We report a versatile water-based method for transferring nanostructures onto surfaces of various shapes and compositions. The transfer occurs through the intercalation of a layer of water between a hydrophilic substrate and a hydrophobic nanostructure (for example, graphene flakes, carbon nanotubes, metallic nanostructures, quantum dots, etc.) locked within a hydrophobic polymer thin film. As a result, the film entrapping the nanostructure is lifted off and floats at the air-water interface. The nanostructure can subsequently be deposited onto a target substrate by the removal of the water and the dissolution of the polymeric film. We show examples where graphene flakes and patterned metallic nanostructures are precisely transferred onto a specific location on a variety of patterned substrates, even on top of curved objects such as microspheres. The method is simple to use, fast, and does not require advanced equipment.