Across the country, social distancing and the widespread closure of all but essential businesses means that manicures are, for the moment, a DIY affair. But for Mei Kawajiri, that just means more time to get creative. The editorial nail artist has been gracing Instagram with a series of characteristically avant-garde polish jobs inspired by the state of the world, and the results are at once artistically inspiring and a lighthearted—though poignant—diversion.

“So many people are looking for content, and I was looking for an outlet,” says Kawajiri of the instantly iconic nail art, which began with a recreation of the Purell hand sanitizer label, portioned and recreated across each extended nail. Next came a set of pale purple nails applied atop lavender latex gloves—“I made it cool and chic with varied tones of purple, so it’s like the effect of a nude nail”—and the re-post of a 3D bubble design that Mei Kawajiri dreamed up for a past Halloween costume. For Vogue, Kawajiri created a painted collection of masked emoji smileys (“I only used the funny and happy ones!”) primed for an at-home attempt.

“It’s helping me cope, and a lot of people message me saying this is exactly what they need content-wise,” says Mei Kawajiri. “People are just looking to Instagram to find something interesting and creative and unique.” Watching the artist herself create well-protected faces may make you smile, too.

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