Needle Talk - Ben Lean / Brook Street Tattoo May 17, 2016 11:38
Welcome to Needle Talk our monthly blog series that tells you everything you need to know about yours, and our, favourite piercers and body modification artists.
Ever wondered what your piercers first body mod was? Or what their strangest request has been? This is your time to find out. This series will be a monthly dose of all things modified and a chance to get to know the people behind the needle.
If you would like to see your piercer or body mod artist featured then get it touch, we'd love to hear from you.
This instalment of Needle Talk is with Ben Lean, Body Piercer at Brook Street Tattoo in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. A two man operation the studio opened in 2011.
Outside of the industry, Ben is a keen darts player and drummer both of which "he takes very seriously but not as seriously as body piercing!".
Ben says that he likes working in Wakefield because its "a real mix of ethnicities and class's. In the suburbs you can walk through council estates then 5 minutes time be in a square with expensive Victorian town houses". He calls Wakefield "A real melting pot of styles and culture, you really don’t know who’s coming in the shop next and for what, it’s great!"
This is Ben's interview, enjoy.
Emba Mods: Who are you?
Ben: My names Ben Lean or some people call me Blean, hence Bleanpiercing.
Emba Mods: Where do you work?
Ben: I work at Brook Street Tattoo in Wakefield, with my good buddy and boss Matt Hudson.
Emba Mods: When did you get your first body mod and what was it?
Ben: I was visiting my Dad in Bristol when I was 14. I’d been begging my mother for years to let me have a piercing and my Dad decided it was worth the ear-ache and finally took me. I had two studs in my left ear lobe and thought I was bad-ass!.
Emba Mods: What job title do you give yourself?
Ben: Depends who's asking really. Usually I just say I’m a professional piercer. That’s usually followed by a look of bemusement and the question "oh, so you don’t tattoo at all?" haha.
Emba Mods: How long have you been a body piercer?
Ben: In August this year I'll have been piercing for 5 years! I’m still a baby in the industry with a long way to go.
Emba Mods: What do you love the most about your job?
Ben: The absolute best part is helping someone get through a difficult procedure. I’m not talking heavy mods or anything like that, a lot of people find the simplest of piercings really nerve racking and when I can take someone through that journey, make it easy and hopefully enjoyable for them then that’s what I really enjoy. You can see a client’s whole demeanour change in the space of 20mins, from uncertainty and fear to positive and confident, all from pushing a needle through someone, it's amazing really :)
Emba Mods: What would you be if you weren't a piercer?
Ben: More than likely still homeless, single and on the dole haha. This industry is the only thing that really gets me off my arse and thinking straight! The people you meet, the friends you make and the things you learn, there’s nothing else that really compares to it.
Emba Mods: Do you do your own body mods?
Ben: No, I’ve pierced myself a handful of times but nothing remains that I have done. I prefer collecting, and I find it really hard work to pierce myself!
Emba Mods: What is your favourite piercing to do?
Ben: I think I go through phases, when I decided to start using freehand techniques to cut down on tool usage it was like I whole new world! Suddenly the most common piercings like nose's and lips became really fun. I do enjoy a good Daith piercing though!
Emba Mods: What is your least favourite piercing to do?
Ben: Tongues! Never been a massive fan, they move and are wet.
Emba Mods: Are there any body mods you want to do but haven't done yet?
Ben: Definitely! At the moment I don’t offer a full range of genital piercings so in the future I’m looking to shadow someone or take an advanced genital (piercing) course. Also I’ve been dying to do some more custom scaffolds!
Emba Mods: Do you prefer projects or individual piercings?
Ben: I prefer whatever the client loves. I always try and voice my opinion, like this would look neat here or your anatomy would suit this. But at the end of the day it’s the clients choice and as long as their happy, I’m happy.
Emba Mods: Whose work in the body modification industry inspires you?
