Needle Talk - Nicole / Love Hate Social Club November 14, 2016 09:00

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.

It’s been a while since the last Issue of Needle Talk but we have a great interview this month with Nicole, from the world famous Love Hate Social Club. Part of an international family of tattoo studios (NYC/Miami/Cork-Ireland) owned by celebrity tattoo artist Ami James (Miami Ink / New York Ink).

Nicole has had an interest in body modification ever since seeing the Lizard man's split tongue on TV as a child and “always wanted to be something a little other than human”. But her obsession with the body modification industry really blossomed from her experience of working at a studio in Camden, London at the age of 19 (who’s owner was her Mum's friend, cool Mum or what!).

Aside from piercing Nicole regularly visits friends in California, and during her last visit made a personal achievement of attending the APP Conference for the first time. She has a passion for movies, books and tattoo collecting. She also has an interest in Psychology, Philosophy and “…weird creepy stuff like death n stuff”. Definitely an interesting person to have a conversation with whilst getting pierced.

Love Hate Social Club, the studio at which Nicole is head piercer, opened it's doors in 2012 in the respectful area of Notting Hill, London. Nicole joined the team in 2015 and has loved every minute of it. The studio exclusively stocks high quality, internally threaded & threadless jewellery from the top companies in the USA, as well as implant grade titanium the studio also stock a huge range of handmade solid gold jewellery. So you have an excellent choice whether you are aiming for a classic polished titanium look or fancy something with a bit more sparkle Nicole & Love Hate Social Club have you covered.

Enough of the introduction, here is Nicole’s interview. Enjoy.

Leah Portrait

Emba Mods: Who are you?
Nicole: My name is Nicole.

Emba Mods: Where do you work?
Nicole: Love Hate Social Club in London, UK

Emba Mods: When did you get your first body mod and what was it?
Nicole: Depends what you class as a 'body mod'. I'll go with getting my ears pierced at around 6 years old. I begged my mum to let me get them pierced as for some reason I was under the impression you needed them pierced to get married. (That ambition has deteriorated with maturity...)

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

Emba Mods: How long have you been a Body Piercer?
Nicole: 4 years

Emba Mods: What do you love the most about your job?
Nicole: I love working with such amazing companies like Body Vision who make such spectacular jewellery. I love making people happy by helping to decorate them; to make them feel good about themselves. To help transform the way they look into something they love. Makin' em fancy! I have some regular clients who I absolutely adore (you know who you are!). We have a lot of fun coming up with new things and collaborating on ideas.  I love working at Love Hate too. I work with some of the most awesome people! I love going to work. You don't hear everyone say that...

Emba Mods: What would you be if you weren't a Body Piercer?
Nicole: Not a clue. I really love movies though. Perhaps something to do with that. I do have a lot of other interests but nothing I could pinpoint as a career. I think I'm pretty alright being a piercer for the moment!

Emba Mods: Do you do your own body mods?
Nicole: I've done quite a few piercings on myself, most I have kept but some I have retired either because I changed my mind or I only did it for the fun of it! I don't imagine doing many more. I love to see how other piercers work so would love the opportunity to be pierced by some of those I admire. Plus it's usually quite difficult piercing yourself - very slow and tricky to see all the angles!

Nicole Piercings Image1

Emba Mods: What is your favourite piercing to do?
Nicole: I love doing ear projects and arrangements. It's a fun little piercing playground. Endless combos and jewellery options for different anatomy and styles. But I love to do anything that garners an ecstatic reaction from the client! Be it a new piercing or a jewellery revamp. I like doing all piercings pretty much. (Even septums! Love a good septum!)

Emba Mods: What is your least favourite piercing to do?
Nicole: Hmmm. Not really.. Not a huge fan of surface anchors as they do not typically last long. I prefer to do piercings that have greater longevity. It's sad when something doesn't work out or last long. Although, better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all, so they say..?

Emba Mods: Are there any body mods you want to do but haven't done yet?
Nicole: Not really anything specific. I would love to do certain jewellery combinations and little projects. And come up with cool jewellery sets. I really love when someone comes in with little to no piercings, and we build everything up from scratch. That goes for body and facial piercings, not just ears!

Emba Mods: Do you prefer projects or individual piercings/mods?
Nicole: Projects! More is always better. Everyone usually comes back for more. I have clients who have sworn no more, they are complete! And then come back the next week for just a little something else... Even if they really are done with new piercings, bring on the jewellery sets! For every occasion!!

