Welcome to Industry Insider! This is a new Modblog series that will feature brief interviews from some fantastic body modification professionals across the world. We get a peek at the state of the community and what it’s like to work in the best industry around!
I know Richard from various professional piercing forums where he is usually the voice of unfiltered reason. Love him or hate him, you cant argue that he is becoming one of the more recognizable faces in the body modification community. Richard took the time to sit down and talk to me about the modification industry and community as a whole. We get the state of the community address straight from a man who is right at the heart of it.
Click through to read the interview!
When did you first become interested in Body Modification and when did you decide you wanted to make it your job?
As a kid, I felt drawn to images of body modification, on TV, in movies, and in print. My dad had tattoos and I was always captivated by them. As soon as I turned 18 and started getting tattooed and pierced, I knew I wanted to be part of this industry.
I was just reading an interview with ABC News from 2010 where you represented the modified community eloquently. What was it like to be put on a stage that big knowing that you were the ambassador for all of us at the time?
Finding myself under the microscope was pretty crazy. I had reporters standing outside my home, my phone was constantly ringing- people were sending threats and religious literature to me in the mail. I tried to speak not just my own truth, but what I knew to be true for all of us- we’re normal people with hopes, dreams, worries, and feelings.
Usually big time media and body modification are like oil and water, do you feel that ABC did a good job of not putting a negative spin on the whole story?
You help a lot of piercers every day in different discussion forums, why do you feel it’s important to give your hard earned knowledge out for free to people that could well be competition one day?
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In order to help this industry continue to grow, we have to provide a somewhat united front to our clients. Clients deserve to have access to a knowledgable professional who only uses the best jewelry. Educated piercers make for educated clients, and educated clients will seek out the quality they deserve. I don’t really feel like I’m turning people into my competitors, so much as we’re leveling the playing field a bit. Just because a piercer ups their jewelry game or learns a new trick or two, it doesn’t take money out of my pocket, but it does help clients everywhere have better experiences and generally become more discriminatory about who they let work on them- and that’s a good thing. People seem to forget that this industry is bigger than just the professionals who work in it- it’s our clients who pay our bills. Keeping them happy keeps us happy.
I try to be a straight shooter. Sometimes people need to hear that they’re not at the level they think they’re at, and as much as it hurts to hear, it needs to be said. There’s plenty of folks who don’t like me, and that’s fine I guess. But learning isn’t always fun.
Speaking of your being a straight shooter, You have a bit of a reputation thats complete with t-shirts and a tribute tattoo. I have personally been in the lions den once or twice and seen you rip a few people a new one. It’s all really just a case of tough love right?
By and large, yes. I love this industry, and want to see it flourish. Sometimes that means hurting someone’s feelings, for the greater good. The world isn’t all sunshine and puppies. Generally, if I feel someone’s actions demonstrate a lack of respect for the industry, or myself and my colleagues, then the gloves really come off. Nothing I say online is something I wouldn’t say in person. In general, I consider myself to be a decent person. I don’t kick puppies or anything.
Body modification seems to be more prevalent than ever, are you happy with the current state of the scene? What would you change?
Body modification is everywhere! It’s crazy to walk down the street and see kids with stretched labrets and big lobes- it’s even crazier to walk around a mall and try to find someone who doesn’t have at least a helix piercing. Our generation, our culture- we’re taking this further than it’s been in a while, and it’s a good thing. Inside our industry, I’d like to see everyone focused on common goals- only using quality jewelry, doing every piercing perfectly, turning every client into a jewelry snob, and fully understanding the basics of what we do. I see too many people getting sidetracked with just one focus, and they end up lacking in other areas. I also see people treating this like some sort of fame game, where their self worth is based on how many Instagram followers they have, and not on the quality of their work. That doesn’t help our industry, and it doesn’t help our clients.
You have helped a lot of clients through their modification journey, is there any one experience that stands out to you as particularly significant?
BMEzine helped me realize that I wanted to be a piercer when I was young. What would you say to someone who wants to make their passion into a profession? What are the first steps from client to professional?
This industry is full of dedicated, committed people. If you want to join it, you’ve got to really bring your A game. I can’t stress enough the value of a college education. Befriend your piercer, visit other piercers. Be the client you one day want to have. Understand that this isn’t a particularly easy path, but it’s worthwhile to the right people. Be willing to wait for the perfect opportunity. Don’t settle.
You can view Richard’s BME portfolio here. If you’d like to have some work done by Richard, he’ll be guest spotting at Enigma in San Diego, CA starting December 22nd. You can keep track of his current projects and incredibly busy life on his Instagram @richardeffinivey or his personal website.