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Topaz Woodruff, owner of Nail Cabaret 

Nail art can go beyond pink polish and French manicures. Don't simply take a trip to the salon to add a touch of color to your stems. Instead, find a nail artist who will enhance your smallest canvas and call attention to your piggies. Such as Topaz Woodruff, owner of Nail Cabaret (5205-A Monroe Road; www.nailcabaret.com). With 26 years in the business, she specializes in custom nail art — graphic looks, SheeKee or Minx Nail coverings and custom designs that can incorporate anything you desire, including a touch of sparkle, your boyfriend's name or your favorite pop icon's face.

Creative Loafing: You've turned painting nails into an art. Where does your aesthetic vision come from and how would you describe your artistic style?

Topaz Woodruff: My vision comes from almost everything — music, fashion, fabrics, energy. I love to go to Michaels and look at curtains to generate ideas; I often try to model the designs that attract me the most and then use a balanced color palette that keeps the nail art poppin' but doesn't make it too muddy. You have to know when to stop when it comes to color. I'm really into the graphic look, as well as beads, sparkles and dice — whatever makes the nails pop and makes a statement that captures both mine and my client's energy.

My style is abstract, right off the top of my head. Whatever I'm blessed with is what comes out. My custom designs arise organically, but I also have a diary that I keep on hand, whenever I think of something I draw it down.

What is the most outrageous nail design, lettering or accessory a customer has ever requested?

I had a woman come in and request Michael Jackson nails, after MJ had passed. I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe I am putting Michael Jackson on this woman's nails." Her nails ended up looking hot though; I integrated the colors from his "Bad" video and incorporated his photo and the year he was born and died.

The other odd request had to be the Maury Povich nails. I think people come in and ask for some of these unique designs so they can get into the Nail Cabaret calendar that I have, which comes out each year with 12 photos of the past year's hottest nails that I've designed.

Besides nail art, are you involved in any other forms of artistic expression?

Yes, I used to do oil paintings, and I also play the piano, hence, the incorporation of cabaret and music into my company name and philosophy. Playing music and painting nails is therapeutic for me. Because music is such an important part of my artistic expression, I like to think of my clients as my music notes; they all come in with a different song.

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