Born This Way Part Two!

This interview will be a little different. I interviewed Jared Silverman and Tyler McClure, both from Born This Way Body Arts in Knoxville, Tennessee.

This is a follow up to the previous interview I did with Bryan about his career and the lovely studio he has. If you didn't see that post, do yourself a favor and read it here.

I had a fun time working with a new format for the interviews and an even better time getting to know some up and coming piercers. I hope you enjoy.


Chris Jennell: How long have you been piercing and how did you guys get your start?

Tyler McClure: I’ve been piercing for just over 5 years.  I got my start by getting a piercing when I turned 18 and mentioning to the piercer that I wanted to learn and he got super eager and said he would teach me how through an apprenticeship. I guess I kinda lucked into it.

Jared Silverman: Right at 7 years for me. I loved getting tattooed and pierced and just kind of fell into the lifestyle. Eventually the shop I hung around got tired of me pestering them and just told me to start coming in, but in hindsight I should have approached it differently.

Jared Silverman
CJ: Have both of you always worked with high end jewelry, or were you one to have to work your way up?

TM: I didn't always use high end jewelry. My apprenticeship and the first three years of my career were using jewelry that didn't meet minimum standards. At the time I didn't know better, I knew of the APP but only of the conference and not the minimum standards they hold.  When I began doing more research and becoming frustrated with the quality of the jewelry I was using I found out about high end jewelry and began making efforts to change my studio.  Leaving that one to open another that only stocked high end jewelry, then moving to Born This Way.

JS: About 3-4 months into my apprenticeship, a piercer friend told me about the old BME/IAM Learning forum. At first it didn’t make sense, all that talk about internal thread and implant specifications, mostly because the shop I was at couldn’t be wrong right? After a little over a year I visited Anatometal HQ to see what it was all about and immediately started stocking a small amount of better jewelry. Ultimately I would credit my time working in Australia a few years after starting my career as the first time I was doing things correctly including jewelry selection.
Tyler McClure

CJ: How long have you been at BTW

TM: I’ve been at BTW since June 1st of 2014.

JS: I joined the staff in September 2012.

CJ: You have both started working together fairly recently, how do you work together? Do you two seem to feed off of the studios culture or is there something else?

TM: I think we work pretty well together.  When I did a guest spot, Jared and I did a few sets of tandom nipple piercings and it went so smoothly I was shocked that I could work so well with someone I'd never pierced around.  Aside from working with a friend or shadowing someone for a day or two I have never worked alongside another piercer. we both have different techniques in how we pierce and how we talk to clients or sell jewelry.  It seems to work out pretty well for us. Unless Jared disagrees;) .

JS: I agree with Tyler. One thing that really helps is that we can kind of alternate - instead of doing the whole process from jewelry selection to checking the client out in the middle of a rush, I can count on Tyler to set up my statim tray and ring clients out correctly. He can count on me to answer questions or troubleshoot the POS system instead of having to call the owner. Just having another full time piercer around is immensely stress relieving, not only for us but for the entire staff in general.

Tyler industrial.jpg

CJ: You guys work for a great company, can you give us a little advise for the piercers looking to get into a studio with a healthy culture and general positive outlook for growth?

TM: Push yourself to be the best you can be. Push yourself to be consistent in every piercing. Stay open minded and willing to learn. Decide what you want in a studio and what jewelry you want to work with and hold onto that, don't settle for less. Others are always watching, even when we don't think they are; you never know when an opportunity will arise.

JS: Only open your mouth when you can improve on the discussion. So many people shoot themselves in the foot by trying to be someone they aren’t - in particular, I think a lot of younger piercers get in over their head by trying to run before walking. A lot of it is because they feel pressure to work to the level of their more seasoned peers. Just be patient and positive and everything comes together.

CJ: What are your top three favorite styles of jewelry currently available?

TM: I currently enjoy fancy gold ends, multi-threaded industrial pieces, and cabochon ends.

