Graphic Design Professor Launches Nationwide Nail Project

Breanne Trammell, artist and design professor at Ramapo College, will be launching her "Nails Across America" project during the summer of 2013. 

"Nails Across America" will give 500 manicures during a trip across the country in a mobile nail salon, formerly a canned ham trailer. After visiting the mobile salon and receiving a manicure, participants will leave with their own letter pressed certification of authenticity and edition number.

The trip should last about 12 weeks. Throughout the trip, Trammell will be staying in both the trailer and with friends and family. Trammell also considers the possibility of staying with people she meets along the way who do not mind hosting her.

"Friends will tag along on various legs of the trip, and my dog Tiny Tim Riggins will be with traveling with me as well. Dog is my co-pilot," Trammell said.

Trammell describes her cross-country road trip like that of a touring band. She plans to stop at various attractions along the way, including alternative art galleries, community centers and farm stores.

"Nails in the Key of Life seeks to connect to a broad audience through the act of performing manicures. This experiential art project is more than simply nail art," Trammell wrote on her website. "I aim to create an intimate platform to exchange ideas and conversation."

A fellow Ramapo professor, Bonnie Blake, said Trammell's concept is brilliant. She added that there are so many layers of art involved in this one project, including not only nail art, but the art of conversation and experiences with all different people and demographics.

"She is a very nice, gentle person and is always full of great ideas and her students agree with that too," Blake said.  brings a lot of enthusiasm and creativity into her classroom just as she does with her own creative projects."

Trammell's manicures will not be an ordinary salon manicure.

"The curated menu of nail polish colors and enhancements will reference recurring themes in art such as popular culture, junk food, and art history: glittery blue acrylic nails pay homage to the television program, "Friday Night Lights," manicure flavors will include  Orange" and "International Klein Blue," Trammell continued on her website.

In order to break gender barriers, Trammel is also offering the ," a male-specific service with a subtle matte top coat and includes an extended arm and hand massage.

For those who want something extra special, they can choose from a number of custom hand-painted nail art, such as donut sprinkles, sunset nails and pretzel patterns.

Trammell's idea for the project came to her while getting a manicure on a trip to Seattle last fall.

"I was at a nail salon and unable to have a conversation with my manicurist due to a language barrier," she began. "It didn't go beyond the basics of 'hi' and 'how are you' and while I was sitting there I thought 'what if I could do this?… I could do this!'" Trammell said.

The artist stresses that her adventure is not a business, but rather a community-focused art project in which she intends to collect oral histories.

In June, Trammell graduated from a 16-week nail program at TW Nail Technology Career School in Fishkill, N.Y. She holds a certificate in nail specialty and a temporary six-month New York nail technician license. She is waiting to take the state practical examination.

In order to promote the project, connect with others and finance the trailer set-up and repairs, Trammell created a profile on "Kickstarter," an online portal where individuals can promote projects and solicit donations, in which she set a fundraising goal of $4,000. By July 16, her goal had been reached.

The page has since raised $5,035 with the help of 92 backers, many of whom do not know Trammell personally.

"It was, and still is, an incredible feeling to see folks responding to and believing in me and my idea with such positivity," Trammel said.

Bowie Barnett-Zunino, founder and co-director of the "Wassaic Project," where Trammell became a master printer, first met Trammell in graduate school and has collaborated with her on a number of efforts.

Barnett-Zunino describes her former peer as one of the most generous and talented people that she knows.

"I think [Nails Across America] will be a great project and a great adventure for Breanne. I expect that there will be a component of the project, whether it be in the documentation or the act of giving manicures, that will evolve organically out of the adventure," Barnett-Zunino said.