When started your passion for piercing?The very first time I saw a piercing performed, it was like lightning struck me. I was watching my girlfriend get her tragus performed. I walked in really knowing so little about it, just that you couldn't get it done with an ear piercing gun. But the whole thing was so strange to me: there was so much cleaning, and so many pairs of gloves! I knew right then I had to learn how to do it. Honestly I didn't think I'd become a professional piercer, I simply needed to know how it was done.
How did you become one, and who was your teacher
I started apprenticing under a friend of mine who had just finished the Gauntlet class in New York City. She was far too green to actually train me to pierce, and we both knew it. That was a fun experience but ended quickly. Then I ended up training under the piercers who worked at the shop I first got pierced at. But the people I should really credit with getting me where I needed to be were the folks at the Fakir Intensives. I cannot emphasize how big of an impact they had on me. The class was literally life changing. Even if I hadn't become a piercer, I'd still be happy I did that class.
Starting your own shops Rockstar:
Rockstar was a spectacular experience for me. I started the first one in 2002, and the second in 2013, and sold them in 2015. The first shop was a much needed upgrade from the shop I had initially pierced in. We had appropriate facilities to actually pierce in, but also to reprocess instruments and showcase jewelry. We also developed an incredible staff of desk people who developed a keen eye for jewelry. When I opened the second shop, I wanted to do the things the first Rockstar did well, but even better. I was heavily influenced by Cody Vaughn's "curated" jewelry selection. He's made his shop so intelligently that you cannot help but leave looking good. I tried to emulate that. I also wanted to attempt a 100% disposable facility. I didn't know a lot about how that would go, but within 2 months I had fallen in love. Now I teach disposable piercing classes! I sold the shops to my good friend (and former apprentice) Peter Jett. I'm pleased to say he has only made them better. Going back to Providence and getting to pierce there is a real delight.
Once again, this story involves Cody Vaughn. I had never joined the APP even though I had written the answers to the questionnaire as far back as the late 90's (I just recently found the paperwork!). Cody convinced me to join, but told me to get involved immediately. This was truly eye opening. I realized that the APP is built on volunteerism. And it may be cliche, but the more you put in, the more you get out.
It's been a joy to participate in sharing ideas and improving piercing.
Being instructor at Fakir and teaching :
Because the Fakir Intensives experience was so important to me, I quickly found myself doing anything I could to participate more. I took every class Fakir offered. I started flying cross-country just to visit. Eventually, Ken Coyote, the course administrator, asked me to start teaching. I am thrilled with the classes we offer and the quality of education we consistently deliver.
Lecture for the APP:
It wasn't very long ago that I got my first offer to teach at APP conference! I was overjoyed. The APP has allowed me to teach a variety of different classes, and work with amazing instructors. I am looking forward to what we have in store for Conference 2017!
Why did you sell the shop?
Selling Rockstar was a difficult decision, but I had decided that my family would be better off living near my in-laws. I couldn't be happier with the decision or my life in Michigan.
Starting your blog:
I started my blog for the same reason anyone starts a blog. I wanted to share something I was passionate about. It has slowly but surely turned into something far more than that. I am really happy to regularly discuss technique and theory. It's been a rewarding experience, and one I plan on continuing for years to come.
Do you do more than just piercing?
Piercing is my first love, but I am also interested in a variety of different things. Craft beer is a keen interest of mine. Last year, I began working at the very first sour brewery in North America. I had to leave, as piercing work was my chief priority, but I still help out at their pub in Michigan.
A daddy’s life and traveling?
Traveling has been a learning experience. I have a blog entry I've been working on for some time about the ins and outs of being a guest piercer. Being a dad has been transcendental. My wife and my son are the most amazing people in the world to me. I couldn't be happier.
What has been the high point of your career so far? What are you most proud of
Probably the high point has been receiving the President's Award from Brian Skellie. Brian is one of my biggest influences as a piercer. Receiving a pat on the back from him would mean a lot to me. To receive an honor from the APP and him? It was amazing. I am most proud of my work with the Fakir Intensives, specifically the work we put into the Comprehensive Piercing Intensive. We knew when we put that class together that we would be teaching experienced piercers, and we needed to deliver something really special, but also relevant. I believe we were successful.
How does it feel to be president? What would you like to see change ?
Being President is a big responsibility. I don't feel burdened by it, though. I feel like I have a unique opportunity to make piercing safer and our organization better. There are several new things in the works, most of which I don't want to unveil until they are ready. But the mission is the same: safe piercing through education.
What is your personal goal?
I really just want to pierce people as safely as possible, make them happy, and give them wonderful experiences.
How do you see the future? Are there plans?
I have so many plans they seem overwhelming right now. I have a new shop in the works, as well as a bunch of different projects. I wish I could elaborate more but right now everything is in it's infancy!
Do you have any advice for our readers, or do you want to add something
I think the best advice I can give is try your best, think critically, and have some fun doing it.
President of the Association of Professional Piercers
Instructor for the Fakir Intensives
APP Business Member At Large
-Answers and photo's : Jef Saunders
-Published Tattoo Planet eMagazine 116/December 2016
|Jef & Angie, APP16 Las Vegas|
|Jef & Angie, APP16 Las Vegas|