JS: Interesting and abstract gold ends, custom gold septum pieces, anything gold really. I’ve been really happy with the development taken on by our manufacturers; at this point, I feel like anything you can imagine can be made a reality. That kind of flexibility didn’t exist even 5 years ago to the level it does now and it’s really exciting to see.

CJ: You know I love me some gold, Do you find that it is easier to sell gold with having a larger inventory in stock than maybe if you didn't have any of it to look at in hand?

TM: Absolutely! My last studio was my first time working with gold.  We started off with only a few pieces in stock and we were slowing growing that until my move.  In that time the more I had the easier it was to sell, and now at BTW it's not at all uncommon that we are doing most piercings with gold.

JS: Yes and no. The highest priced sale I’ve ever made was out of a Venus catalogue in a shop with NO gold jewelry (and very little good jewelry). I think the client that is accustomed to buying off the rack is going to buy more gold with a bigger selection available. On the other hand, some people are used to buying custom and waiting - to that client, I don’t think it matters so much. I will say that client is incredibly rare!

CJ: What are some key things that you think make up an overall solid piercing?

TM: I think jewelry choice (style and sizing) and placement are very important. I want to see piercings that are placed well with a piece of jewelry that fits the area and not just slammed in there without regard to aesthetics.

JS: Client comfort is key. What Tyler said, size and style, makes up a big portion of what makes a client’s piercing comfortable for long-term wear. Also, having designs that work well for the client - a $500 septum ring doesn’t make sense for a server that can’t wear it at work if it doesn’t have a hinge, for example.

tyler faux snug.jpgCJ: I ask everyone this question because I find it important. What do you see happening to our industry over the next 5 years?

TM: In the next 5 years, I think we will see many piercers either moving to new studios or upgrading their studio to meet and exceed the minimum standards of the Association of Professional Piercers. The APP being a common household name for body piercing and more jewelry companies pushing the envelope of quality body jewelry.

JS: More specialization in the jewelry available. I assume the demand is going to increase as it has over the past couple of years to the point that many more manufacturers are going to sprout up to meet it. I personally think it would be amazing to see more manufacturers like Reign Custom Design, a company with a focus on a singular product. Who knows, maybe there is an elite navel jewelry company in development right now, for instance!

CJ: You both have such a different look at the next 5 years, Tyler you mention piercers moving forward and Jared, you mention jewelry being more specific. Is there some common ground that we may be missing if we combine both of your ideas of the net 5 years?

TM: the way I look at it is that Jared's take is almost a result of mine. Jewelry companies becoming more specialized in a single product (i.e. elite navel jewelry) because more piercers are upping the game and demanding quality with their minimum standards.  More companies sprouting up to meet the higher demand.

JS: The only other thing I see as a result of our current trend continuing to gain steam is the recognition our industry will gain, both good and bad, from people interested in cashing in. Whether that means Hot Topic will be the first national piercing chain or not is hard to say, but anyone with half a brain can see that officials are taking notice. I think tighter legislation will be coming; whom it benefits, that’s really up in the air.

CJ: I really appreciate you two taking the time to answer in a new format for me. It's nice to get to know you both. Is there anything you want to add or advice you'd like to give someone up and coming or aspiring to be in our industry?

TM: Really think about this; sit and ask yourself why you want to be a piercer.  Is it because you love piercing for what it is or is it cuz it looks fun and cool? Jef Saunders wrote a great blog entry about apprenticeships.  Seek out knowledge from the Association of Professional Piercers annual conference, Fakir Intensives, and a knowledgable apprenticeship; never stop learning.

Tyler triple nostril.jpg

JS: Really look at your life goals and priorities before dedicating your time to pursuing a career in body piercing, seriously. Not everyone can dedicate 100% to their career due to other priorities in their life, and that’s okay - nobody HAS to be a piercer!

If you are interested in seeing more from these two you can check out a few of their links:

Stay tuned for more. As always please feel free to email me at

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