Some people are wild about body art. They become living canvases of tattoos and piercings. We were curious to find out what drives people to get such modifications.
We talked to two people who turn heads when they walk down the street because of their obsession with body art. Regina is covered in tattoos. Sam has oh-so-many piercings. What are they trying to say, and what’s it like to walk through the world in their skin?
When you become living art
Lifehack: Why did you get so many body modifications?
Regina: I’ve always liked tattoos. I’m an artist, so it fits. I didn’t intend to get so many, but I got hooked.
Sam: When I was younger, I got into metal music, and the musicians had piercings. Music was like my lifeline, and those guys were my role models. I got my labret (lip piercing) when I was 16, and I haven’t looked back.
Lifehack: What have you learned from having so much body art?
Regina: It’s OK to be different.
Sam: I’m not afraid to stand out. Whenever I go somewhere new, I always have something to talk about with people. Most people aren’t so bad.
Lifehack: How do your loved ones feel about your tattoos and piercings?
Regina: I don’t really talk to my family. By the time my friends met me, I was already inked. The tattoos were just part of the package.
Sam: My family doesn’t mind at all. My mom took me to get my first piercing. My grandparents don’t really understand why I do this to myself, but they are ok about it.
Lifehack: How many piercings/ tattoos do you have?
Regina: I have 7 piercings and 37 tattoos.
Sam: I have 30 piercings, but I’m not done yet.
Lifehack: How much do you spend on body modifications?
Regina: A lot. The key when you’re getting this much ink is to go to a good artist. My guy doesn’t pick up a tattoo gun for less than $150 an hour. The more color and detail, the more expensive it’s going to be. I have about $20,000 wrapped up in these full sleeves, and there’s still more that I want to do with them. I can only get a little work done each year because of the cost.
Sam: I got a few of these – like my ears – done for less than $50 a piercing. These dermals were $150 for the three of them. It just depends on the area.
Lifehack: What kind of identity are you expressing with your tattoos/ piercings?
Regina: I’ve always gone against the grain, so it makes sense that I’d do it with my body too. The tattoos are my way of carrying art on my body at all times.
Sam: I’m not going for a specific identity. I just don’t want to be like everyone else.
Lifehack: Do you get shunned by society? Do people give you weird looks or comments?
Regina: I definitely get looks. My first few tattoos were small, so it didn’t matter, but once I got them on my neck, people started to stare. People do say things, sometimes. Just today, a woman screamed out her car window that I needed to go to church. Go figure.
Sam: The piercings on my face and head are pretty extreme by most standards. People might stare, but this hasn’t stopped me from doing what I want to do.
Lifehack: Is it acceptable for you to have this body art at work?
Regina: The tattoos are part of my work, so it’s fine. I know if I wanted to get a job in an office, I’d have trouble.
Sam: I’m a barber at an edgy shop downtown. It’s completely acceptable there.
Lifehack: Do you need to hide your body art?
Regina: It’s a tough for me to hide them now, but when I first met my fiance’s parents, I did cover them. I was afraid they’d be alarmed by my appearance.
Sam: I can’t cover them anymore. There’d just be big holes all over my face. It looks better when they’re in. People just have to accept me.
Lifehack: Did it hurt? Which one hurt the most?
Regina: Of course it hurt! Have you ever had someone dig a needle into your skin for several hours? The tops of my feet and my rib-cage hurt the worst. It felt like the needle was hitting bones the whole time.
Sam: My nipple piercings were the worst. They hurt so freaking bad! My dermals hurt too. It was totally worth it though.
There’s more than meets the eye with body mods
We enjoyed having Sam and Regina answer our burning questions about body modifications. Our interviewees reminded us that you can’t judge a book by its cover.