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Piercing Questions Answered by Brian Keith Thompson

by Sarah Wu / Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Courtesy of Instagram /@bodyelectrictattoo

The first time we saw Brian Keith Thompson’s piercing-packed feed, we instantly fell in love with his work. From dainty cartilage piercings to his cool takes on the constellation trend, he clearly has a knack for body art. And we aren’t the only ones who think so, either; he’s worked with Beyoncé and Bella Thorne — and more recently, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. Brian has made a name for himself by keeping his celeb clients’ piercings secret — but he did drop a few hints about the new ear jewelry that Jennifer and Emma have yet to reveal.

“I did lobe and cartilage piercings,” he says. “They got a bit of both. It was my first time working with them, so I was very flattered. I had a great time — I probably had more fun piercing them than they did getting pierced!” As far as his favorite piercing moment goes, though, that honor still goes to Beyoncé. “When I saw the Lemonade album cover and knew that I did a few of those, it was really cool,” he says. “She’s one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve met.”

Since not everyone can make it out to L.A.’s Body Electric Tattoo to score a personal appointment with Brian, we asked him for the next best thing: his best piercing tips. From nipple piercing facts to the truth about dealing with pain, get his answers to all your most pressing piercing questions, below.

Not all ear piercings will look good on you.

Two types of ear piercings that Brian specializes in are the constellation and fore helix. But, he cautions clients to talk it through first — because it might not always be the best fit.

“The constellation piercing is basically what I did on Jennifer,” he says. “It’s multiple lobe piercings, there’s no rhyme or reason to where you’re putting them or why you’re putting them there; you’re just doing it to be aesthetically pleasing. When I look at someone’s lobe, I see it like a fingerprint; everyone’s ears are completely different. Some people have lobes where they can do that, but not everybody is a good candidate. Jennifer is; she has perfect ears to get pierced and could get pretty much anything she wanted to. Another one is that triple piercing on the fore helix, the flower and the two diamonds. Every other day there’s five girls that come in that want this, and 1% of them can get it because their fore helix is shaped the right way.”

That said, he stresses that you can always adapt your original plan to fit your ear shape. “Most people can do one, maybe two on the fore helix,” he says. “It’s still as cool. Just because you walk in and you can’t get exactly what you want does not mean you’re not going to leave happy. I’ll do something completely different that you weren’t even thinking about.”

There are a few tricks to finding the right piercer.

“If I were looking for a piercer, I would probably start on Yelp or Google,” says Brian. “I would find a studio and see which ones are rated well, see if they have a website. If they don’t have a website, move on.” Once you’ve narrowed down the studio, find a piercer whose portfolio matches your style. “If they don’t have a portfolio, that is a red flag,” he adds. “If you are good at what you do, you’re going to want people to see it, so they have to have a portfolio. And if the portfolio is all blurry and black and white with weird angles that you can’t really see, move on.”

Once you’re ready to go in-person, Brian recommends looking at the floor. “I look at the floor first thing when I walk in,” he says. “If the floor is clean, you can assume just about everything in there is clean. If the floor is dirty, everything is dirty. Go with your gut instincts.”

The final step is having a conversation with your piercer. “If you like what they’re saying, sit down and make it happen,” he says. “If not, move on. There are piercers everywhere. You can find someone that can accomplish what want. Keep in mind that some piercers are better at other things. There are large-gage, extreme piercers. They do all this kind of cool stuff that I don’t do. I pierce the nose, the ear — I do delicate, fine-jewelry piercings.”

Don’t even think about the pain.

Worried your dream piercing will hurt? Just don’t. “Stop thinking about pain,” says Brian. “The pain is temporary. Get what you want. Don’t pick something because you think it’s going to hurt less. That’s nonsensical; the pain is gonna be over in two minutes and then you have something that you only put there because it hurts less. It’s not that bad. It’s always worse in your head. It’s really all in your head. Just think mind over matter — if you don’t mind, it don’t matter. It’s really the truth. You can really tolerate just about anything if you set your mind to it. I don’t like to say what hurts more, just get what you want.”

Here’s what you need to know about nipple piercings.

If you’re thinking of getting a nipple piercing, keep a couple of things in mind. “Nipples do take a long time to heal,” says Brian. “I’d say generally, about six months. Some people can heal a little faster. It depends on how healthy you are and it depends on the metals you’re using. I don’t use steel in the shop because most people have a sensitivity to nickel. I myself am sensitive to nickel, so I only carry titanium, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum. Those are the only metals that I really work with right now.”

Because of the longer healing time a nipple piercing involves, Brian says it’s one to really think about before you commit. “I always say that getting a piercing is immediate gratification, and then you realize you have to care for this thing,” he explains. “If a client is traveling or going on vacation, I tell them to wait. You don’t want to be taking care of a piercing while you’re on vacation. If you travel somewhere and you’re going to be in the water, just wait.”

Aside from the wait, Brian reveals it’s actually pretty low-maintenance. “You don’t have to be walking-on-eggshells careful,” he says. “If you’re reasonably careful, it should heal without a hitch. I pierced each one of mine three times and I’ve never had any real issues with them. My nostril gave me more issues than my nipples.”

Photos Courtesy of Instagram/@bodyelectrictattoo. Leftcenterright.