Curing Ill-Advised Piercing Combos

In many ways, the least qualified person to assess your appearance is … you.

First of all, you can check yourself from front on – but that’s only one angle. With an ambitious array of mirrors, you can see more, but you can’t really see what you look like from outside of yourself unless you go all the way to spycams or drone-powered selfies.

Second, even if you’re aggregiously vain, you’re unlikely to see yourself in a mirror nearly as often as your coworkers, family and friends look at you. And while you may be able to take the time to look really closely, you’re likely to completely lack objectivity. It’s your appearance – how unbiased can you possibly be? So when it comes to making significant or long-lasting alterations to your appearance – even if only to one part of your appearance — it makes a certain amount of sense to bring in an expert, a sort of consultant.

Enter the professional piercing curator.

While this is a job description mostly found in larger metro areas and Portlandia, there are also practitioners of this aesthetic art right here in Providence. We asked a few questions of veteran piercer Chantal St. Onge of Evolution Piercing on Weybosset St in Providence, the longest running piercing collective in RI, and Jess, one of the piercing curators at Marco’s Tattoo and Piercing in Wakefield. Every curated piercer we reached out to was either too busy to talk – over the course of a week – or had to cut the interview short to help customers, so there’s definitely a boom demand for these thought-out earmarks.

Mike Ryan (Motif): Curated piercing is a new phrase, but isn’t it something you’ve been doing all along?

Chantal (Evolution Piercing): We’ve certainly been piercing for a looong time. We’re the oldest established shop in RI. I’ve been piercing for 22 years and [owner] Joe has been piercing for 26. The curated part is really about jewelry selection.

MR: How do you get good at this?

Jess (Marco’s Tattoo and Piercing): Every single piercing, I tell people what would look best for them, and if they want a little ear project, we go over that.

CSO: We buy jewelry from many different sources and from all over the world, although all of the jewelry that we initially pierce people with is American made. With a quality selection, it’s then about what looks good, what looks “now,” what’s quality workmanship.

MR: And what do you look for in an ear, or in a body part?

Jess: We’ll look at the shape of the ear, what will work best for placement of jewelry as well as whatever tops or clusters will look nice. Based on the shape of the ear, you also want to make sure things don’t look cluttered.

CSO: Everyone’s body is different. The vast majority of people can get any pierce they want. Every so often we’ll see someone whose anatomy isn’t right for a certain pierce, but that’s very rare. That might happen once a year.

There might be a few restrictions, like if a person has a job where they might get really dirty. I’ve seen that a couple of times – like a mechanic, whose face may routinely get very dirty, may not want to have piercings on their face. If you have to wear a uniform that cuts right across your stomach, you might not want to get a naval piercing, because it will rub and make it hard to heal.

MR: And you don’t find yourself behind someone in line at CVS going, “That ear would look great with a … pierce.”

CSO:  No. [laughing] No.

Jess: It’s odd, when I’m in the store sometimes I’ll see an ear and go, “Oh, I could do this, or this …” but of course I don’t talk to them about it. I’ll only talk about it if someone asks.

MR: What other body parts do you work on?

CSO: Everything that’s safe to pierce.

MR: Any favorite piercings, or special piercings you’ve done?

CSO: One thing I haven’t done as much of is vertical earlobes. So the first few times I did those, it was very rewarding to get it all right. I was pretty proud of myself.

It isn’t so much the pierce itself as the person I’m working on. If they’re happy to get the pierce – and happy with how it comes out – just really into it and relaxed, that’s what makes it special. It could be something very common like a nostril, but they make it special.

MR: Do you have any stories about favorite customers?

CSO:  I can think of one who has been a regular for years, she’s had a lot of work done by both Joe and me and she’s always everything I would want in a customer – she’s very relaxed, very happy, very happy with the work. She takes care of them afterward – that’s so important! She’s been a great customer.

MR: Speaking of taking care of them – do you have any tips on selecting a location that safe? Should customers ask about anything particular, like tool reprocessing or safety…

CSO: The big thing is – virtually every problem I see is from when people touch. As a piercer, that’s the worst thing you can do to a pierce, because we touch money and doorknobs and railings – especially money, which is just disgusting. So if a piercer actually touches a pierce, that’s a bad sign – that moves all those germs into an open puncture wound.

Here are some locations that do curated piercings in our area:

820 Tiogue Ave, Coventry

Anchored in Flesh
8 Gansett Ave, Cranston

Black Lotus Tattoo and Piercing Studio
6820 Post Rd, North Kingston

Level Seven Tattoo
818 Newport Ave, Pawtucket

Marco’s Tattoo
473 Main St, Wakefield

Shades of Sunderland Tattoo & Body Piercing
99 Fortin Rd, Kingston

Rockstar East
394 Wickenden St, PVD

Rockstar West
405 Atwells Ave, PVD

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