Next-Gen 2020: Juan Alvear
Every January, Milk.xyz announces the 10 people we believe will have the greatest impact on the art/music/fashion/activism spheres in that year.
With clients like Arca, Lil Nas X, Rosaliá, Kim Petras and Björk (to name a few…) Juan Alvear’s nail art is simply that, art. Making a sculpture on your hands, from classic styles to the totally obscure, Alvear can do it all. Featured by W Magazine in November of 2019, and having his creations on the hands of runway models for Motoguo, the New York-based Cooper Union alum makes everything a canvas. On January 17th, Alvear will exhibit his first solo show in Paris’ Gallery Treize where his paintings will be displayed. The artist has big things in store for 2020.
What’s your 2020 vision? What do you hope to accomplish?
2020 will be a year of growth. — I see it as a year to start focusing on a few new projects. I’ll be having my first painting solo show that’s currently in the works this for this upcoming January. I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities and new experiences come this new year.
Why do you do what you do?
Since a young age, I’ve always been creating and experimenting with new things. I love my nail practice because it pushes boundaries on beauty and combines it with art. Plus it gives me time to myself while making the work and then also has a social aspect where I get to apply the nails to extremely talented people. And that’s super rewarding because it keeps me inspired and motivated in all aspects of my life. I love painting because it’s calming and gives me time to think about my life and remember to breathe.
How did you get into the nails that you do?
I started collecting nail polish when I was in middle school. I figured I would make a painting using all of the colors collected or something along those lines.
While studying At Cooper Union where I studied Fine Arts I focused primarily on painting and sculpture. I brought my box of nail polish to the studio to finally make a painting using them, but what happened instead was I began painting my friend’s nails during studio visits and created a finsta which is the account I primarily use today.
While I began experimenting with nail art, my sculpture practice quickly collided with the nail art practice. To be honest I don’t really separate the nails I make from the “art” I make. They are all an extension of me and the nails function almost like a series in a larger body of work. Without my sculpture and painting background, the nails I make would look drastically different/ probably wouldn’t exist.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Honestly, I can’t say that I prefer certain nails over others because it’s about growing and making more— but one of my favorite/ most memorable experiences as of late was working with Arca on her residency Mutant; Faith at the Shed. It was a transformative series of shows surrounded by a truly amazing team and a good atmosphere.
I got the opportunity to work with Bjork and it was also my first experience actually doing nails on stage in front of an audience. I also had a lot of fun working on nails for Rosalia’s “Aute Cuture” music video, which was the first music video where I produced a ton of nails for and was able to see the BTS of a large production music video.
Dream talent to work within the next year?
My top 5 would have to be: Megan thee Stallion, Rupaul, Amber Wagner, Baddiewinkle, and Madonna.
You are a painter and nail artist how do they influence each other?
I see the nails as extensions of my art practice, I’m drawn to specific shapes, colors and textures. Making a nail is oftentimes just like making a painting. I see a huge relationship formally between my paintings and my nails and they definitely inspire/ inform one another. I see colors and textures and put them together to create something. I see both my nail sculptures and my paintings as ornaments of sorts, one exists to decorate the hand and one for space.
Can you tell us about your show opening in Paris?
The show opens on January 17th at Gallery Treize and it’ll be the first time I exhibit my paintings since having gone to school. I’m excited to show people a new side of me. So keep an eye out for it.
Highlight of your year?
My overarching highlight of the year would have to be the amount of support I have received from close friends and the people around me as well as seeing how I’ve inspired others these past few months.
Can you sum up your year in one word?
DIRECTOR + CINEMATOGRAPHER + EDITOR: Ben Hype
FEATURING: Shelby Sells
WARDROBE STYLIST: Bridget Johnson
NAIL ASSISTANT: Bianca Boutilier
PHOTOGRAPHER: Harshvardhan Shah
Stay tuned to Milk for more from our Next-Gen.