The difference between a Body Piercer and a Tattoo Artist

The difference between a Body Piercer and a Tattoo Artist

“Do you do tattoo?” Is a frequently recurring question I get when I’ve just pierced someone or when I’m telling someone what I do for a living. Nope, I don’t tattoo. I used to draw a lot and I find the field very interesting and love to get tattooed or recommend artists to folks who ask but I’m no tattoo artist. For several reasons. I’m not the best artist/drawer/painter to start with and therefore would be much to insecure about my art to put it in someones skin permanently. I’m quite the perfectionist and would never agree with my piece, even if my client would love it. It would literally keep me up at night in guilt. But also because tattoo is very different from piercing. And body piercing happens to be my life’s calling, my passion and my obsession.

Piercing is precision. There is some medical knowledge and science involved, some insight, material en jewellery knowledge… it’s a whole other ballgame from tattoo. I want to be very, VERY good at one thing and not just “okay” at two or more different things.

Tattoo is art, painting, drawing. Tattoo artists are also an entire different species from body piercers in my opinion. Tattoo artists are artists, world travelers… often loners, backpackers, open minded, liberal… Honestly, so am I of I would want to be, but still different.

I’m no artist, artiste, I am creative but not nearly enough to be a tattoo artist. I would love to be a world traveler and so I am in my heart but as a body piercer you still are sort of anchored to your studio, your tools, your materials, work environment… A tattoo artist only needs their machines and ink and drawing and painting tools.  They can take those everywhere they go. I would love that kind of life though, seems dreamy. But I’m a body piercer, a mad scientist, a shoulder to cry on an ear that listens, a pseudo nurse, a jeweller, a saleswoman, a manager, shop owner, blogger… I’m good :P.

Piercing is in my blood, breath, sleep, energy, lust for life. Some look down on body piercers (I won’t name names: H. Schiffmacher) because these people assume anyone can poke a hole. The opposite is true though. All piercings are different. Skin, anatomy, sensitivity is different on each piercing on each person. Some people have allergies, or different preferences, different lifestyles, tastes… all these things make one piercing on 5 different people 5 entirely different piercings. Different materials and sizes not only to choose from but also some are suitable for the one piercing on the one person but totally impossible on the other. There are dozens of different piercings that can be done in dozens of different ways but there are only a few of these that allow for proper uneventful healing and a happy piercing life.

Piercers are also an entirely different breed from tattoo artist in their character, personality. I was raised with arts and musea and travelling and love to surround myself in art and freedom. I also view piercing as a form of art. But not so much in a form of visual art, more in the form of an art such as science is, such as magic is (magic tricks, illusionism I mean).

Tattoo artists are also a lot looser in some things. (Good) Piercers are very meticulous and precise and focus on hygiene, how a customer feels and reacts to certain aspects of the procedure and healing. Tattoo artists often lose themselves in their art while tattooing, they’re painting if you will. I know I would too. Both are amazing and deeply settled passions of mine but they are entirely different one from another. Which makes it even more odd that they are almost always paired in one shop. That they are almost always seen as two parts of a whole. When I think body piercing and body modifications (tongue splitting, elf ears, subdermal implants and the like) would be a better match than piercing and tattoo.