Meghan Lorenz of Cities in Dust + Ashley Crowe of AstrowifeyPepperoni and pizza. Leather and fur. Bey and Jay. Some pairings are obviously #blessed. Our first LE collaboration was another no-brainer: Meghan Lorenz of Cities in Dust and Ashley Crowe, the-artist-otherwise-known-as Astrowifey.
The challenge: Design a piece of jewelry reflective of both artists’ styles. The outcome: A unique, adjustable bronze ring that accents the nail.* The design process began with a brainstorming session in Meghan’s studio. A Pinterest board and a few prototypes later, the ladies landed on a look that’s practical, functional, and doesn’t discriminate based on nail bed size.
We recently got the girls together to talk nail trends, their evolution as artists, and Gaga’s recent-ish engagement, while we did what we do best—sat back and watched the magic happen.
*You can wear it like a regular ring or flip it upside down as a midi.
ML: What sparked your love for nail art?
AC: I was that girl in high school with the long acrylic nails. And even though nail art had surged in the ’80s and ’90s, it wasn’t as popular at the time. I’d go to Latino salons and see flags and airbrushing, and at Vietnamese-style salons, I’d see bright colors contrasting with curved lines and dot work. But I didn’t consider it to be art. At the time, I’d never stepped foot in an art museum. I took a class in painting at After School Matters and I immediately felt like “I got this.” It was was my thing and I haven’t stopped since. I began replicating the paintings I had learned about in class on my nails, which I haven’t seen done before. The timing was perfect because I got into this world before it was really saturated. People were doing nail art in London and Japan, but not really here. I started taking clients at age 18, doing nails for people on my computer desk. Then I turned my front room into a nail salon and at 20, I left my full time job to pursue this full time.
AC: Can you draw the first piece you have ever designed?
ML: So the first piece I made was at Lillestreet. It was a copper and brass necklace, and I made it before I knew how to solder. My mom actually still has it, but when she wears it I'm like “Take it off; its so ugly!”
ML: What do you think will be the next trend in nail art?
AC: Finishes have become a new trend in nail art: matte, cashmere—which is not quite exactly matte, but it’s not shiny at all…plus different iridescents and holographics. In Japan, they have these micro LED nail stickers with flashing lights. As far as shapes, I think the soft oval/almond shape is here to stay, and I think natural nails will stay as a trend.
ML: It’s so crazy how there are so many subcultures in the nail art world! It’s almost like how in fashion, there are so many different looks and levels.
AC: Yeah. There’s fantasy nail art, which is sculptural, and then you have editorial, which is wearable, trendy, and hits the masses a little more. Then there are people who like to do art history on their nails. I love that my clients range in style: female rap artists to celebrities to lawyers to teachers. Even if I don’t love a certain style or genre, I can totally respect and understand it. I learn a lot from my clients, and they teach me about so many things. That’s my favorite thing about my job.
AC: What challenges do you face as a jewelry designer today?
ML: Changing my style without losing what I have already built has been really hard for me lately. It’s all about deciding the direction I want to go in, making sure I like my jewelry before I put it out there. I want to be able to want to wear every single piece I make.
AC: I think a lot of artists struggle with that. When you want to evolve but your fan base is the same. But if you stay the same, people get bored.
ML: It’s about staying true to yourself without compromising creative integrity. I just want everything in my life to be cohesive. My house, my studio, all my jewelry, my clothes—I want everything to look like me. I started making these bigger statement pieces and now I am thinking of making a more functional collection or having a balance of both.
ML: You’ve been lucky enough to work with Gaga. What do you admire most about her as a women and an artist?
AC: She is a true artist. She’s theatrical and her outfits definitely express that. And she’s has always allowed me to be 100 percent creative. It’s hard to find people—especially very famous celebrities—that let you have that full creative control. I also respect that she is a really honest person. We all have waves of insecurities and confidence issues, and she still has days where she feels just like everyone else.
ML: How would you do her nails to highlight her engagement ring?
I would do something really classic with nude colors, but with some darkness to it. She’s a sweetheart but her style is a little bit edgy with a touch of raunch. So I would keep the base of the nail pale pink or nude, then add some really sharp black tips.
ML: Who else’s nails do you dream of doing?
AC: I think I would lose my shit if like Beyonce, Blue and Jay Z walked in. But I would also love to do FKA Twigs nails because I think she is an amazing artist and is really in control of her aesthetic and style. I feel like all that is authentically her. She also a fan of nail art.