or excessive, Why would anyone want this… Which makes me giggle.
One of the main differences with nails vs jewelry is how I approach the 3D aspect. With nails it’s more about layers and surface design to create depth where in jewelry you have to consider the piece from all angles.

5. Coffee or Tea?

Coffeeeeeee is my life blood. Whenever I make tea, although k enjoy it, I always forget to drink it when it’s still hot.

6. What is the first thing you notice about someone when meeting them?

What they are wearing and whether or not they are smiling. 

7. You work so much with your hands, typically, how do your own nails look?

Fabulous! They do get more damaged because I use my hands a lot and I’m not at all gentle with them so with that and also my constant need for design change I tend to them weekly.

8. How do you create the beaded patches on your website? They are so adorable!

Thank you! I just decided one day to teach myself bead embroidery. I  stretch scrap fabric usually on a makeshift canvas stretcher draw the idea out and just go crazy! Again This is where my weirdness comes out… I’m currently working on a large back piece That could not be more random; which does or will include the nanny, a bloody bandaid and a tiger shopworn for lasers from its eyes cool, I know. 


9. Your nail wraps rule and are very painterly, tell us about the inspiration for some of the pieces.

 Thank you so much! Nature is my number one source of inspiration, i just love the natural world and science.. And use animals and natural patterns frequently in my work I.e. My gemstone “getstoned” series. I’m also very involved with my inner child so typically other themes include Halloween, cartoons and lots of color. 

10. What is one of your fondest memories growing up??

Getting super excited about Halloween and at least a month in advance making the crafts and costumes etc then going bananas with the decorations. 

11.  If you had to be a flower, which would you be?


12. What are tips you could give our customers about doing their own DIY nail art? 

1) Practice practice practice and practice 2) you don’t need to invest in fancy brushes right away (if ever) 3) do invest in really high quality cuticle pushers and  nippers, it makes a worlds difference. 

13. What tool entered your work like an epiphany and changed the game for you?

 Gel. It’s magical. Just everything about it… I’m addicted. 

14. Which celebrity do you most want to work with? Either accessorizing or doing their nails… 

Jennifer Lawrence or Amy Schumer or both. They seem fun and hilarious and like they don’t take themselves too seriously. 

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