Rakan Mansouri: Interview
How long have you been piercing?
R: Since 2008. I did a two year apprenticeship in Metal Morphsis under Baz Black, who is a very talented piercer. Throughout the years i picked up a lot of knowledge from other piercers and learned a lot of different techniques. From this i adapted my personal technique which i find most comfortable for myself and the client.
When was the moment that you decided to become a piercer?
R: I always wanted to be a piercer even in school. I love it because it’s my avenue for self expression- this is me, this is what I do, no one else’s opinions matter. I found my freedom through piercing- spiritually, physically, mentally.
How did you get into this world?
R: I used to look up BMEzine constantly looking for new ideas on how to make myself feel more comfortable in my own body, a very cool guy called Shannon Larratt used to run it but unfortunately he since passed away. It was a big thing in the Body Modification community. It was really interesting to see how people work together as a team with no egos…and that was my initial introduction into the world of Body modification.
And that is how you slowly went into body modification?
Yes, body modification is all about piercings, branding, suspensions. We’ve been doing it to one another since we’ve lived in caves. It’s primal, fascinating and stunning.
Would you put the Ink Factory log on yourself?
What do you like about your job?
R: I like the freedom my work offers me. Suggesting to people what piercing to go for and then seeing the satisfaction they derive from changing their appearance is a really beautiful thing. I can feel the energy of a client before we start and somehow I am able to change that energy so client can feel more relaxed and more positive about their appearance. I am very grateful that I am able to do this everyday.
Are people generally open to suggestions?
R: Yes most of the time they go for it. People are usually very open minded which helps me greatly with my work. If someone wants to get a piercing, and I feel that it is not suitable for them or their body part, I would suggest not to…Because the piercing is all about embracing the beauty and the symmetry of the body.
Do you think people’s perception about piercings has changed since the early 2000’s when you have started?
R: Yes. The guy who trained me, Barry, was heavily tattooed and pierced and he used to get rejected in social situations all the time on the streets of Dublin. Now people approach him like he’s the coolest guy they’ve ever seen. He is like an icon.
So the abuse you saw your friend get didn’t deter you from walking the same path?
I think it is cool to be brave enough to do what you want. Imagine living your life constantly terrified of what other people think about you? It is not for me.
What was Barry’s response to the attitude that he encountered?
He was a happier person than the people who were shouting abuse at him so go figure.
Were your family member’s supportive about your choice?
I felt so grateful. My mum has always been supportive, my sister was giving out to me as she thought it was not a real job in the beginning. Now it is different. I have made a very nice life for myself by chasing my dreams and I could not have done without support of my family.
Why do you think people pierce themselves?
Mainly for aesthetic reasons but for some people it’s a release, feeling pain in a controlled and sterile environment. Different reasons really. Hard to pinpoint (no pun intended).
What is your favorite piercing to do?
Any ear work as well as custom scaffolds.
If you weren’t piercing, where would you see yourself?
I’m not sure. I think if I hadn’t have found piercing and body modification I could have been a very different human being. Close minded, office job, miserable? Who knows. Coming from Saudi Arabia it is a miracle that I have succeeded with my dream job.
Are you afraid of pain?
Your body never remembers the pain. The founder of modern day piercing Fakir Musafar says that there is no such thing as pain just extreme physical sensations. I like to try to apply this to my life when I get pierced.
When you’re actually piercing other people what do you feel?
At the beginning I used to get an adrenaline hit but now I am much more focused on the procedure itself, to make sure everything runs smoothly and to ensure that I do it to a world class standard in a sterile environment. I will talk through everything with my client, it is easier for them to overcome the anxiety if I’m there with them, ready, prepared, in the moment and all my attention is on my customer.
How often do you get piercings yourself?
My friend told me in order to keep yourself humble, you should get pierced once every 3 months, to remind yourself how a customer feels. So I follow this advice as much as possible and it works for me.
What are your other hobbies?
Playing bass guitar and listening to the music. Music shifts your consciousness to higher plateaus. I love it. I Couldn’t live without it. Close friends and family are very important to me.
Would you consider yourself lucky because you found what you love to do?
I can see lots of people struggling with jobs and life so I feel grateful. Everyday I can share my art with people and get positive responses.
The last question- can anyone become a piecer?
You have to be fascinated by piercing, then you have to be passionate about it, then that passion has to turn into dedication to actually learning the craft. Then you need perseverance because you will make mistakes. If you persevere and remain fascinated and passionate it’s possible, like anything in life.