Q: Is there a piercing school? - William
A: It is hard to imagine a career these days that does not involve some kind of schooling or degree focused work study. Most people will associate schooling with an advancement in knowledge in a given subject, which is understandable, as it has become the norm. This, though, has not always been the case. One form of learning is the often forgotten is the humble apprenticeship. This form of learning was common place when one could only become professionally recognized by the community to perform a given task by learning from one who is already proficient through in-person and hands-on practice. Learning to do body piercing requires this kind of hands on learning.
Now, there are many variations and no set definition of a quality apprenticeship and this can make it more difficult to find a piercer who is trained well, or make it more difficult to find a piercer who is considered “educated.” Hopefully, this article will help you find a piercer that you can trust had taken the time and put in the effort needed to stay atop the information in the field of piercing.
Once an apprenticeship is completed, which could vary in duration, a piercer is then responsible for their education- usually outside the helpful guidance of their mentor. A piercer has many options available to help increase their understanding of the complexities of body piercing, but some are more efficient than others. The two best ways for a body piercer to become better at their craft is through shadowing other piercers or through the annual Association of Professional Piercers conference.
To shadow a piercer, one once again assume the task of an apprentice. A piercer will visit a studio, watch the piercer they wish to learn from practice their craft, and ask questions of said piercer to gain further insight into alternative ways of approaching body piercing. This one on one approach is very relaxed. Since the shadowing piercer is not really an apprentice, though that is not always the case, the process is open to deeper, more complex, conversations about the subject of piercing. The downside to this approach is there is no way of stating publically that these efforts have been made, so as a piercee, you must ask specifically if the piercer you are considering has taken the time to learn from others post apprenticeship.
The APP’s annual conference is the best learning opportunity as it brings together piercers from all over the world to advance the field of body piercing. A piercer who attends conference has the opportunity to take classes that cover a multitude of subjects relating to the field, taught by piercers with a certain expertise in the subject. The conference is very similar to educational conferences for a number of fields. This form of group education garners a certain respect, as the organizers exert a great deal of effort to insure the conference provides a genuine service for those in attendance.
Piercers who attend conference- which is an expense that serves only to better the piercer so that they can better serve their clients- are given a certificate that displays the classes they took or taught. This is often proudly displayed in their studios so a piercee can see this accomplishment.
Educated piercers are also, generally, very passionate about their field, and this can be seen in the way they discuss it with someone who is interested in getting pierced by them. Asking questions of these passionate pierces is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The piercer will be excited to answer andy and all questions that you have, so ask away.
Q: How do I pick a good body piercer? - Tim
A: The selection of a piercer is very personal and depends upon your own set of criteria about your piercing experience.
Start by viewing your piercing not as a few exciting moments in the piercing chair, but as the entire experience, even once you have left the shop. The piercer will be inserting a foreign object into your body, so the way the object is placed, the jewelry and materials used, and the knowledge the piercer has and shares will be key elements to your long-term piercing outcome.
Before we can answer your question, we need to throw a few questions back to understand your criteria. Are you seeking a piercer who has proven knowledge, technique, and artistry? Is it important for you to have a trusting and comfortable relationship with your piercer? Are safe practices and sterility important? Is low price what you are seeking?
Many times, people begin by asking about price and skip the other factors that might be important to them. Since there are no body piercing regulations in Iowa, doing your homework about what you might expect for the end-to-end piercing experience will be your best bet to ensure a successful outcome.
Begin by investigating information online. Read reviews, send emails, and check with the Association for Professional Piercers (APP). The APP is an international non-profit alliance dedicated to the dissemination of information about body piercing. In addition to providing useful information, their website, www.safepiercing.org, lists APP members in your area who meet their minimum education, studio, and jewelry quality standards. This can narrow down your search, depending upon what is important to you.
After you have selected a few studios, arrange to take a tour of the facility and meet your potential piercer. Any shop worth considering will jump at this opportunity. Arrive with a set of questions, beng sure to focus on areas of major importance to you. Ask what type of materials they use for jewelry and how they sterilize tools and jewelry for piercing. Ask what they recommend for aftercare (product and technique) and if they have any concerns about the potential healing of your desired piercing. Ask what makes them a good piercer and how they will ensure the piercing will be a positive experience.
While some answers are clearly better than others, trust your gut regarding how you might feel getting pierced in that studio. The very last question you should ask is about price. Once you understand how well the studio and piercer will fit your criteria, you will be more able to make an educated decision about what price aligns with what you have learned.
While it can be a bit overwhelming selecting a piercer, having a few handy tools at your disposal will only work to help you feel comfortable that you are in qualified hands, so you can have a wonderful experience that you can treasure for a lifetime.
Q: I want to get a body piercing soon, do I have to get starter jewelry? Because they are ugly - Susan
A: “Starter jewelry” is a term commonly used referring to the initial jewelry worn in a piercing. It is often a limited style/brand/color/size of jewelry. The limited options are not necessarily related to safety. Some establishments keep options minimal to reduce inventory costs. If you feel comfortable with the safe practices of the business, and you are happy with the options available for your new piercing, then this option may be for you.
If you want more, you will need to do a little research. Start by asking yourself what you really want. Do you want elegance or something more extravagant? Do you want jewelry that stands out or something to compliment your look and lifestyle?
Once you have determined what type of image or concept YOU want, then it’s the right time to start asking what studios can offer. You cannot learn this by making phone calls or sending emails to ask what each shop’s piercing or jewelry costs. Physically step into each studio and see what you are actually buying, as standards and options vary drastically. Plan to take some time doing this. Make consultation appointments and meet up to discuss your direction and gain insight to their visions/abilities and practices. Each studio representative should be more than willing to make sure you are comfortable and excited about your piercing experience
and the awesome new jewelry that you will wear.
There are certain limitations to what can be worn, but these limitations should be geared around the sizing, health, and safety of your new piercing. Jewelry that can harbor bacteria or is improperly sized may not be appropriate for an initial piercing. But balance between practical and pretty falls into the hands and expertise of an experienced practitioner and artist.
Some establishments will go to the extent of really meeting your character and style, matching or contrasting your skin tone/eyes/hair and adapting the fundamentals of art and design to really take your new adornment to the next level.
Ask yourself what you really truly want. Remember that you are going to wear this 24 hours a day for months on end, so view it as an investment in yourself.
Do you imagine yourself in yellow gold and diamonds? Which semi-precious stones do you cherish the most: amethyst? emerald? citrine? Are you someone who loves the look of clustered tanzanite glistening back at you? Perhaps you want the elegance of smoky quartz in a rose gold setting. Or maybe you want to show everyone your adventurous nature with a mix of pink and purple sapphires. Your piercer should work with you to ensure that the first jewelry you buy is the jewelry you will adore for a lifetime.
Initial jewelry does not have to be “starter jewelry.” It can be fun, elegant, and one-of-a-kind, just like you!
Our entire staff here at Prysm collectively answers these questions. Please ask those questions you've always wanted to know. Not all will get published, but all will get answered.