Sophomore Emily Grygar has made a name for herself on campus through her talent for painting intricate designs on tiny canvases, that is, her nails.

Grygar started learning to do nail art when she was 12. Even while going to a middle school with a dress code that included natural-colored nails, she spent her weekends trying new designs, only to enjoy them for two days.

She got more serious in high school when she was able to wear her talent every day.

"I would change them every week and then my little ego kicked in when people would notice," Grygar said. "Then I wanted to make sure I was getting new things out every week because it felt like people knew me for it."

Grygar shares her talent for free, offering her services to any of her friends who ask. Although her friends don't ask for designs that she would usually do on herself, she said that the 70's inspired spirals, ombres, flowers and whatever is trending on Pinterest are still fun to do as nail art. 

However, Grygar's favorite designs to do are patterning, picking five or six different shapes and putting them together into a cohesive design. Although she said it might take three to four hours to execute, she enjoys taking the time.

When mapping out the look of a pattern, her process starts with inspiration. To find ideas, Grygar said she goes to Pinterest or Google.

By looking at what other people have designed, Grygar begins to piece together a unique concept. Then she will draw out her vision on paper to see if it looks good together before she starts.

Some patterns Grygar has done in the past include tiny avocados, holly leaves and sunflowers. Her process also involves three to four coats of base coat that she swears by for a perfect result.

Although Grygar has naturally thick and long nails, she still does a few things to take care of them, including cuticle care and buffing. But her most marked preference is her nail polishes.

Her favorite brand and most of her collection are Zoya polishes. This brand's claim-to-fame is that it doesn't have the ten most damaging chemicals many other polishes have, and Grygar said that since she paints her nails so often, she likes to know she's taking care of them.

"Emily's nails are always incredible," said Grace Colburn, a sophomore who used to live in the same residence hall as Grygar. "I stop to look at them whenever I see her."

Although she has a talent for painting nails, Grygar doesn't plan on making it her future profession. For her, painting her nails is a therapeutic activity.

"It's almost like a peace of mind thing," Grygar said. "When my nails look nice, I just feel like my life is together."

Especially during quarantine, for Grygar, painting her nails was a good way to keep herself sane.

"I'm a business major," Grygar said. "I'm more interested in that kind of stuff, but I think we'll always be like a fun side hobby that I do."

Although Grygar doesn't have an Instagram yet, she's gearing up to start one soon. She is also currently working as a social media manager for a couple of companies, so she understands what makes a successful social media account. But when she does, she has folders of excellent content at the ready.

Abby Bettridge is a contributor. 

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