Behind the Image: Honey on Creative Freedom and Setting the Trend

Behind the Image is an ongoing series taking a more personal look at both established and emerging creative talent.

portrait by Ben Hassett, courtesy Honey

Honey, manicurist

Hometown: East Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY
Based: NYC
Representation: Exposure NY (New York)

How would you describe your work? What’s your trademark?
I love to keep it fun and always fresh. I’m constantly thinking of the newest things—-I make my own trends.

How did you get into your chosen career?
Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist. I was attracted to color and painting and decided to pick up nails. It started with me teaching myself how to do nails after finishing the 8th grade, and I just took what I knew from my mom. When I was in high school, I got my first job at a salon where I learned acrylic. I got my license when Mario Cuomo made that a thing back in ‘95.

What other jobs have you had?
I’ve done freelance, worked in the tiniest salons in the East Village, I’ve done a lot and seen a lot!

What have you watched/heard/read lately that has inspired you?
I’m an undercover nerd, you know! I’m on Clubhouse a lot just listening. There’s a lot of great music but also some meaningful stuff. Just recently there was a discussion about Black Wall Street. The Tulsa race massacre happened 100 years ago, and it was interesting to hear people talk about it today. Many people didn’t know this happened, and a lot of stuff similar to this is still happening. It’s not inspiring, but it’s eye-opening. It’s a wake-up call. There’s a lot that still has to change.

What do you love about what you do?
You get to create whatever you want, and you get to have fun. It’s also challenging because you get to be MacGyver. I like a challenge. It’s never the same.

What’s one thing outside of your work that you would like people to know about you?
I am obsessed with Thailand. I love the people, the food, the beaches… I would go every single year but since COVID happened, that changed my flow. My last trip was in 2019. Next time I go, I’m going for a month!!

Who do you think is one to watch?
Hive by Honey! I’m by the Navy Yard in my new studio, which is a very intimate and private space for nail parties. Located on 36 Waverly Ave.

Selected Work

image courtesy Honey

Vogue Italia, September 2008
Photographer: Steven Klein, Model: Daphne Guinness.

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Steven Klein’s photographs are like extreme fever dreams, especially during this era. Daphne’s nails are in this stark white, contrasting the darker, edgier outfits.

image courtesy Honey

WSJ Magazine, March 2018
Photographer: Mario Sorrenti.

How many of y’all can say, “I did Oprah’s nails”? Ha!

image courtesy Honey

Tiffany & Co, Holiday 2020 campaign
Photographer: Craig McDean.

A lot of the comments on Instagram when this campaign was released were, “Where can I get this nail polish? Take my money!” I created this nail color by mixing pigments to get the perfect Tiffany blue.

image courtesy Honey

H&M Magazine, 2013
Photographer: Sebastian Faena.

I don’t get to go on many trips for shoots, but this one took me all the way to Mexico. I loved it! Not only did I get to go to Mexico, but I also was given the creative freedom to come up with so many individual custom nails.

image courtesy Honey

Versace Pre-Fall 2019 runway show in New York

It was such an honor to do the nails for the first-ever Versace show to happen in New York. I’ve worked on runway shows before, but this show had great, fun energy with all the models, the iconic outfits, the celebs that showed up, even that huge golden Statue of Liberty torch!