Nicole Piercing Image2

Emba Mods: Whose work in the body modification industry inspires you?
Nicole: Oh my. There are many people who inspire me for different reasons. Here are my favourites. My good friends Mara and Ian inspire me daily with their beautiful piercings and work ethic;

Ash, Mike and Dave are my homegrown superstars.
Brett Perkins is a wonder and I admire him immensely.
Josh Campbell is bloody brilliant.
• I drool over Perry M Doig's work all day everyday.
Kyle Rasmussen is a damn genius, every thing he does looks like it was simply made to be there.

I adore the work of;
Cassi Lopez
Luis Garcia
Jesus Cabanas (Sala)
Noah Babcock
Zach Torrin
Whitney Thompson

Phew. Can you imagine me doing an Oscar speech? Holy Hell.

Emba Mods: What has been your strangest request?
Nicole: Depends on what you find strange! From recent memory... a gentleman inquired a few months ago about wanting a series of surface bars around his genitalia. I say inquired. I mean begged me to do it. I informed him I didn't think it would work out so well. Said gentleman wasn't too happy but stopped asking (eventually). I thought that was a bit of an unusual one. Other than that, not too much to report! Oh, except maybe a surface anchor on the Achilles tendon. Ouch. Didn't do that one either.

Emba Mods: What is the most regular piercing you get asked for?
Nicole: Ear piercings, by a landslide. Mostly ear lobes (including the exotic 'upper lobe', ooh) and rim/helix. Daith piercings are still going strong. Have done a fair few eyebrows recently! They're making a comeback (maybe).

Emba Mods: What is the most un-common piercing you get asked for?
Nicole: I don't get a lot of requests at all for stretching piercings as of late, or for jewellery for stretched piercings. Which is ac shame as there are so many beautiful and unique options for jewellery out there!

Emba Mods: Do you have any studio rituals?
Nicole: Not really. It's a constant ongoing cycle of cleaning, checking stock, replying to emails and messages, making sure all is in order, gazing into the jewellery cabinets... It never stops. Ever.

Nicole Studio Image1

Emba Mods: Do any body mods freak/creep you out?
Nicole: No.. Not a big fan of implants of any kind though. I like to be able to keep whatever I have under control and within easy reach.

Emba Mods: What are your thoughts on the CIEH (Chartered Institute for Environmental Health) tattoo & body piercing rating scheme?
Nicole: It's fantastic to have higher standards of basic health and safety, however, especially with governmental bodies there can sometimes be misconceptions or merely ignorance towards other aspects of the job. Something like this should not be the only thing piercers should aim for, and the public should be looking out for other things too when choosing an artist/piercer. Simply because someone can meet minimum health and safety requirements does not necessarily mean they can provide the best service. There are multiple facets to be considered.

Emba Mods: What irritates you about the industry?
Nicole: It upsets me that there are still piercers doing consistently unethical things and putting out low quality work and jewellery and are still in business. And I wish there was a bit more regulation in terms of health and safety via the local government.

Emba Mods: Any news in the industry that excites you?
Nicole: The advancement of the UKAPP is a great thing. I attended the UKAPP seminars this past September which was a great learning experience for myself and many others. It's amazing to see such unity within our industry and a real desire to up the standards in the UK. It is also a great way to help educate and better serve the public necessity to have a safer piercing experience. The UKAPP was formed by piercers, so have the best interests of the industry and public at heart.

Emba Mods: Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
Nicole: For me, it's a full time dedication. You must put your all into everything you do. If you don't aim to be the best and provide the best, what's the point? And I think that's vital in offering any kind of professional service. You've gotta be up for it! And always ready to learn and adapt and develop. Be obsessed. Be driven. And be darn good at it.

Emba Mods: What are your industry predictions in the coming years?
Nicole: It seems to be getting better and better, with more and more people wanting gorgeous jewellery and gradually grasping a better understanding of body piercing as beautiful modification and form of decoration. It's much more mainstream and accepted; with social media platforms like Instagram being a huge part of the spread of info and social desire. The majority of my clients are women in their late 20s to 40s getting multiple piercings which I find great. Hopefully soon enough there will be no one left using cheap externally threaded jewellery and we can stop pulling it out of poorly done piercings!

Nicole Studio Image2

Emba Mods: Any advice for people thinking of getting body mods/piercings?
Nicole: It's usually best to figure out a plan of what you want to do presently and in the future so not to hinder any further possibilities of other mods/piercings. Check the piercer's portfolio, ask to see some healed examples of work. Ask about the jewellery used; implant grade materials and jewellery finish are very important. Ask questions! Never go ahead with anything if you feel unsure or uncomfortable. Try and enjoy the entire process. Keep breathing.

Emba Mods: Where can people find you?
Nicole: I update my Instagram almost daily with piercing and jewellery photos. My Facebook, not so often but I reply to messages there ASAP...

Emba Mods: Any final words?
Nicole: You are what you create. Don't hold back!