Our first Painted: Inside the Bucket features Breana Johnson, one of our beloved resident nail artists who’s crafted stunning designs at Paintbucket for the past two years. Breana is a multimedia artist and lifelong New Yorker who thrives on creative challenges. Inspired by “the little things” in the world around her, she strives to “spark a conversation” through her artwork. Read on to discover her journey to becoming a nail artist, her designs for our latest collection: Love Has Many Faces, and her exciting next professional steps.
I became interested in art as a kid, but I didn’t really keep up with it until college. I’ve done a few shows here in Brooklyn with @TheArtHubNYC and a couple commission pieces. Lately, I’ve taken a break from visual art and have focused more on nail design and going back to school.
What is your greatest indulgence or pleasure in life?
I feel like it changes. It’s whatever feeds my soul. Some days, I get up and I go on Instagram and see what fashion trends are, so I go to the thrift store and try to recreate certain looks. Other days, I want to cook. It’s phases, so to speak.
Back when Tumblr was more popular, I started seeing UNREAL nail art. There were nails of cartoon characters, intricate line work, etc. I was always on the fence about nail school, but those photos actually gave me the “push” I needed to go to nail school.
What inspires your work?
Whenever I create art, it’s always related to something that’s on my mind or in my heart. I find that I tend to draw Black musicians, activists, poets, etc. I can’t say that my biggest inspiration is one specific person or thing. I find that I am inspired by a lot of different things including equal rights movements, music, colors, textures, prints, and geographical locations. I like creating art that can spark a conversation.
How has your art style developed over time?
I find that I am still learning my art style. One year, it might be one way, and another, the next. However, what I can say is: my confidence has grown over the years regarding both my artwork and nail art.
As cliche as it sounds, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It’s so important —both for the aesthetic of the design and timing. There’s no way to get better unless you are actually practicing nail art. Once you feel like you’ve “mastered” a design, try to find ways to shorten the amount of time it takes to complete it. As a new nail tech, I would ask this question, and the answer was always unanimous: Practice makes perfect!
When I created the first design, I wanted to create faces that were feminine and diverse. I wanted to tie the artist in me with the nail tech in me. For the Love Has Many Faces collection, I used the original nail art I did on myself during quarantine as inspo. Each design in the collection is unique, and made with our clients in mind. Most of the clients at Paintbucket love abstract designs and neutral colors, and I wanted this collection to reflect and appeal to them.
In the next 3-5 years, I hope that I’m still able to express my creativity while doing something I love. I also hope to step out of my comfort zone even more. I would love to make connections and network with others in the industry. I also believe in paying it forward. I would like to teach and do demos to help educate other nail technicians.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
Freedom. As an artist, your options are limitless.