Piercing Interview with Brian

  • When did you first become aware of piercing?

    I first became aware of piercing while growing up in the 80’s metal scene, where my parents would take me to see Motley Crue, Poison, Skid Row, and the like, on a pretty regular basis. Everyone should be jealous at the amount of badass bands I’ve seen. The list goes on and on. Of course, when you’re as young as I was, you look up to all the long haired, ripped jean wearing, PIERCED and TATTOOED, older crowd. That is when I first remember thinking piercing and tattooing was cool.

    What does your family think about your job?

    My family, though they don’t love the idea of ME getting tattooed or pierced, is more supportive than I expected they’d be with regards to what I do. And, they know about everything! I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the progress I’ve made with building a good reputation, because this career path isn’t exactly worthy of much if you’re from West Hartford, CT. Of course, my mom does make plenty of subtle suggestions about going back to school, but I know she loves me and will always be behind me.

    How do you improve your skills as a piercer?

    Practice, practice, practice. I’m the kind of person who dwells on mistakes and fixates on rectifying them. I’ll do a nostril piercing and wish the angle was .1 degree clockwise and it will run through my head all day and night trying to come up with a way to ensure perfection for the next time, even though I’m the only person in the world who will ever notice. Before I try something new I go over it a million times in my head to come up with all the possibilities and odds of failure before I’ll attempt it.

    Are you an APP member? Why or why not?

    I’m not a member of APP, no. I agree with a lot of the information they put out, but I also believe there are other right ways of doing things. In other words, I don’t follow all their rules and I don’t think what I do is any less safe or correct than the way they might “suggest” doing the same thing. They just appear too cut and dry for me. Not to mention a lot of the work I do blatantly disregards what the APP promotes, so it’d probably be difficult to obtain membership even if I wanted to.

    A lot of piercers seem to move into scarification and implants in their later careers. Do you have an interest in this as well?

    It’s pretty well known I’m involved with a wide spectrum of modification procedures, and it’s true that it came as an evolution from piercing. I began learning about scarification about 5 or 6 years into my piercing career, and implants shortly after. My problem is when kids begin “dabbling” with scarification and implants EARLY in their “careers”, just because they think it’s the new black and they may obtain a bit more street credit from the other kids who just don’t know any better. My advice is always to concentrate on one thing at a time and once you’ve mastered it, then move on. Otherwise, you are just going to work half ass at a lot of different things rather than being great at all of them.

    Is piercing an art form or more of a craft?

    I tend to tackle piercing from a far more scientific view than creative, I think. Angles, measurements, technique…….I’m not the kind of person who just marks a pair of piercings by eye and is okay with it. I pull out the calipers and levels and grids and use several reference points for marking piercing. I guess that would make it a craft? Of course, it’s not the same for everyone.

    What are your favorite piercings to do, and why?

    There really aren’t any piercings I can say I enjoy or don’t enjoy doing. Maybe the tongue, but only because people don’t like to cooperate all the time. It definitely has a lot more to do with the personal connection I feel with the particular client, though. I could do navels all day long and love every single one if the people I’m working with show appreciation and care for what I’m doing to help them. If they’re nice people and enjoy joking and conversing I have a lot of fun with my clients. It’s not uncommon for me to sit with someone for an hour for a simple piercing if we’re getting along and having a good time. Of course, if they’re bitchy, annoying, talking on their cell phone the entire time, bargaining for pricing, all I wanna do is get them out the door, no matter what they want done.

    What piercings do you find the most challenging?

    I’d say septums, for sure, but that’s probably a given. Just trusting my eye can get a bit unnerving sometimes. It’s not that viable an option to mark both sides and just pierce from mark to mark, since you can’t see both sides at the same time, and the slightest angle inaccuracy will curse my dreams for days. Obviously things like multi-hole ear projects can be challenging, but for the most part they just take more time, that’s all. Since I’m so picky, though, the most challenging things for me are pairing piercings on opposite sides of the face and being 100% happy with them afterward, especially when faces are never perfectly symmetrical. I can spot the slightest millimeter differences, whether the client or their friends can or not, and it will always bother me. I get very frustrated when everything looks great with the marking, then after the work is done and the jewelry is in something just looks off. Luckily, though, I’m usually the only one who’s bothered.

    Would you recommend piercing as a career? What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a piercer?

    I’d certainly recommend piercing as a career for someone who understands that to make a living by it, it will take a lot of hard work, patience, studying, and time to progress to the point where you can establish enough clientele based on your reputation to make it worthwhile. Too many kids think piercing is just an easy, cool thing to do that they can dress and act however they want forever and everyone will be their best friend, but people quickly lose respect for someone who doesn’t have a true passion for what they’re doing.

