Needle Talk - Dan Walters/Physical Graffiti October 20, 2015 08:30 1 Comment

Welcome to Needle Talk our brand new 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.

We've a great list of piercers and body modification artists lined up in the next couple of months and if you would like to see your piercer or body mod artist featured then get it touch, we'd love to hear from you.

Our first interview is with the lovely Dan Walters at Physical Graffiti tattoo studio in Cardiff, Wales. The shop opened in 2006 and quickly became well renowned for producing award winning tattoos. Dan was later welcomed to the shop as their resident piercer and has been making a name for himself ever since. Dan is known for his ability to make his customers feel at ease and always endeavours to make every experience as enjoyable as possible. As well as piercing, Dan also holds an impressive portfolio of scarification, branding and laser tattoo removal.

Dan Walter Portrait

Emba Mods: Who are you?
Dan: Dan Walters

Emba Mods: Where do you work?
Dan: I work at Physical Graffiti tattoo studio in Cardiff land. 

Emba Mods: When did you get your first body mod and what was it?
Dan: My first body mod was my standard ear lobe piercings at 8 years old. At the time it was a bit controversial as to which side you had pierced as it somehow reflected your sexuality!

Emba Mods: What job title do you give yourself?
Dan: Body piercer - plain and simple.

Emba Mods: How long have you been a piercer?
Dan: I'm in my 6th year now.

Emba Mods: What do you love the most about your job?
Dan: Honestly, all of it. Everything I do every single day. I couldn't explain why, I just enjoy doing it. The people make the job enjoyable. I get to chat to a lot of people, it's usually nervous chat, but it's chat. I meet people from all walks of life and all different ages. 

Emba Mods: What would you be if you weren't a piercer?
Dan: If I wasn't working in this industry I'd be working in the transport industry. I love driving, even being stuck in traffic!

Emba Mods: Do you do your own mods?
Dan: Up to a point yes, if i can clearly see what I'm doing. For example I couldn't pierce my own neck as I couldn't see it. I couldn't pierce my face (skin diver) either as everything is backwards in a mirror! But if I can clearly see then yes, if it's inaccessible then no.

Emba Mods: What is your favourite piercing to do?
Dan: I really enjoy doing daith piercings. I like the piercing as there's just enough of a technical element involved and I like the look of them when they're in. Each one I pierce is different and you've got to work out the best way to do it.

Emba Mods: What is your least favourite piercing to do?
Dan: My least favorite piercing to do is the triple forward helix. It's not do with the piercing itself, it's trying to tell people that they don't have the anatomy for the piercing. You have to explain to people that their ear may not have the right shape and there's only a handful of people with suitable anatomy to get it done.

Emba Mods: Are there any body mods you want to do but haven't done yet?
Dan: I would like to do more vertical nipple piercings. I've only ever been asked for one and it's the only one I've done.

Emba Mods: Do you prefer projects or individual piercings?
Dan: Genuinely I don't have a preference. I do enjoy a good ear project as I like to help people realize their vision. But I love individual piercings too. I enjoy what I do so whether it's a big project or single piercing you'll still get the same level of service from me.

Dan Piercing Examples

Emba Mods: Whose work in the body modification industry inspires you?
Dan: That's hard as it's a big industry now. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Edd Fleming. He was my guide and mentor and after six months with him, five years ago, I still learn from him now, and he learns from me. I really enjoy the work of Samppa Von Cyborg and Steve Haworth. Also a chap who has passed on a lot of knowledge to me is Nick Pinch. I really admire his work and he's a nice guy.

Emba Mods: What has been your strangest request?
Dan: A chap came in wanting his guiche pierced. But he arrived on a motorbike wearing tight power ranger style racing leathers. I told him it probably wasn't a good idea to get it done today based on his current clothing and method of transport! Best part about the story is he went and got it done anyway.

Emba Mods: What is the most regular piercing you get asked for?
Dan: Popular piercings change all the time for me. Currently it's nipple piercings and it's a daily occurrence right now. Two months back it was basic nostril piercings; to the point where I was running out of jewellery every week.

Emba Mods: What is the most uncommon piercing you get asked for?
Dan: I really like the vertical nipple piercing; I've only ever done one. I also like the bridge piercing and I've done two so far.

Emba Mods: Do you have any studio rituals?
Dan: No, not really we are quite boring! Sounds terrible but no we don't there's nothing in particular no OCD or anything.

Emba Mods: Do any body mods freak/creep you out?
Dan: No. There are things out there that I think may be pushing the envelope but at the end of the day it's a personal choice. Once you've seen it all you've seen it all. There's plenty of bizarre shit out there.

Emba Mods: What are your thoughts on the CIEH (Chartered Institute for Environmental Health) tattoo & body piercing rating scheme?
Dan: I'm not sure how it's going to work. If it's working purely on cleanliness I don't think it's right as you could have the cleanest studio in the world but not be a capable piercer. How would they rate it? Based on your ability? There are no set guidelines on how to perform certain piercings and yes you can see a bad piercing but with most piercings it's hard to differentiate. For example you can look at various tattoos and if you're in the industry you can tell whose done the tattoo but you can't tell with a piercing just by looking. What I'm saying is who gives these ratings? Would they use a perceived industry expert to rate each artist out there? Some people like big bright white studios which will get a 5 star rating but it does not reflect the piercer’s ability. Even if they checked out your jewellery quality/needle suppliers that could make a difference.

Emba Mods: What irritates you about the industry?
Dan: People believing it's easy. Arguments over pricing are difficult and I think this is really a geographic thing. You can walk into a studio in Bristol and they will charge £25 for a piercing and no one bats an eyelid. In Cardiff the price could be £20 and they (customers) will argue about it. A lot of piercers stock high end jewelry and they do ok with it. Here I would struggle to shift that jewellery as we don't always have the specific demographic willing to pay extra for it.

Emba Mods: Any news in the industry that excites you?
Dan: There is nothing that jumps out but it's constantly evolving. There are always people working on new types of jewellery. For example we have QualiTi bringing us quality jewellery at great prices. I think the jewellery they're putting out there is on a par with the big players but for a fraction of the price.

Emba Mods: Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
Dan: It's not easy. Don't expect to get rich. Be willing to learn ALWAYS. Once you think you know it all that's when you start to fail. It's a constantly evolving industry and you have to be willing to constantly learn. You are constantly learning and adapting and there is always something new you can learn from others.

Emba Mods: What are your industry predictions for the coming years?
Dan: It has to be internally threaded jewellery all the way. It's been standard practice in US for years. But it's easier to sell externally threaded jewellery in UK as we use cannula needles that work easily with externally threaded jewellery. I think it won't be long before externally threaded jewellery is phased out all together.

Emba Mods: Any advice for people thinking of getting body mods/piercings?
Dan: Think about it. It may not be as permanent as a tattoo but it will still leave a mark. Always be sure.

Emba Mods: Where can people find you?

Emba Mods: Any final words?
Dan: Stay in school kids and don't do drugs.