9 Creative Nail Art Designs For Short Nails

No need for stiletto tips.

There are plenty of cute nail art for short nail designs — here's proof.
Getty Images/ Anna Efetova

It’s a common misconception that you need to have super-long nails in order to get cool designs on your manicure (you know, since you have a bigger canvas to work with). This is false: You’ve got plenty of options even if your tips are short and sweet. If you’ve been looking for nail art for short nails, you’re in the right place.

According to Molly Romah, lead nail technician at Chillhouse, short nails have no shortage of mani designs to play around with. The crux of nailing a look is picking art that pops on a smaller canvas: This means designs that are reliant on negative space, line art, and clear bases, says Romah. “These creative manicure designs look amazing on all lengths, especially shorter nails,” she tells Bustle.

Although short nail lengths may find it easier to stick with these simple kinds of art, a busy and maximalist mani filled with flames and butterflies is still possible. Whether you’re doing your own nails or seeing a professional, it simply requires adjusting the proportions — no biggie.

If you need inspo for your next manicure, the below looks include designs that elongate your fingers, one that accentuates your tips, and others that are purely joyous, regardless of nail length. Keep scrolling for nine ways to rock nail art on short nails.


‘70s Wallpaper

Interior decor in the 1970s was about gradient shades of red, yellow, and orange. This wavy striped manicure — a stick-on set from brand Manime — looks like it was plucked off the wallpaper of a retro home. Bonus points for being super easy to DIY.


Summer Picnic

Pick your favorite summer fruits and use them as the focal point of your manicure. This look shows that even when the canvas of your nails is itty bitty, you can still create intricate works of art.


Sun Fun

Channel the energy of summer with short nails and a simple but bright design. This design from Chillhouse looks like sunscreen sprawled on the back of lounging sunbathers.


Pink And Red Hodgepodge

Experimenting with maximalism can be daunting, but paring it down to two colors makes the trend way more accessible. To accommodate your small canvas, take inspiration from this manicure and focus on negative space art with a pop.


Minty French Nails

The French manicure 2.0 has become one of the most prevalent looks of the moment. The good news? It’s perfect for shorter nails since it only requires a thin sliver of paint on the edges. This minty fresh look is taken up a notch with delicate black dots.


Mix-N-Match Maximalism

When you can’t decide between all your favorite nail art looks, remember that you have 10 fingers — so why not do them all? When your nails are short, just adjust the scope respectively.


Sleek Lines

With minimal real estate, play around with accents. This manicure dresses up bare nails with black accents in the form of lines, dots, and shapes.


Memphis Design Nails

Memphis design was an interior decor, furniture, and design movement in the ‘80s. The aesthetic was about bright colors, pattern combinations, and unusual shapes, and this manicure manages to channel all of that in one short and sweet set of nails.


Floral Bouquet

Daisy nails are sprouting up all over the place — just look at Hailey Bieber. This set proves the fun design works on short nails. Pro tip: Paint one flower as each nail’s centerpiece.