Ambient Logo Carved in Stone

Learning How to Pierce

Henna Hand

(Written Word)
(Professional Resources)

"Do whatever you have to to change society, to change stuff around body image and beauty. But don't bother me right now beacuse I have to do what I am doing simply to get control of my life. That is the bottom line."
from Beauty Secrets: Women and the Politics of Appearance by Wendy Chapkis
It seems that not a week goes by without someone asking "How do I learn to pierce?" so here's our recommendations and a list of resources both on and off the Net. Many of the non-net resources may seem to be pricey, but if you intend on piercing, its the least you can do for your health and that of your clients. Even if you intend to pierce only yourself or a partner, take the steps to get informed- it can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved, and avoid tragedy.
If you wish to be a professional piercer, finding a reputable piercer to apprentice you is your best bet- watching multiple piercings, and eventually helping is invaluable.


You don't have to be a doctor or nurse to do body piercing, but some formal training is important. Following a First Aid and CPR course should be your first step. Consider looking up your local college and taking an anatomy course. Studying an anatomy text (or CDRom) is also useful to help familiarize yourself with the body. Keep in mind, though, that anatomy varies from person to person, and there's no substitute for experience.

Beyond that, there are three courses of which I am aware and can recommend: The Fakir Intensives, Health Educators Inc pre-apprenticeship sessions, and Stainless Studio's program. Fakir's course is just outside of San Francisco, Stainless Studios is in Toronto, Canada, Professional Piercing and Information Services offers an excellent intensive pre-apprenticeship program, and Health Educators travel around the world offering courses at conventions and shops. Completing any course is by no means adequate on its own, but it certainly does give you a strong foundation and a nifty piece of paper to hang on your wall. It also is a way of demonstrating to future employers and clients that you care enough about the art to spend time and money learning.


If you can find one at your local underground or adult video store, I have found the Pierce with a Pro videos offered by Gauntlet to be informative. There are two: one for men's piercings and one for unisex and female piercings. I would recommend picking up the women's first, since it contains information on the navel piercing amongst others. You certainly get your money's worth on both. Remember, though, that these are somewhat outdated and not current with the latest infection-control procedures. They do give a good grounding on preparation, suggested jewellery, cleanliness, procedure, and aftercare.
I had the pleasure of viewing another video entitled Learn to Pierce put out by Belly Button Piercing in Florida. While it doesn't show as many piercings the basic concepts are sound, and its easier to find than the Gauntlet productions. It's certainly a good start! Every other piercing video I have seen I wouldn't reccommend except for horror-value.

The Written Word

The Pierce with a Pro articles in PFIQ were always invaluable for the learner. Each PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly) contains one article with step by step procedures and hints, as well as other articles for fans and pros alike. Unfortunately since Gauntlet went bankrupt, finding back-issues of PFIQ is quite challenging. Also, new developments in the field make mauch of the information in the articles outdated. But reading them can really be useful to get a sense of the procedure.
Subscribing to the APP's (Association of Professional Piercers) The Point is a great way of keeping abreast of developments as well as supporting a good cause.
While it is lacking in technical detail, Body Play magazine covers the more spiritual and cultural side ov body art and modification. This is always a great background to have!
Modern Primitives doesn't tell one much about piercing, but does include the infamous "historical" backgroud for piercings as well as being a "Whos Who" of body modification.
Piercing World and The Eye of the Needle are a bit scary. Simplistic descriptions of each piercing have been featured (written by Mr Sebastien, RIP), but procedurals are lacking. Also included are some incredibly severe piercings not advisable for any but the most experienced piercer or doctor.

Online Resources

The rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ is your best bet, followed by a visit to BME (Body Modification Ezine), and dropping by the APP's web site as well.
Take a look at the pictures on reputable piercers' sites: these can often offer ideas for placement and appropriate jewellery selection.
Ask questions in the rec.arts.bodyart newsgroup, too. Its a great way of meeting like-minded people, making contacts, and keeping uptodate on the latest developments in the evolution of the art.

We are not medical professionals. Any serious health concern should be addressed by your doctor.
Information is free, but please respect the effort we've put into these pages and the wishes of our clients.
Do not use the articles or images on the Ambient Inc. pages without permission and giving proper credit.

©1996-2000 Ambient Inc. | Feedback

You think YOUR job is a pain?