Nails of New York: Carly Ayres
Nails of New York: Carly Ayres
This week's Nails of New York features one of those fascinating and bold creatives, Carly Ayers. Read more to learn about the her color philosophy when it comes to nail polish, the way she carves out time to inspire her creativity (as well as to treat herself with manicures), and how the best part of her work are projects where she can can get an audience to think about things a bit differently.

Our latest Nails of New York spotlights long-time Paintbox client, Carly Ayres. Carly considers herself a specialized generalist or generalized specialist and has done remarkable work throughout the creative community in NYC–including FigureNY, and most recently working for Google's Creative Lab before starting her own practice generally specializing in words, design, and the Internet. 

Carly's long-time obsession with nail polish influences her color philosophy of bright colors and high-contrast combinations when customizing our Paintbox designs, as well as an even deeper-rooted appreciated for carving out time to treat herself–in this case by way of a Paintbox manicure. Her most recent signature shade of cobalt blue continues to be the perfect palette to curate really standout Instagram-worthy occasions. Read more to learn about how Carly's manicures play a role in her daily life and to learn more about the ripple she's making in New York City. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

Do you have a go-to nail color palette?

I have a tendency to err on the side of excess. While some might say 'less is more,' I say 'more is more.' More colors. More options. More confetti. More fun. So, when it comes to my nails, I tend to apply that philosophy there, as well. I typically opt for bright colors and high-contrast combinations, ofter paired with Gelish Mali-Blu Me Away

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

When did getting manicures become important to you? 

I've always had a minor obsession with nail polish, but as I've gotten older, I've also come to really value the time dedicated toward doing something for yourself. Setting aside time to treat myself to a manicure has become a bit of a ritual, something where I carve out that time for myself. The complimentary glass of wine doesn't hurt, either. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

Can you tell us a little bit about your background in brand strategy and product design? 

I typically describe myself as a specialized generalist or generalized specialist. My background is a mix of design–I studied Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, but also dabbled in graphic design, printmaking, and furniture making. 

After RISD, I joined CreativeMornings and worked there for a few years before a stint at a branding agency, some time in Google's Creative Lab, and now have my own practice generally specializing in words, design, and the Internet. 

Mostly, I found that I really liked talking to people, digging into the research side of things, and finding interesting ways of telling those stories. The end result might be a flipbook of a logo's evolution, a newsletter on doing things again and again, or an experimental storefront–but I'm always trying to rethink how to engage with an audience and encourage them to think about things a little differently. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

What is your favorite part about being a creative? 

I'm constantly reminding myself the amount of privilege I have to be able to do what I enjoy and get paid to do it. Everything after that is gravy. I love collaborating with good people and making good work. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

What inspires you? 

Somewhere between getting manicures and managing a studio practice, I try to leave some wiggle room to get inspired, too. Saturdays are sacred and are usually spent looking at art in Chelsea. I also run a site and newsletter with a few friends, Jake and Jacob, called unti-tled, where we feature shows to see in New York right now. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

How do your nails influence your projects? 

While I can't say that my nails have been hugely impactful for any of my projects, I will say that I've often turned to some of my past projects or my Instagram feed for color palette inspiration for my nails. Depending on how garish the color combination, they tend to make quite an impression in client meetings, too. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

What has been both the most challenging & most rewarding part of your business? 

For me, the best part of my work are projects where I can get an audience to think about things a bit differently or engage with the work in a different way. At Google, that was a lot of rethinking how users interface with technology and pushing the boundaries of that. Now that I have my own practice, I get to do that for a range of clients of varying sizes and needs. 

The best projects are when clients come to me because they've seen some of my past work or through word of mouth and don't know exactly what they want, but we can work together to make something weird and wonderful. 

Nails of New York: Carly Ayres

What does a day-in-the-life look like for you?

Pure chaos. But sometimes, I look down at my hands and see perfectly-manicured fingernails and know that everything is going to be okay.