Tom Holcomb, one of the nail industry’s greatest nail artists, passed away last week. He was 44. The cause of death is not currently known.
It is without hyperbole to say that Holcomb was an industry legend. Beginning his career in the mid-1980s, Holcomb gained a reputation as a superior nail artist: His pink-and-whites won competitions the world over, and he introduced techniques that became standard, including a sculpted moon that he was first to do in 1989. When most nail technicians were still doing stark pink-and-white acrylics, he experimented with colored monomers and created a “natural” pink-and-white that was barely discernible from a natural nail.
Holcomb has been associated with a variety of manufacturers in his career, including Premium Nail Products (which was originally named Holcomb Nail Products), Galaxy Nail Products, EZ Flow, and Entity (which was started with the creative energy of Holcomb and fellow nail technician Tom Bachik).
Holcomb has inspired a generation of nail technicians with his cutting-edge creativity. The winner of more than 200 competitions, Holcomb has always sought to sharpen his skills and raise the bar industry-wide. In 1989, he introduced sculpted moons to competitions; in 1997, his sculpted, colored design nails dazzled all who saw them. He traveled extensively, especially in Japan, where his classes attracted hundreds and whose signature look was emulated by a generation of Japanese nailists.
Holcomb was a Top 25 Competitor seven times (2007–2008, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995). He was the NAILS cover artist numerous times (look at his work on the links below). He also won the North American Hairstyling Award in 1998 for Best Nail Makeover.
From Nails magazine, Oct. 29, 2011.