Over the next few weeks, the I-Kandy blog will be featuring Artist Spotlights - little interviews and favoured work by our very own artists. This week, we sit down with Mihela, piercer and body modification artist, to talk about how she got into piercing, and where she sees it heading in the future.
1. How long have you been piercing, and how did you get into it?
I have been piercing for a total of 8 years, and I have been with I-Kandy for 7 of those years. I've had a strong interest in body modification ever since I can remember. I was probably nine or ten years old the first time I walked by a tattoo shop with my mom in Hamilton Ontario. I remember being completely awestruck by the woman standing outside smoking. I had never seen anyone who looked remotely like her before. She had two full sleeves and a pink mohawk, and a bunch of nose and lip piercings. I thought she was the most awesome looking person I had ever seen, and in that moment I decided I wanted to look like she did one day. Once I was old enough to start getting pierced and tattooed, my interest in body modification continued to grow with every modification I got. I found that the people I met within the industry were generally much more opened minded and accepting than the people I grew up with, and I began to feel increasingly more drawn to and comfortable within the body mod community. At this time in my life I was on a quest for self discovery and self acceptance, and body mod helped me immensely with that. It seemed natural to me that I should pursue a career within the industry, and to this day I can't really imagine myself doing anything else. Getting into piercing was rather tough actually. People in this industry don't like to give away their hard earned knowledge easily, for free, or to the undeserving. And understandably so. I think it was probably equal parts determination, dedication and plain old luck that got me where I am today. It took a while for the my opportunity to present itself, and once I landed an apprenticeship, it was gruelling to say the least. Now that I know what it takes to make it in this industry, i'm just as protective of my skills and knowledge as my mentors were. In the end it was all very much worth it though. I doubt there is a job out there I could love more than the one I have.
2. What interests you/do you enjoy most about piercing?
Piercing and tattooing are my favourite forms of self expression. My own body modifications are so important to me. They mark many important experiences and milestones in my life, they have helped me heal emotional pain, and they are one of the very few things in life that no one can ever take away from me. Modifying myself has allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin, and it has facilitated a lot of personal growth throughout the years. I think there is so much power in body modification. So to answer your question, what I enjoy most about piercing is enabling people to have the transformative experiences that I have had through body modification.
3. Piercing has changed a lot over the years, from simple ear and nostril piercings to dermals and more extreme mods. What are your favourite newer piercings to do?
It's kind of hard to pick favourites actually. I can honestly say I'm just as happy to pierce an earlobe or a nostril as I am a more technical ear project, septum or microdermal. I love it all. I'd say that microdermals have been a real point of interest for me throughout my career, simply because they weren't around yet when I first started piercing. I have seen the evolution of the microdermal from it's primitive prototype, to the elegant and sophisticated little piece of jewellery that it is today, which is pretty awesome to be able to say. I spent a huge amount of time over the years perfecting the method I use to pierce them. I will take this opportunity to say that good piercers test nearly all of their methods and techniques on themselves before anyone else, so not only do we know exactly how what we do to our clients feels, but we are very confident that the way we do things works best. We learn through our own painful and extensive trial and error periods, as well as those of our peers. Hopefully that gives everyone some extra confidence in their piercer. We really take what we do very seriously. We're very committed to perfecting our craft.
4. For many, piercing is a spiritual/creative experience. Tell us a bit about the ritual side of piercing, and what that means to you.
As I said before I think piercing is incredibly transformative and transcendent. It can be used to heal emotional pain, to mark rights of passage, to adorn and express oneself, to connect oneself back to their body and spirit...what people gain from modifying themselves varies as much as the people themselves do. Most of my own modifications have a spiritual aspect to them, but some of them don't, and that's okay too. Body mods are wildly individual, the reasons for getting them endlessly diverse, and the possibilities limitless. The beauty and the spirituality of body modification comes from this freedom.
5. What does the future of piercing look like to you?
Piercing has already come so far in terms of techniques, health and safety advancements, and various technologies in the jewellery and tools that we use now. Things are just going to keep getting better and better. We keep learning and we keep pushing industry standards higher. We keep innovating and redesigning. There are several piercers out there working with Health Canada, trying to bring more regulation to the industry, as it's currently still self regulated. Stricter regulation is imperative to build and maintain a safe, thriving industry, and we are definitely getting closer to achieving that goal. At the moment, it's still important for people to do their research and find a clean, reputable shop and a piercer they trust before getting any work done. I'm hopeful that in the future, people will be able to trust the industry more freely due to increased regulation.