    If you leave piercing, what do you think you’ll do?

    The only way I could see myself leaving piercing is if people, as a whole, just decide they don’t want piercings anymore, leaving me with nothing to do. I wholeheartedly love all of this and see no reason to ever stop. Let’s just say this worldwide piercing strike happened, though, and I wasn’t lucky enough to win the lottery…….maybe a bouncer? :) Maybe hustle fight for money? I’m a small guy, but I have this ridiculous strength I built from gymnastics starting at 6 years old through high school sports that, despite doing nothing to maintain it, refuses to leave me. A lot of people underestimate it, so I’ve made a lot of quick bucks through arm wrestling :) Of course, none of this will ever happen, so I’ll just keep piercing.

    It’s been my observation that many piercers seem to “burn out” after five to ten years and leave the industry — what are some of the stresses of being a piercer?

    The biggest problem with this industry is the lack of education for the public to help them understand why they are paying more for work they think they can get for half the price down the street, which of course is not the same work. Too many shop owners are out to make quick, easy money off uninformed clients who don’t know the importance of quality jewelry and proper sterilization guidelines and too many clients don’t know any better and assume if a shop is offering piercing they MUST know what they’re doing. They MUST have taken courses and gotten licenses to do what they’re doing, right? Hardly. NYC has no regulation governing piercing in anyway, aside from mild age restrictions, but most shops don’t even follow those. A lot of piercers can’t compete with the prices of substandard shops using 20 cent jewelry, so the decline in work makes for a boring work life, I guess.

    What makes you a good piercer?

    Aside from technically being able to push a needle through the skin from point to point, I’d say the most important thing is attention to detail during, before, and after the procedure. I’m extremely patient and willing to spend as much time as is needed to make an unnerving encounter into a pleasurable, or fun experience for the client and myself.

    I use most of my “free” time furthering my understand of what works, how it works, and why it works, so when questions or problems arise, I know how to deal with them accurately and quickly without panicking or causing the client to panic. Every piercer is going to run into problems with their work, both during a piercing and afterward. There’s no way around that. It’s knowing how to properly assess that problem and suggest or apply a rectification that makes a good piercer.

    What’s the youngest person you’ve ever pierced, and what’s your personal feeling on age (independent of the law)?

    I’ve done lobe piercing on children as young as 3 years old, I think. I actually really do enjoy piercing children’s ears, because it means the parent has taken the time to research and learn the importance of proper technique and sterilization and even though it would only cost $10 including the jewelry to get it done at the mall, they’re willing to spend the extra amount to make sure it’s done safely. As long as a parent isn’t forcing the piercing on a kicking and screaming child, I’m willing to work with them. And, after all the tears are gone, the smiles on those kids’ faces are precious! :)

    Aside from earlobes, the youngest I’ll do most standard piercing is 15, but more commonly 16, always with parental consent. It’s a personal judgment call to decide the emotional or physical maturity level of the 15 year olds I will work on, but I’m willing to tell the parent of a child who’s friend I worked on that I won’t pierce them, whether it’s due to lesser physical development or just the fact they don’t seem to be listening to me while I’m talking to them. Of course, the 18 year old line is strictly drawn for any genital or nipple work.

    What range of tools do you use? Needles? Scalpels? Dermal punches? More? On anything past a needle, why or why not?

    I work mainly freehand and disposable for my piercing work. It comforts people, especially parents of minors, to know that combined with sterile technique the chance of them contracting disease or infection during a piercing is minimized to nearly zero. When it comes to procedures beyond standard piercing, I find there are tools that can make the work quicker, less painful, and easier on the client, as well as myself. I use scalpels, as well as punches, quite often. All of my surface and microdermal work is done with a 1.5mm punch, which removes any skin pressure or distortion by the jewelry, generally making for a more comfortable and quicker healing. The same goes for most of the cartilage piercing I do for the same reasoning. Honestly, I’m under the impression that punching any straight piercing would probably heal more easily than with a needle, but most skin areas are resilient enough to heal with a needle, which is of course much more cost effective. A 12g needled nipple piercing with a straight barbell should be expected to take several months or even a year to fully heal, but I’ve punched 8g nipple piercing that felt and appeared healed much more quickly and less painfully, to boot.

    I used to be on the bandwagon of piercers against using punches on soft tissue, but I’ve come to a realization that so long as you aren’t removing more tissue than is necessary for proper healing, nor what may be needed for future stretching, punches can be much more dependable than scalpels in many cases, including earlobes. The tissue tends to gain quite a bit of elasticity after a small core is removed, making for very easy stretches. Just yesterday I did a 2g philtrum with a 4mm punch. I marked lines both at the highest and lowest points I’d be comfortable removing and the 4mm easily fit between them. After making the hole a taper wasn’t even necessary for fitting the jewelry at a very comfortable tension.

