This girl is stunning and I’m glad to have met her this year and now consider her a friend.  She has worked on the “Wild Girls” calendar this year and hopefully I’m going to persuade her to do her first Burlesque show in 2012 too.  Very exciting – major girl crush!  Enjoy this interview of Nikki Needles, professional piercer at Lifestyle Tattoo & Piercing.  xxx

What does a girl like you on a normal day “at work”?
Haha there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ day Body Piercing! But I spend my days at work running our Tattoo Studio behind the scenes & Piercing anyone who wants a hole put in them “)  I pierce anything & everything!

How did you get into the industry and what made you decide this is what you wanted to make a living out of?
I had a relatively easy entry into the Tattoo industry, I was lucky as it’s a hard industry to break into if you don’t know anyone already in the industry prepared to help you out.  My hubby is a Tattooist, so we decided to take the plunge and open our own business together – Lifestyle Tattoo & Piercing – this way the standards are up to our high standards and we have complete control over our future & our work environment.  No one tells us what we can & can’t do anymore!  Piercings & Tattoos go nicely hand in hand, and I wanted an extra way to bring income into the Studio – so I went and did a Body Piercing course with Shane from Streetwise – and the rest is history!!

What tips would you give new others who might be interested in a similar career?
DEFINITELY suck it up and pay the money to do a Piercing course and learn to pierce correctly!!  Anyone can pierce at the end of the day, but to pierce correctly, correct placements, measurements etc etc is a skill that I highly recommend you learn.  It’s also VERY important to learn health & hygiene & cross-contamination – another thing you won’t know if you’re self taught – no-one wants to go to a butcher at the end of the day!!!  If I was looking to hire someone to Pierce in my Studio, it would be a MUST that they had done a Piercing course.

When did you discover there was life outside the corporate 9-5 Office grind?  Was there a specific event or epiphany that brought that about?
I’ve always known there was life outside the corporate world – I was a Sales Rep for 5 years before opening our own Studio and constantly had to hide who I really was – I was sick of being told what I could & couldn’t do in terms of my appearance – no facial piercings, no visible tattoos, no bright coloured hair, constantly hiding my chest piece etc etc.  The money was great, but the lack of freedom wasn’t.  I guess the ‘epiphany’ hit me at Hamilton Tattoo Convention – we decided if these people can do it, so can we!!  Hamilton was in February, and we opened our shop on the 1st of April this year.  It’s the BEST thing we ever did…..scary to drop a Sales Rep’s salary for no guaranteed income….but AWESOME to be able to work and spend all my time with hubby.  Work is fun now & I enjoy going to work!!

Have you ever struggled to get what you do at work or out of work taken seriously?
I hate to say it, but I think with Tattoos & Piercings it’s always hard to be taken seriously.  People do stereotype you because of them, and they always will.  I always get asked….’but what about when you’re old’…..really who lives 50-60 years of their life worrying about the last 10?? We just constantly work hard at being friendly & approachable to try & break the stereotype.

Your work is very specialized – is this something you’ve learned in an education system or did you fall into it?
I did a course to learn to Pierce, but I easily could’ve just fallen into it.  You don’t need a qualification to pierce, but learning properly definitely has it’s advantages.  Having said that, a course only really gives you the basics, so the rest I have taught myself or learned through hands-on experience.

What effect has the Internet had on the way that you work?
Internet has opened the doors to Tattooing & made it a lot easier in terms of people being able to easily find reference material instead of having to come in and look through magazines, or go to the library.  On the other hand, it’s made it much easier for people to steal ideas & copyrighted artwork.  With Piercing, I find a lot of people research the piercing beforehand, however the techniques online are often dodgy, so they come in with pre-conceived ideas of what is going to happen, which often isn’t the case.

What is the biggest, most exciting project you’ve worked on / are most proud of?
My biggest, most favourite project I have worked on with Piercings, is a beautiful forearm piece – my girlfriend had beautiful bright daisies tattooed on her forearm by Greg (hubby), and I put 4 dermals into the tattoo into the centre of the 4 biggest flowers – it looks SO amazing!!  I’m jealous….and super proud of the beautiful end result!

Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline that you would like to share with us?
Hmmm….well I’m hoping to learn Pearling soon, which is a technique where silicone or titanium balls are implanted under the skin, popular for gentials….so stay tuned!! xx

Photos Nikki and Miss T Pin-Ups
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