Street artist Decoy seems like she’d be as tough as nails, but hers were once quite brittle. The artist — you’ve probably seen her wheatpastes around town — used to have a nail biting problem, and when she finally overcame it earlier this year, she threw herself deep into the dazzling and bedazzling world of nail art.


D's Nails by Decoy (Decoy/Courtesy of the Fridge)

Decoy, whose real name is Alicia Cosnahan, kicked her bad habit through Trind, a Keratin treatment. Once her nails started to get long and healthy, she says she became obsessed with nail polish and 3-D embellishments, like a tiny butterfly charm she once saw on a stranger in the New York subway. “It looked like it had just landed on her thumb,” she said.


D's Nails by Decoy (Decoy/Courtesy of the Fridge)

But you won’t find French tips at this salon. Decoy’s manicures aren’t as girly — she’s even had a few male customers. Aside from the D.C.-themed sets, she’ll do lettering on her customers’ hands inspired by knuckle tattoos (a subject of one of her previous shows at the Fridge). For one male guest, she says, she painted “Love Hope,”a tribute to his newborn daughter. Through the smell of chemicals and lacquer, she’s realized that painting a person’s nails is a deeply personal act.

“You’re face to face, you’re touching their hands,” she said. “It’s something nice that you can share, and sit intimately and talk to someone.”