Ben: There are so many amazing artists working these days it’s hard to say were I draw inspiration from. As a kid my Dad showed me Mac 'DR EVIL' McCarthy's work and that really got me interested. I’ve been following him ever since and a few years ago I got to meet him for the first time. (Big fanboy moment haha) I’ve got a few pieces off Nicholas Pinch who I massively look up to along with other UK artists like:
• Paddy (Kielty)
• Nicole Holmes
• Kim Hutchinson
• Aiden Johnson
• Alan Kubasik
Then there’s the guys in the USA like:
• J.C. Potts
• Jef Saunders
• Ryan Oullette
• Elayne Angel
The list is endless and always growing!
Emba Mods: What has been your strangest request?
Ben: Erm, I’ve done a few micro dermals on shins and found that a bit weird. They look pretty cool though!
Emba Mods: What is the most regular mod/piercing asked for?
Ben: Haha I think everyone’s over run by Daiths these days. I’m not going to go into it but I’ve been doing loads! p.s. no they don’t cure migraines!
Emba Mods: What is the most uncommon mod/piercing asked for?
Ben: Eyebrows! Once upon a time they were the in thing and somehow they seem to have fallen of the face of the earth.
Emba Mods: Do you have any studio rituals?
Ben: Black coffee! Every morning before I do the cleaning dance around my piercing room and pray to the piercing Gods in front of the autoclave alter haha.
Emba Mods: Do any body mods freak/creep you out?
Ben: I haven’t come across one yet! I saw a face lift procedure on TV once. The surgeon had had lifted the skin from the clients skull, a lot like when people make a fistula for subdermals and he had his fingers in there moving it around. That was a bit shocking at first but like most things become really interesting after the initial shock.
Emba Mods: What are your thoughts on the CIEH (Chartered Institute for Environmental Health) tattoo & body piercing rating scheme?
Ben: I think it’s a step in the right direction at the very least. I doubt it will fix our problems entirely, like hacks and underage piercing. It might just encourage people like that to become a bit more hygienic just for the rating. Which I guess isn’t a bad thing but like I said it’s not a complete problem solver.
Emba Mods: What irritates you about the industry?
Ben: Underage piercing, studio politics and just all round bad piercers. I mean how many towns have their local hack that’s somehow been there for years and still making money. Just take pride in what you do man there’s no point in doing anything at all if it’s not done right!
Emba Mods: Any news in the industry that excites you?
Ben: The UKAPP is a huge step forward! And it’s just snowballing at the moment, getting bigger and better and it’s great to be able to interact with a whole conglomerate of piercers and suppliers that are all making a group effort to get our industry to where we think it should be. Watch this space because shits gonna get real haha!
Emba Mods: Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
Ben: Just be sensible and work hard, I prefer apprenticeships to get you started. I don’t see how you’re expected to learn the skills you need to learn in a week or two week course to set you up for a lifelong career in piercing. To me it’s not feasible and makes it look like a profession you can just tick off on a list when in reality it’s a lifelong learning process. There’s a saying about the game of darts I think sums it up. "It takes a day to learn how to play, but a lifetime to master." Be humble, safe and never do anything without thinking it through. The day you become complaisant is the day you start to mess things up.
Emba Mods: What are your industry predictions in the coming years?
Ben: In all honesty I couldn’t tell you haha! There are so many amazing things happening all over the world in both the medical industry and in ours. I’m going to keep my head down, learn as much as possible, improve my skills and see what comes along first. Whatever is going to happen will no doubt be awesome!
Emba Mods: Any advice for people thinking of getting body mods/piercings?
Ben: Research your artist! Ask to see examples of healed work and if you have a question, even if to you it may sound silly, just ask! Any piercer, mod artist or even tattooist worth their salt shouldn’t have a problem with answering your questions.
Emba Mods: Where can people find you?
Ben: or you can shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Emba Mods: Any final words?
Ben: Thank you for letting me chat with you guys! Love the work you do! And I hope everyone has a killer 2016, summer is nearly here!