Needle Talk - Nici Holmes / Blue Lotus Piercing & Modification Studio February 24, 2016 08:30

Welcome to the fifth instalment of 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 is 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 coming 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.

Blue Lotus Piercing opened in 2009. The studio is the home of 2 experienced piercers (Nici & Seb) both of whom are Bloodborne Pathogen, CPR and First aid trained. Both piercers are members of the UKAPP with Nici being the President of the organisation. Along with the UKAPP both are members of the well respected and trusted APP (Association of Professional Piercers) and the first members to receive APP membership in the UK.

Nici has says she has always been interested in body piercing and modifications ever since seeing her first body suspension on 'Ripleys believe it or not' in the early 90's. 
Early in Nici's career she heard about the APP and their mission and always wondered why there was no European equivalent. Later whilst working in Belgium Nici was fortunate enough to attend the 2002 APP conference in Amsterdam. Awe struck by the attendance and level of organisation involved, Nici aspired to have her own UK APP registered studio. By the time such an opportunity presented itself Nici became the only and first (for many years) APP member in the whole country.

"I can't describe how I felt when the (APP) certificate came through the door. I jumped about a lot and even cried a little!"

After talking with a handful of fellow piercers about the lack of UK organisations that represent the body modification industry the 'Professional Piercer Meet Up group' was formed on Facebook. Initially started to gauge interest and response within the UK Body Piercing industry (which received a phenomenal response), within a matter of months the Professional Piercer Meet Up became the UKAPP (United Kingdom Association of Professional Piercers) now registered with company house London as a not-for-profit health and safety organisation. The UKAPP was Founded by Nici, her then apprentice Sebastian Wolf Pickersgill, Aiden Johnson, Kim Hutchinson, Charlie Remy LeBeau and Peter Monckton.

Whilst still in it's early stages the UKAPP is currently working on membership criteria, however one thing that many will want to know is that the UKAPP, DO approve the use of cannula needles and externally threaded jewellery (provided that the threads are covered during insertion) These are exciting times for the British Piercing industry.  

This is Nici's interview, enjoy. 

Nici Portrait

Emba Mods:  Who are you?
Nici: Mrs Nici Holmes.

Emba Mods:  Where do you work? 
Nici: Blue Lotus Piercing and Modification studio, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Emba Mods:  When did you get your first body mod and what was it? 
Nici: My first ever body modification, rather than piercing: was four surgical steel barbells inserted underneath my skin on my left hand. I did them myself when I was seventeen. Really I was just experimenting but they stayed for over ten years.

Emba Mods:  What job title do you give yourself? 
Nici: Professional body piercer.

Emba Mods:  How long have you been a piercer?
Nici: I had pierced myself from the age of fourteen but my apprenticeship started when I was seventeen so sixteen years and modifying for around ten of those.

Emba Mods:  What do you love the most about your job?
Nici: It's probably cliché but I love the people I get to meet, one day I'll have lots of students from around the world, another married couples. I had a magician, an engineer and a group of nurses in one day. It's so versatile and incredibly personal. That and the freedom it provides me to express myself and help others do the same.

Emba Mods:  What would you be if you weren't a piercer?
Nici: Id' love to say a surgeon but I know I wouldn't have stood the ten years plus of stuffy medical schooling so probably a gardener. Worlds apart to some people but both require knowledge, patience and working with your hands.

Emba Mods:  Do you do your own body mods?
Nici: I have done in the past, small implants and some scarification but it's not easy doing these things to yourself. You can't see and reach everywhere on your own body and if you could the chances are your hand won't be that steady!

Emba Mods:  What is your favourite piercing to do?
Nici: My favourite piercing at the moment (I go through phases!) are surface piercings. They are so different to execute compared with other piercings and the way body jewellery design has progressed in the last ten years. Well, it's made them much more successful.

