Interview with Luis Garcia

I have been really procrastinating with this blog entry business. One day I will get it consistent but for now, here is an interview I have been sitting on for a few weeks.

I couldn't tell you exactly how long I have known Luis Garcia but either way, he's a genuine guy. I can say that he certainly will tell you like it is and this interview definitely shows that. Its always refreshing to see piercers that have been around for a long time that want to adapt and change with the times. I look forward to many more interactions with this gentleman and hope that if you haven't had the chance to interact with him, you should. 


So here we go with the juicy stuff:

Chris Jennell: So I know you've been piercing since the dawn of time but can you tell us exactly how long that is?

Luis Garcia: As of Dec 20th 2013, I've been piercing for 23 years.

CJ: I know you've pierced all over, including other countries but have you been based in Philadelphia your entire career?

LG: Actually, no.  I started as a self taught piercer at a headshop/record store/smoothie bar in Miami Beach, FL. When I moved to Washington, DC to go to The George Washington University, I got a job and an official apprenticeship at Perforations in DC (which closed it's doors in 2000 or 2001 I think).  

After a few years, and due to a feeling of being under-appreciated, I jumped ship to help open and work at Industrial Body Piercing in DC (which closed it's doors in 2004 I think).  After 6 months or so at Industrial, I got into an argument with the general manager about the autoclave being broken.  He demanded that I soak my tools in bleach and keep working, I told him to fuck himself.  

Two weeks later, in October 1998 I was hired at Infinite Body Piercing, so I moved up to Philly, and made a home here.  In March of 2002 I moved to NoKaOi, and am still happily piercing there after almost 12 years.

CJ: How long have you been a member of the association of professional piercers?

LG: I have been an active member since 1999

CJ: I expect this to be a very long response but you volunteer at our yearly conference, have taught many classes all over the world and also help daily with your blog, can you tell me more about what you do to help better our industry with not only educating piercers but the public?

LG: I've taught every year at the APP conference since 2004, at the first APP Mexico City conference in 2006, at BMXnet in Essen, Germany in 2007, at APTPI in Milan, Italy in 2012, and just recently at the first LBPac conference in Mexico City, Mexico November 2013. 

When it comes to educating piercers, I try to keep it as simple as possible, while still getting (what I feel are) the more important concepts across.  I find that many instructors try to get way too traditional when teaching, and that gets very boring.  I remember sitting through classes at conference, and being bored out of my mind, so the information just wouldn't sink in.  I keep my classes fun, less structured, and laced with a mild amount of sass.  I also encourage a good amount of attendee interaction.  It seems to work very well, as my classes are always the highest rated at conference, and generally the most attended.  What's most imp

ortant to me is that the attendees "get" what I'm trying to teach them.  Many instructors (all around, not just at conference) just want to show off their knowledge, or their skills, and they lose touch with the purpose of teaching, while alienating some attendees.  It's not about standing there and showing off how much you know.  It's about standing there and making things click in their heads.  That's what's good for the industry, and their clients.

I use this when educating piercers online.  I'm always willing to share information, even to piercers that many of the elite consider not ready for it.  I would rather explain the concepts to them, so they at least have the right info, and generally, it seems to work pretty well.  I'm also open to having piercers shadow me at the shop, so they can watch me work, if they need to see these concepts in action.  

I also apply this to educating clients, both in person and online.  I keep it simple, and to the point.  I talk to them like they are people, not just a source of income.  I'm also blunt, which I find most people prefer.  I also keep it informal and sassy, which most people find fun.  

CJ: As a piercer with a lot of piercings under your belt, what piercing do love to do more than any other?

LG: Daiths are my number one favorite piercing to do.  They are simple to do, simple at first glance, but when placed and sized right, even a steel captive bead ring in a daith can look elegant and turn heads. 

CJ: You have a very classic look to a lot of your work, is there a particular way that you go about your projects?

LG: Hahahahaha, You're calling me old! Pot, kettle, black, you hooker! :P

Honestly, I can't think of anything specific I do to get this "classic" look you speak of.  When I'm working on a project, I just look at the anatomy I'm working with, what the client likes the look of, then build on that.  I try to keep it as original as possible, so I'm not copying someone else.  Though I will admit that when I see an attempted project that I feel falls flat, I might try to execute it properly.  I think too many piercers think of the design before thinking about anatomy, and that's a recipe for failure. 

