Advice for a New Piercer

I received this email message from a reader:

Hello, My name is K. and my husband owns a tattoo studio that also does body piercing.  I have gained an interest in it, and have been observing piercings for about 4 months now.  I have pierced and gauged ears (including my own......ow!), tounge, belly buttons, eyebrows, and unfortunatly an unsecessful lip piercing.  I see your articles in pain magazine, which led me to buy your book.  I would like to start piercing full time, and I have apprenticed in a couple of other shops. My question is:  do you have any advice for someone like me? I am inexperienced and I shake tremendously when I pierce, but I love doing it, and I have read your book front to back.  I feel this is the only way I can gain experience and be awesome at what I do.  I just wanted to seek advice from a professional. Thank you so much for your time, K.

This is my response: Hi K, Thanks for your email and the positive feedback about my book. Observing piercings can be instructive in some ways, but you really need a skilled and experienced mentor to guide you and show you exactly where piercings should be placed and the specific techniques for safely and gently getting them there. When I apprentice someone, it takes about a year before I consider them to be a skillful piercer. Any training you can get from this company would be great: You say you've "apprenticed in a couple of other shops" but it doesn't seem that these "apprenticeships" have equipped you with the skills needed to properly do the job. It sounds to me like you have yet to have a proper apprenticeship. You need to gain further experience under appropriate guidance. Piercing without that is essentially the "trial and error" method, which is unfair to do on the paying public! Have you apprenticed under anyone who really knows what they're doing? If so, perhaps you can seek out a longer-lasting arrangement with them to further your training before piercing solo. Also, if you'd like to see me performing piercings, and demonstrating exactly where they should be placed and how quickly and easily an expert can perform them, I've got videos available here: They aren't "how-to" videos per se, but I think you could learn a lot from them (but watching them won't mean that you've "apprenticed under me"!) Also, you should come to the annual conference for the Association of Professional Piercers. Do you have the APP Procedure Manual? You can buy one here: Good luck! Elayne Elayne Angel The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing