Story behind a known piercer/bodymod artist
When started your passion for piercing?
When started your passion for piercing?
My grandfather had a collection of National Geographic magazines, and I was always in awe of how beautiful the body art and modifications were in the various cultures they showed. I loved it so much that I began to pierce myself at the age of 10.
How did you become one? and who was your teacher?
I was initially self taught. I found a copy of PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly magazine) in a funky head shop, and it had a "how to" article for a guiche piercing. I used what they said in the article to pierce anything anyone would let me do. Through trial and error I got somewhat of a handle on things.
Once I moved away to study at university in 1995, I got a job at a shop (Perforations in Washington DC, which has been closed since 1999) as a counter person (they didn't feel that I had enough knowledge yet to pierce, even though I had been piercing several years at that point). Within 2-3 months they took me on as an apprentice. My mentors there were Andrew Lewis and Onabe Tashi, both of which have retired from piercing at this point. After apprenticing for 6 months, I was piercing full time un-observed.
After you moved to Philly and started working at Infinite body piercing how did you end up as teacher for the APP?
I actually didn't begin teaching for the APP until 2003 or so, after I had moved to NoKaOi Tiki Tattoo and Piercing. I had loved going to conference and learning. They were introducing the first surface piercing technique class, and asked me to be part of the teaching panel, along with Phish Goldblatt and Jim Sens. I enjoyed it so much, and apparently did a good job, so I was kept on as a teacher, and still teach every year. I have also taught for the APTPI in Italy, BMXnet in Germany, and LBPac in Mexico.
At this point I'm also doing my own educational seminars. I'll be doing 3-4 seminars this year, and hope to expand to more in 2017. That will be aside from teaching at BMXnet and for the UKAPP later this year.
Why is your teaching different then others?
I have a relaxed approach. I make jokes, curse, speak my mind, encourage attendee commentary and questions. I want people to not just learn, but enjoy my classes, and have fun. I also speak directly from my mind, not from a pre written speech. I find it more natural, and less stuffy.
What are your specialties? why you love it?
Surface piercing is one. I have always loved surface piercing, and developed an affinity for it. I still teach it all these years later, because too many piercers still think that surface piercings are not viable, when they totally can be when done properly, with the right jewelry (surface bars).
Ear projects are the other thing I'm known for. I have always loved intricate ear piercings, and have been doing them for 18 years now. It's challenging, and very satisfying when you design a one of a kind project for someone that will only work for them, that can't be copied.
Can you tell something about Earmageddon 2012?
It was interesting, that's for sure. There was some tough competition, but at the same time, it was eye opening in other ways. It actually made me develop a class for complex ear piercings, because some of the stuff I saw submitted perplexed me.
You have amazing entries from piercers like Rob Hill, whose projects always have nice design aspects and jewelry combos. And entries from Cale Belford, whose projects are highly technical, difficult to execute, yet executed with insane precision. I seriously printed out one of her entries and measured all the distancing. Everything was perfect, down to the millimeter.
Then there were other entries with clear irritations on the piercings and obvious execution issues. There were entries of clearly healing piercings with jewelry that would be very difficult to deal with in the day to day life of the client. These are all important aspects for ear projects, in my opinion. Piercers are only human, of course, but with some of those entries, I was mystified that someone not only let a client walk out with such clear mistakes, but looked at it and thought it was competition worthy. It actually made me kind of sad. How good can a project or piercing actually be if it looks great for the first month, then becomes a constant problem for the client, or an irritated mess, because the jewelry sticks out in certain ways, or the jewelry digs into another part of the ear? This is an issue I see with the industry in general, not just competitions.
Some will for sure take issue what I've just said, but I've always been blunt and spoken my mind. I don't walk on eggshells.
What is your goal?
My goal is to keep piercing for as long as I can, and continue to teach. Eventually as I age, I know I won't be able to keep piercing, so then I'll transfer over to piercing education. I for sure have a plan, but let's just say I'm not ready to go into detail just yet on it fully.
Is there something you are proud of in what you’ve been doing?
I'm proud that I'm still piercing, and that I still enjoy piercing itself. Many of my peers have quit, retired, or become burnt out. I feel lucky that I'm still passionate about it.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
If you are a client, research your piercers, make sure you go to a reputable piercer that uses high quality jewelry. Appreciate your piercer. A good piercer has worked hard to evolve and learn to provide the latest techniques and quality jewelry. Do some research on what you want pierced, educate yourself a little so you know what to expect. And lastly, treat yourself right. Don't go for the cheapest, go for the best. Don't lower your self worth. If you need to save, save up and get yourself something good. You're worth it.
If you are a piercer, educate yourself, and keep doing so. I've been piercing for more than decades and still take classes and learn new things all the time. Also, know your boundaries and limits and work within them. Ask for advice from more experienced peers. Take a day to shadow another piercer and see how they work.