Shortly after the article went live my phone was bombarded with texts, messages from social media friends, and phone calls. This let me know two things: 1) people actually do read articles in their entirety, and 2) I have a large group of friends and peers who care about me. After twenty-four hours, I took down the part of the announcement that said I was leaving the industry. There were just too many phone calls, and too many messages asking what I was doing next, and I just wasn’t ready to answer everyone yet. With that said, I would like to take this opportunity announce officially that my time at Infinite has come to an end, and after I leave I won’t be immediately taking a position at another piercing studio.
The word “retirement” and the phrase “leaving the industry” are awfully strong. When I think of retiring, I see images of cubicles and people in suits and ties bringing a crappy grocery store cake to the office to wish farewell to a co-worker they never knew or cared about. This isn’t at all what is happening in my case. My leaving Infinite is not me leaving the piercing industry, or me “retiring.” I have put in far too many hours working, volunteering, teaching, and mentoring, and made far too many sacrifices—gave up a career as a baker and pastry chef, undergoing a very traditional and intense apprenticeship, spending any little bit of any extra money I had to travel and learn under other practitioners long before the internet—to just walk away and call it quits. What I am doing is taking a step back and taking some time to focus on me, to see what it is I really want to do with this game called life and my time in it.
Looking back, I’ve accomplished a lot over the last fifteen-plus years in the piercing industry:
- I have been a member of the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) since 2006.
- I am a proud member of the LBP (Latin American Body Piercing Association)
- I was an Al D. scholarship recipient at the APP Conference & Exposition in 2003.
- I have volunteered every year at the APP Annual Conference & Exposition, as well as volunteered for the APP at various medical and public health conferences since 2004.
- I was an APP board member from 2008 to 2011.
- I started the APP membership committee in 2009, and served on it till 2012. The committee is still active to this day.
- I was a founding member of (and am still active in) the APP Conference Committee.
- I have taught many classes (in both English and Spanish) for the APP, covering subjects from studio setup and documentation to cross-contamination prevention. I’ve focused mostly on technique classes since 2007.
- I have taught classes in Mexico City and Tlaxcala, Mexico for what is now the LBP starting in 2008.
- I was the recipient of the APP’s Josh Prentice award in 2009, and the Beto Madrigal award from the LBP in 2015. Both of these awards were for my dedication and contributions to the piercing industry
- I have worked (and/or been a guest piercer) at many of the United State’s top studios, as well as some amazing studios in Mexico City.
- I have been able to travel all over the country, working at and visiting studios.
- I have made many lifelong friends.
There are many people I would like to thank for their guidance, mentorship, help, and for all-around being good friends and amazing people. First and foremost are Byriah Dailey and Steve Joyner. Thank you both for bringing me into this industry, for showing me how to pierce, and for making me the person I am today. Thank you to Jason King, owner of 23rd Street Body Piercing; Curt Warren, owner of Koi Piercing Studio; and George Burns, Josh Bryant, and Benjamin Overton from High Priestess for trusting in me and offering me full-time employment with your studios. Working for all of you helped mold the way I do things, and shaped my perspective on my career. Lastly, I would like to thank James Weber for the last four years. Working at Infinite was a dream come true, as well as the icing on the cake of what has been an amazing career. You have been one of the best employers I have ever had and I look forward to returning to our regular friendship now that this chapter has ended.
Thank you also to the following shop owners who opened your doors to me as a guest: Patrick McCarthy, owner of Piercology in Columbus, OH; Darren Walters, owner of Blue Star Tattoo and Piercing in Concord, CA; Pineapple, owner of Shaman Modifications in Austin, TX; Keith Crolmen, owner of Cow Pok in Buffalo, NY; Rion Wickersham, co-owner of Deep Roots in Seattle, WA; Didier Suarez, owner of Enigma Professional Piercing in San Diego, CA; and Bethra Szumski, owner of Virtue and Vice in Atlanta, GA. In addition to these shops in the United States, I would like to thank two studio owners in Mexico for allowing me to pierce in their studios: Danny Yerna of Wankantanka and Charlie Pastrana of Sacred Symbols, both in Mexico City. Thanks to you all for making me feel like family.
So now the million-dollar question is: Whats next? The most honest answer I can give is: I have no idea. I know that piercing full time at one studio is not likely to happen in any foreseeable future.
I will, after a small break, cover shifts from time to time at Infinite. I will probably travel and take some guest spots, and I will continue to educate piercing practitioners that want to learn and or share information. As for the rest of my time, I am likely going go back to school and “get my learn on” until I can figure out what is now going to be the new rest of my life.
A million thanks, hugs, and praises to everyone who I shared a positive experience with, thanks to everyone who challenged me, thanks to everyone who taught and shared anything with me. Most of all, thank you body piercing for helping me find myself, and for providing me with an amazing career and life.