Emba Mods:  What is your least favourite piercing to do?
Nici: My least favourite, hmm. I guess it would have to be snugs. Not so much the piercing of them, that's actually quite fun. More that people don't understand the commitment needed to heal something like this and quite often their anatomy just isn't quite right. It's so down heartening to tell someone their body won't allow it.

Emba Mods:  Are there any body mods you want to do but haven't done yet?
Nici: I'm beginning training for tongue splitting soon. That's always been up at the top of my 'to-do' list but I've been waiting for my experience in other modifications to really progress before tackling a new area. 

Emba Mods:  Do you prefer projects or individual piercings?
Nici: Most individual experiences turn into projects over time. There the ones I like the best.

Nici Piercings

Emba Mods:  Whose work in the body modification industry inspires you?
Nici: Wow, how long should this list be before it gets silly!? Ok, so:
• Samppa (Von Cyborg) 
• Steve Haworth 
• Ryan Ouellette 
• Leah Stanmore 
• Gladix Porca 
• Chai (at CALM Body Mod)
and that's just those who come to mind instantly!

Emba Mods:  What has been your strangest request? 
Nici: An old guy asked me to pierce his anus with a ring a while back, shallow too.
So he could forcibly remove it during masturbation Confused Emoji 
I kid you not!

Emba Mods:  What is the most regular piercing you get asked for? 
Nici: The most common piercing by far at the moment is the darn Daith piercing. It's a beautiful and fun piercing to do that heals well and has plenty of cool jewellery options. But I'm damn certain its medicinal applications are limited. The most regular mod I do is the finger magnet. People from a further catchment are really loving these. Even if they have no tattoos or piercings.

Emba Mods:  What is the most uncommon piercing you get asked for? 
Nici: Some of the more specialist intimate piercing's are rarely asked for. Which means they are rarer to do, meaning if you ever want something like this you must find a professional who has experience.

Emba Mods:  Do you have any studio rituals? 
Nici: When I completed my apprenticeship I was told to go in the studio and not come out till I had a piercing. Or I wouldn't ever become a good piercer - I done my Septum. I know it's superstition but I still asked my apprentice Seb to do the same thing. I think it builds character and pays homage to all those first generation piercers who could only learn by practicing on themselves. 

Nici Piercing Room

Emba Mods:  Do any body mods freak/creep you out?
Nici: Yes! - I know that if I have to ask, I'll never understand. But I just can't comprehend cutting off your nose

Emba Mods:  What are your thoughts on the CIEH (Chartered Institute for Environmental Health) tattoo & body piercing rating scheme? 
Nici: It's a great start. Ian Gray is in charge of the audit tool and is a very passionate man and only wants our industry to meet basic requirements of hygiene. However Its disappointing that there are still many studios that don't meet the lowest requirements. The rating system, however,  only marks a single moment in time. The score could be very different after a few weeks or if the staff change hands. It also doesn't address the artistic ability of studios and should come with a warning saying so.

Emba Mods:  What irritates you about the industry?
Nici: A whole pile of things but nothing that I can't see changing in time.

Emba Mods:  Any news in the industry that excites you?
Nici: YES! I'm proud to say that there is a new not for profit, health and safety organisation currently emerging. The newly formed UKAPP We have plans to unite the countries by-laws in relation to piercing, address minimum standards, offer education to professional, health care workers and the public. As well as offering a platform for UK piercers to communicate.

Emba Mods:  Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the industry? 
Nici: Make friends with your local studio, they can be your best chance at being noticed and listen to what they say. Also, be prepared to move cities or even countries.

Nici Reception

Emba Mods:  What are your industry predictions in the coming years?
Nici: Implantable technology, step counters, heart rate trackers. These may be dreams rather than predictions but 'id happily have both! 

Emba Mods:  Any advice for people thinking of getting body mods/piercings?
Nici: Try to learn from others all the possible outcomes and mentally deal with them before going ahead. Learn how to prevent problems, educate yourself. It's your body you are in charge!

Emba Mods:  Where can people find you?

Emba Mods:  Any final words?
Nikki:  Life is just a ride!