The winner of this year’s dragon nail art mural contest, nail artist Robert Nguyen lent his 3-D nail artistry to this month’s Lunar New Year-themed VietSALON cover to help us welcome the Year of the Dragon.

“Growing up, Tết (the Lunar New Year) was big for us,” Nguyen says. “Who doesn't like little red envelopes full of money? Now that we are grown up we give red envelopes to the kids and the whole family spends time together. It's one of those holidays where I get to see all of my family.”

Nguyen takes an unorthodox approach to the art of nails. Before receiving his nail license six years ago, he had already secured a spot on NAILS Magazine’s Top25 Competitors list, competing while he was still in nail school. Since then, Nguyen has competed in nail competitions around the world, winning several nail art awards. Together with his older brother, Vu Nguyen, who is also a talented nail artist, they have created a series of step-by-step nail art books, 1-2-3 Nail Art, that feature many of their amazing designs. For more information and to purchase any of their four books, visit

Known as “Bert the nail guy” at Salon de l'art Nouveau in Bonsall, Calif., Nguyen has a close relationship with his clients, with whom he considers friends. In his spare time, he travels as an International Guest Artist for OPI. “When I'm traveling, it's rewarding to me when someone is willing to take ten minutes or a day to sit down with me to learn something new. It feels good to share your knowledge with those wanting to learn,” Nguyen says.

Nguyen is inspired by other artists and finds inspiration in art within other industries and mediums. “There are so many great nail artists out there that you’re never done learning what the industry has to offer,” he says. “And once you think outside of the box and see what kind of art other industries are doing (like the car industry, in sculptures and canvases to name a few), there are no boundaries to nail art.”

For our cover, Nguyen added a gel overlay to his extreme stilettos and sculpted the dragon’s body and waves with OPI Absolute Crystal Clear acrylic powder.

You can view step-by-step photos of Robert's 3-D dragon stilettos by clicking here.

Here's a photo of Robert and I after the photo shoot. After over two years of blogging, I finally remembered to take a photo for the blog!

— Kim