CJ: There's very much an "if it's not broke don't fix it" mentality I get from you about your work, is there something you see that's a current trend losing its hype?

LG: To a point, you're correct, but I do still evolve and up my game in ways I find matter to me, which is generally technique based.  

As for trends, sadly, what I see that bothers me doesn't seem to be dying down.  Too many piercers have become obsessed with jewelry, and not in a good way.  It's awesome that you sold that gold seam ring with 25 genuine diamonds! Too bad you didn't close it right, so now the gap in that very expensive ring is gonna jack up the client's fresh piercing.

To many piercers have the mistaken idea that quality means gold, and they're dead wrong.  Many of these piercers can barely get the piercing straight, or they sacrifice comfortable healing to make that sale on a HUGE starburst atrocity that can't even fit inside the clients navel, never thinking about how the hell that client is going to bend down comfortably.  I'd rather see a perfectly placed and executed piercing with implant grade steel or titanium than a half assed crooked piercing with a $500 gold piece in it. 

I also see way too many piercers have become lazy because of pressfit jewelry.  There are even "respected" piercers that can't even do a piercing with a threaded end because they have limited themselves to pressfit jewelry.  I can work with both, because I haven't allowed myself to get lazy by falling into the trend of press fit jewelry.  

Another thing that I hope dies down is this obsession with being totally tool free that's become rampant.  Many of these piercers are making the procedure take way longer than it needs to, just for the sake of being tool free, which is harder on the client. I get the point of it, to minimize contaminated items that get reprocessed, but if you know how to process and sterilize, it's a non-issue.  

CJ: So I am trying to get a feel for what all the people I interview have to say about our industry. What do you see happening on the next 5 years?

LG: This is a tough one, honestly, because I see different aspects of the industry going different ways.  
First, I see jewelry like organics and other "ear jewelry" becoming something shops aren't really selling.  This is because many of these companies are selling to online retailers or on their own web stores for cheaper than we can sell them at our shops.  I know that for the last year, it's been tough as hell to sell them, and I'm one of the few people that doesn't mark them up much. 
I love these companies, and consider the people that work there my friends, and I love the jewelry.  I'm also not one of the people that lashes out at these companies for doing what they do.  I understand that they are running a business, and need to do what's right for them.  In the end, it's a little sad, because I like to rep them and post images of their items on my social media feeds, but if I can't sell these items, I can't buy more to restock.  

I see the general industry staying the same in many ways.  I'm hoping that the numbers of attendees at the APP conference will continue to increase, and let more piercers see that it's important to step up their game.  But realistically, I think it's still going to be like it is now, with 80% of piercers doing a crap job with crap jewelry.  It seems harsh, but I honestly think this is the reality.  I hope I'm proven wrong.  

CJ: What do you have say to the people that are aspiring to become a piercer?

LG: It's not as easy or cool as you think.  Be prepared to work your butt off for very little to nothing for quite a while.  Make sure you're truly passionate about piercing.  To survive in an industry like this requires true passion. 

CJ: And to those piercers that are trying to better themselves?

LG: Keep learning and seeking out information.  Then think about what you've learned and how best to apply it to how you work, if it's applicable at all.   Don't just listen/read and repeat.  

CJ: As a gay man in a what we hope is a very open industry do you see it posing issues with clients or even within our industry? (I'm trying to better word this)

LG: Interestingly enough, I find that piercing is less open than it used to be in many ways.  Modern piercing came out of the gay leather / fetish community, but in the early 00s, as more and more tattoo shops started adding piercing, and as piercing became more mainstream, an air of homophobia settled in with many newer piercers.  

I feel that a slight deviation from this has begun in the last 3-5 years, with a newer, more modern, more open generation of piercers coming onto the scene.

CJ: Is there anything you would like to add?

LG: Nope :P

Luis is active on social media, here are some links to get you to see his current works:


I really am glad to have had the chance to do this interview. It was certainly enlightening and it is refreshing to have some real talk. If you are interested in more from me, have ideas for an entry or want to send me some mail: is the place to do so.

I am in the works to do some new interviews so stay tuned.

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