Pro-Piercer Interviews – Padraic Lindsey
Padraic Lindsey is an amazing individual I had the privilege of meeting while working in Chicago. He had just moved to the city to attend a violin making school and school hadn’t started yet, so many days were spent in the studio “geeking out” about body piercing. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained from talking with Padraic is unmeasurable and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to interview him!
KP: Tell me more about yourself! How long have you been piercing? Where did you get your start?
PL:I have been piercing professionally since 1997. I did my apprenticeship at age 17 after Steve Joyner (then of 23rd Street Body Piercing in Oklahoma City) offered me an apprenticeship at his new studio in Dallas. I couldn’t afford to move down and take him up on his offer as my father had recently been in a work accident and was unemployed. I took an apprenticeship with a third tier studio in my hometown and in 6 months was being more requested than the person “training” me.
KP: Training and education is important. Tell me about your qualifications.
PL: Other than “real world” experience of piercing for 13 years, I have read and studied Operating Room technique for asepsis practices, been on a think tank for piercing legislation, attended a Fakir Intensives seminar, been part of numerous rites of passage, helped train several piercers, and was asked by Brian Skellie to run Piercing Experience when he was first traveling.
KP:Piercing Experience is an amazing shop, running it for the 1st time must have been surreal. What was it like for you?
PL: It was interesting. I had been hanging out there, helping out as I could, for some time when Brian asked me to be there full time. I had run other shops before, but being the only person at the studio for 10 hours a day, 4 days a week was taxing at first! I loved every minute of it! The clients there are wonderful, they made the transition easy for me. It also helped that Christina Blossey (the present owner of Piercing Experience) was there to handle all the mundane things such as paperwork!
KP: What challenges did you overcome to get where you are at today?
PL: Ha! I have been fired from more studios for decrying their state of sanitation and standards than I care to count! Other than that, having to overcome an industry that is resistant to change, healthier standards, and more safety standards for clients and piercers alike. Also, not having anyone to help me learn about things such as asepsis, material science and safety, discomfort reduction techniques, etc. When I met Brian Skellie it was like meeting a kindred spirit. Finally! Someone else as nerdy about these things and as focused on them as I!
KP: There’s nothing wrong with having standards! What do you feel is the biggest problem in the piercing industry today?
PL: Standards. Or, more operatively, a lack of them. There is no reason that we should not be relying on medical science and safety standards to help us in jewelry material choice, sterilization standards, and safety standards for client and practitioner.
KP: I love jewelry! Who is your current favorite designer(s)? Why?
PL: Hmm. Tough question. I love lots of things from several manufacturers and loathe as many or more from the same people. That being said, Neometal anything. Threadless forever!
KP: What are some of your favorite piercings to perform?
PL: Honestly, I just love making my client happy. Seeing them smile is the best part of my day. I could care less if they are getting a navel/nostril/ear project/skullpalang/whathaveyou piercing. Ok. Maybe not a skullpalang. Maybe.
KP: I’ve heard of people having to do all kinds of weird things during their apprenticeship; do you have any stories to share?
PL: Actually, no. I never really went through hazing or anything like that. I just tried to learn as much as I could. With that in mind, every piercer I have had a hand in training I have tried to be fair and not haze them either. NO shocking people with the anodizer. *sigh*
KP: We’ve all seen piercings that have gone terribly wrong; What’s the worst thing you’ve ever witnessed?
PL: At Piercing Experience we had/have a photo file of things gone horribly wrong: from body parts enveloping jewelry, to broken cheap “jewelry,” to all sorts of nasty things. No fun.
KP: What is the one picture that really sticks out to you?
PL: I don’t know if there is still a photo of this, but this poor woman came into the studio with a horribly infected nose piercing. The tissue around the (crappy, steel, poorly bent) nostril screw that whomever pierced her had put in was inflamed to the point of weeping. I switched out her jewelry to a threadless titanium Neometal piece, and advised her to consult her physician. A round of antibiotics, shorter jewelry (after the infection and inflammation were gone) and voila! Happy nose!
KP: Any stories to share about any memorable clients or piercings you have performed?
PL: I watched one of the most intensely emotional and loving moments between an affianced couple. The bride to be was getting nipple piercings, and while I was performing the procedure the couple held hands and locked eyes, both with loving, bright smiles for one another. That will always stay with me.
KP: Most memorable experience w/nipple piercing couple.: It’s pretty awesome to be a part of an experience like that; You can feel all the energy in the air. Do you think there’s a deeper connection, than we realize, going on when you puncture someone else’s skin?
PL: I think that there can be. I don’t think that there is necessarily all the time. Some people are honestly there just to get something shiny to show off to those that they care about. Contrary to what some people think, there is nothing wrong with this. Who is to say that your spiritual awakening/rite of passage/etc is more important than someone else’s experience of getting a second earlobe piercing? No one, as there is no way to quantify experience like that. Both are just as valid. Now, I do think that there are moments and clients that have a deeper connection to the client, myself, or those connected to the experience. I personally revel in making people happy, no matter what the impetus!
KP: Are you a current member of any piercing related organizations such as the APP? Why?
PL: I am not, although if I were to go back to piercing full time in a studio environment I would join the APP. Change must come from within.
KP: What advice do you have to aspiring piercers?
PL: Do you do this for love? Then please do, and learn all that you can. Are you in this for monetary gain? Get out. You won’t get rich, and you’ll just give the rest of us a bad name.
KP: How do you suggest people get proper training these days?
PL: Whoo boy. I think that a proper apprenticeship with someone qualified is the best option available right now. I wish that there were proper courses to take, as in a medical school, so that practitioners could learn about asepsis from someone medically trained in it; that there were studies on wound care such as we are dealing with on a daily basis; that sterile gloves, only provably safe jewelry, and no reuse of anything was accepted as the best way to do things as well as mandated legally.
KP: How have you seen the piercing industry evolve since you’ve started?
PL: Woohoo. Well. I came in at the tail end of the piercing boom of the ’90’s. I started out in an industry on the end of an upswing. Now, that being said, I have seen us come leaps and bounds out of the dark ages of clamps, steel jewelry, non-sterile gloves, and masks. I am very grateful for that.
KP: Why do you think that steel is an inappropriate material to be used for body jewelry. Have you noticed a difference in healing and overall health of piercings?
PL: If you study material science, metallurgy, et al. you will find that the component elements in, for example, 316 LVM steel are almost all toxic to the human system. If you look at an ASTM certificate for said material you will find that only two of the elements in the steel are non harmful, and they make up something like 0.02% of the total makeup. Yikes. Also, again looking at studies, ASTM data sheets, etc, you will find that healing a would, surgical site, etc with steel increases not only scarring (up to 7-10 mm radially from the site), but will eventually cause an intense reaction in the host, a la a nickel allergy. Another good example of this is the EU Nickel Directive. In 1994, the European Union banned the use of nickel in any “products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin” not limited to earrings, watch straps, zippers, and finger rings. The also reformulated the coins used for currency to have no nickel. Now, what all this long-winded exposition boils down to is that nickel (and thereby metals containing it) are bad for you. To answer the question about healing and overall health: yes, both in my personal and profession lives. I do not have earlobes that shed skin seemingly randomly after switching to wearing predominantly titanium and borosilicate glass. Also, I have noticed the healing times and overall structure, look, and health of my clients piercings to be better as well.
KP: What do you think the future of body piercing holds? What do you hope to see 10 years from now?
PL: I hope that the future holds better safety standards, more happy clients, and more friendships!