    What do you think of ear scalpelling?

    When dealing with initial large gauge lobe piercing I approach it the same way I did with that philtrum. I’ll mark a line that follows the shape of the lobe leaving as much room as I think will be both aesthetically appealing, as well as functional for future stretching. Then I’ll mark a line under the anti-tragus cartilage making sure there’s ample distance from the cartilage. Whatever size punch will fit between those lines is the largest I will use, and I’m pretty conservative with those lines, too. From there, a lobe will easily fit two or three gauge sizes up immediately after punching with minimal stretching. What you’re left with is a nice, round hole in a good area from future stretching that heals very quickly and anticlimactically, in most cases.

    I’m quite picky about what I’ll do to enlarge a hole with a scalpel, though. People are always asking for me to take them from the ¾” they have to 1-¼” or wherever, but I never make promises or guarantees what size I’ll cut to. First, I’ll usually have the person leave their jewelry out for awhile to see what kind of thickness they can retain, in the case of thinning lobes. If what the person comes with is a slit looking hole that continually stretches toward the thinning point, I’ll mark out a circular shape and remove what doesn’t need to be there for future stretching, making for a hole that will more fully and uniformly stretch. Almost always if I’m scalpelling your ears it’s because they just won’t stretch anymore without tearing or thinning. I remove what will never be needed for stretching toward the outside or upper part of the lobe and whatever fits in afterward is what you get. I won’t overdo a cut just to fit a bigger size and will never cut just to save someone some time and patience.

    What is your line as to what you won’t do? What’s your policy on doing “extreme” piercings like vertical oral piercings, under-the-collarbone, achilles piercings, eyelids, banana hammocks, uvulas, and so on? If you don’t do these, why not?

    The piercings I turn away are the ones where the risk outweighs the outcome. As a piercer, I work with skin. If a piercing has a good possibility of penetrating underlying tissue, bone, or artery that will result in a hospital visit for the client, what they’re willing to risk, or spend, for that kind of trouble isn’t worth it for me. Being that you can’t see, nor feel, these problem areas behind things like clavicle bones, I’m not comfortable taking the chance.

    How has the public attitude toward piercing changed in the time you’ve been working?

    While piercing is still taboo, it has definitely become more widely accepted, especially amongst underage teens. When I was in high school there may have been one or two students in the entire school who had more than ear piercing, but now it’s hard to get through a day without a freshman, or younger, coming in for a lip or nostril piercing, with parents ready to sign! There are a lot more icons, above and beyond the expected rebels, paving way for more adults to find acceptability in getting piercing, as well.

    How do you feel about doing piercings that you’ve never had? Can you do them as well; give advice on them as well?

    I enjoy new challenges and the thinking it takes to figure them out, but honestly, since pretty much any new piercing is just going to be using the same technique from another piercing I’ve already done only in a new area, it’s pretty much common sense. Microdermals, for me, were for the most part a smaller version of punch and taper surface bars. It just took a little extra time to figure out how to do it quickly and more comfortably for the client, but nothing really difficult. I still do them the same way as the first one I ever did, I’m just more confident now, so I can get them in in a few seconds rather than a few minutes. It was still common sense, though, and the aftercare is all the same.

    Are you still getting piercings yourself? I know a lot of people get a ton of piercings when they’re young, and then sort of “settle down”.

    Exactly as you’ve described, I definitely have settled down with that. Right now all I wear are my nostril piercings and my 28mm ear jewelry, which I’ve built quite the collection for. The hoops in my nose do get torn fairly often at shows, so I take them out regularly and redo them as needed. I think it’s been done at least a dozen times now. At one point I wore 5 hoops in there, but right now only two. It’s a big, scarred mess. I have thought about cutting my labret for years now, but we’ll see if it ever actually happens. I do miss my apadravya, as well, but no girls I’ve been with have ever really liked it, so……Otherwise, I kinda like being able to look like I “can” fit in when needed. My mom appreciates that, too.

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    April 3rd, 2011 | Pure | No Comments |

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Pure Body Arts

PURE is a friendly, high end shop offering the most unmatched quality jewelry available, as well as the most extensive sterilization guidelines around. All piercing will be done using 100% sterile techniques, and we’re well versed with any piercing related procedures, including surface and genital piercing. We offer world renown scarification and modification work that you won’t find anywhere else in NYC.

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