Ethnographic Paper

.. t held a few candles. That wasn’t what caught me off guard. The candles had pictures of Jesus on them. To my left I saw the famous painting of the Last Supper, where Jesus and his disciples are gathered around a long table.

Near the right side of the building there’s a small hallway that directs people to the male or female washrooms. On those white walls there are pictures of Indian art such as Shiva, which is a woman dressed in an orange, yellow, and purple gown. On another visit to Ground Zero I got a chance to interview. As I approached Jared, he greeted me with a bright smile and a firm handshake. We stood in front of Ground Zero Tattoo where I introduced myself, and my memory must have faded because I was very surprised to see that he looked like a rave kid. Sad as it is, I had fit him into the preconceptions of his subculture.

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He has spiked dark brown hair, and sharp brown eyes with thick black eyelashes. When we made our way south on Northwestern Avenue, I had a chance to get overall view of Jared. He’s about 5’11”, and nothing but skin and bones. His pants sag a little, even though he’s wearing a belt, and he has a multi-colored buttoned up shirt. He has both his ears pierced, and instead of a hoop or stud, there’s a thick black dot with a hole in the middle.

Interesting, huh? Our conversation started off slow. Jared had been piercing people for only a couple of years, and he learned from finding a few friends to practice on. ” That’s the way to do it. If you can get a few friends to let you poke them, then you’ll just get better at it and then you’ll get a job.” He stated so proudly, but I felt so bad for his friends. Also, he mentioned to me that there are no “schools” specified in teaching people how to pierce or tattoo.

Sometimes the way to learn is to watch others as they do it. Actually that’s the only way to learn how in this field of work. I must have gotten carried away with the conversation, because I found myself sitting next to him on a cold metal bench near Chancey Hill. He leaned forward with his forearms resting on his thighs. I could tell that he likes this conversation, because he hasn’t broken his eye contact with me once. I happened to ask him about the laws that come along with opening up a tattoo and piercing place, and to my surprise there are none.

There is no law that requires any kind of certificate of experience or schooling for tattoo and piercing artists. The only law that binds them to the state is the quality of their apparatus and cleanliness. Jared explained that at Ground Zero Tattoos, they have the same kind of needles used in hospitals, and along with that they have a machine that sterilizes the needles after use. From what I observed at Jared’s place and other parlors is before the artists opens the secured package of needles, they have a mini speech that they make to the customer. Also, Jared told me the run down of things he says.

First, he tells the customer that it is the first time he has opened this package, and then he mentions that it will not be used again after that piercing is complete. Then Jared tells them that the needles will be set in a machine in order to sterilize them. There is a small majority of piercings that he did resulted in infections. Which he says has nothing to do with the way it was pierced. It has to do with the way the customer takes care of it. Before, during, and after a piercing the artist instructs the customer about how to take care of the new hole in their body.

Also, he mentioned that it very common for tattoo and piecing parlors to have a print out of all the information the artist told them, so the customer has a reference to look back on. Unfortunately, some people don’t take care of their piercing and end up with permanent scar tissue. For example, he told me that the belly button is more prone to infection than anywhere else on the body. So when Jared pierces someone, he stresses the amount of cleanliness the piercing would require. As for any location Jared wouldn’t pierce, there are none. Piercing people wherever they want is his job.

He doesn’t consider any area of the body an outrageous region to pierce, since another artist has done it before. For example, he has pierced the skin above the ankle, nipple, belly button, lower tummy, tongue, regions of the ear, the skin at the base of the neck in between the collar bones, noses, the skin in between the eyes, other sensitive areas of the body (genital areas), and more. He’s not modest about where, obviously. The trend of piercing has increased, and he’s only done this for two years. The popular ones are tongues and belly buttons.

Getting one piercing maybe inexpensive, but when you add these up it’s a hefty price to pay for the sake of ‘art’. The average piercing starts at $30 and can reach $85, depending on the region being pierced, and the more holes the more money. When I asked him if the price is higher near a college campus, he smiled and said, “Probably.” I did my research and yeah it is. If I were to go to Lafayette, I could save myself at least $20 on a piercing. Also, he hasn’t really had a problem with underage kids trying to get pierced, because by the time they come to college they’re legal.

Just in case, they always check for identification and a legitimate signature on a legal document. So I finished asking him my questions, and popped up with a bright smile. We sat back down together, and then it seemed like it was Jared’s turn for twenty questions. He wanted to know about my past, present, and future. What a sweet guy.

We parted with a simple handshake and a goodbye. He walked into the parlor, and I drove off in my car. English Essays.