Oh boy- please don’t take my following answer as a personal attack against you.
For myself, and many of my colleagues, we have dedicated our lives to this industry. We eat, sleep, and breathe body piercing. We underwent lengthy, arduous apprenticeships. We spend our free time talking to other piercers. We spend our vacations with other piercers. We date other piercers, marry other piercers, we hate other piercers. Our blood flows for body piercing. When we’re not piercing, we’re looking at jewelry for piercings, or wondering what we can do to make the next piercing we do quicker, safer, cleaner, more attractive, or easier for the client. Our studio is our home, our sacred space. Our industry is our first love. We live to pierce.
As I’ve said before, the sole act of piercing someone- poking a hole in someone’s body- it’s not hard. It’s super easy, really.
But here’s the deal- when you pierce yourself, when you push a sewing needle you’ve held over a lighter through your ear and shove some jewelry from Hot Topic in there- you’re not doing what I do. You don’t understand how sterilization works, you don’t understand how a needle cuts, you don’t know about the hours we’ve argued over how to prepare the skin beforehand. You don’t how that jewelry works, you don’t know who made it, you don’t know what it’s made of at an elemental level. You don’t know how to breathe, you don’t know how to open your soul and share an experience. You don’t know how to care for it, how it heals, why it isn’t healing. You don’t know how to keep yourself safe- physically, biologically, mentally, emotionally.
You’re not doing what I do. You’re trying- and for that, I’m flattered. But just like a person holding a pen can’t easily touch Da Vinci’s work, you holding a needle does not make us equals. What’s even worse is you thinking it does. When you strut into my studio, my home, my safe place, and you show me a complete abomination of a “piercing”, and you smile in my face, and then have the nerve to ask for my advice, or worse, my critiques, and get upset when I remind you that I have training, tools, knowledge, and passion- that is the biggest insult of them all.
We charge what we charge because we believe that while our job is extremely rewarding, we deserve to be able to do it comfortably. We should be able to charge for the access to our passion. In a world where the highest paid people are the ones who manipulate the most, or run the fastest, or jump the highest, we, as lowly body piercers, should be able to pay our rent and buy groceries. We should be able to eat lunch and dinner on the same day. We should be able to wear the jewelry you want too. We should be able to support a family, if we want one. We should be able to run small businesses, and be a cog in the wheel of our global economy. Trust me- if we didn’t have to spend money to live, we wouldn’t ask for yours. I’d love nothing more than to give myself - my services - away, but unfortunately, our society doesn’t give me a place to live, food to eat, or free movie tickets. So for now, I have to charge you for that.
As long as you’re spending money on iPads and Coach bags and Whole Foods and Lush shampoo, I don’t think it’s unfair to charge for what I provide. I think my fee is quite a deal. In the end, you get what you pay for, and if you didn’t pay anything, you probably didn’t get anything worth having.
Astutely sermonizing what it can feel like to be in the position of someone who loves their work.