BMXnet 12th-15th September 2019 – By Kim Hutchinson (Vice President)

BMXnet is one of the longest running currently active conferences for piercers. It celebrated 13 years in 2019. It’s a truly unique experience to attend, held in the beautiful city of Essen, just a short train ride from Dusseldorf airport.

This was my 4th time attending, and my first as a speaker. One of the things I love about BMXnet is its relaxed and informal “anything goes” atmosphere – I remember feeling a little overwhelmed my first time, but within minutes of arriving I was at ease and felt like I was among family.

The main purpose of a conference is, of course, learning. Sharing skills – both in the classes and at the bar in the evenings – is the foundation which the entire conference is built upon, but BMXnet has an amazing social aspect too! The key to this I believe lies in the venue. Unperfekthaus is a quirky, beautiful 5-storey building just off the main shopping strip in the city, it incorporates artists’ studio space and facilities, a space to create art, jewellery, clothing and textiles, sculpture and music and performance too – the entire interior of the building is decorated with work by local artists – all of which is for sale – and there are several little nooks and crannies filled with handmade items like jewellery, pincushions, knitted socks and other handcrafted items like trinket boxes and puzzles that you can purchase by paying into the ‘honesty boxes’ there. This artist-friendly atmosphere really lends itself to the event and the people who attend fit seamlessly into the environment provided. And I couldn’t talk about UPH without mentioning the food! A daily buffet is laid on for both attendees and members of the public who can pay a small charge to help themselves to a great choice of food – with vegetarian and vegan options too. A personal indulgence of mine is their rhubarb and red-currant cake which I ate more of than I am prepared to admit! See more about the house and its amazing work with the local community here: https://www.unperfekthaus.de/

For those of you reading who have never been to a piercer conference, it’s a very ‘family’ orientated vibe, lots of hugs (if that’s your thing), catching up with people you haven’t seen in ages, and as mentioned, a HUGE social aspect! BMXnet is very informal and this piercer thinks this is another of the secrets to its success! Please consider attending if you are a piercer – the knowledge you will gain and the friends you will make will enrich your career in so many ways! The conference has a ‘triple whammy’ of piercers, tattooists and body modification artists, the classes are varied and multiple languages are available (English, French, German and Spanish) from speakers – with some running their class twice, each time in a different language! As well as technique classes, we learn about our history, the psychology and anthropology behind our careers and of course roundtable discussions where a topic is discussed at length from different experiences and viewpoints – I love these as everyone contributes to the discussion, and there is no ‘right’ answer.

I was teaching 2 classes there and once the nerves had subsided, thoroughly enjoyed speaking to a group of my peers and getting feedback on the topics discussed. I also attended classes by piercers from all over the world, and picked up some valuable information and tips and techniques which I have since implemented into my daily work as a piercer. I was also asked to join Ryan Ouelette for another podcast, to discuss conferences and how they don’t simply fall out of your bottom the night before – the planning, organising, arranging and then the setting up, running of and the aftermath of a conference can be nothing short of exhausting, which is why so many of us are simply in awe of what Stefan and his team at BMXnet can do! As a UKAPP board member who has some responsibility for organising our conference, I also pick up a lot of pointers about the running of a conference from attending!

I met with friends from other areas of the UK as well as people from around the globe, we shared a few beers, had a few laughs and played our favourite conference game “What’s In Yer Pockets, Dan?” where a friend of ours shows off the treasure he carries around with him (items included a small ceramic giraffe, a lego Jafar and a severely damaged female condom).

Leaving such a beautiful venue – and indeed a beautiful city! – always fills me with a sense of sadness, but knowing I shall be returning next year gives me something to look forward to, especially if there’s any more of that rhubarb cake there….

You can view pics from the event and see info on future ones – and piercers, tattooists and body modders can register to attend – here: https://www.bmxnet.org/

Unperfekthaus

UKAPP at the London ‘Special Practices’ Meeting – 5th September 2019

By Kim Hutchinson (UKAPP Vice President)

The UKAPP were approached by Sarah Jones who works for Public Health Wales (https://phw.nhs.wales/) to ask if we could attend a meeting for the special practices team in London for one of their quarterly meetings.

Sean Powell (UKAPP Secretary at the time, Sean is now our Health Officer) and myself travelled to the ‘big smoke’ to meet with some of the people who implement the health and safety measures that are in place in all tattoo and piercing studios (as well as many beauty, laser and acupuncture studios – collectively called ‘Special Practices’).

After a day in the city where we explored the gemstone exhibition at the Natural History Museum (if you haven’t seen it, try and go, it is incredible – and you have never seen two people more excited than a couple of piercers in a room filled with gemstones and natural stones!) and finding our way around by tube – a slightly alien concept to two northerners! We arose bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to meet with people who make a difference to how our industry is policed.

We found the venue and were welcomed into the meeting, Sarah joined us shortly after we arrived and we were introduced to the people attending. First up was a presentation from Duncan Stephenson from the RSPH (more on their incredible work here: www.rsph.org.uk) I had prepared a short presentation about the UKAPP and our mission and operation – we discussed WHY we felt the need was there for our organisation to form, our membership requirements and why we feel they should be implemented. There was a short Q&A session at the end of our presentation which I feel was well received and Sean and I clarified several aspects of the organisation to eager ears!

The aim of the meeting was to discuss implementing the changes made to ‘special practices’ licencing/registration in Wales – essentially ‘raising the bar’ to make sure anyone carrying out this type of procedure has the relevant knowledge and training where applicable to do their job in a safe manner. This is to reduce the risk of harm to the public, and to eliminate potential hazards which are a direct result of incorrect knowledge and appropriate training. One of the issues raised by the RSPH presentation is that many members of the public did not know that these procedures require a registration with the local council, and even more worrying, that first aid and bloodborne pathogens training is NOT a requirement!

The RSPH and UKAPP have a similar mission – to keep the public safe. While RSPH are a broader spectrum of projects and cover everything from online safety to the accessibility of public toilets, and UKAPP are – of course – specific to piercing, we both share a goal!

After the meeting, Sean and I met with Sarah Jones to debrief, and we were overjoyed to hear that the group were grateful for our help and are very aware that they can liase with us if they need any industry-specific assistance. This also led to some exciting discussions about future training opportunities.

All in all, a very worthwhile and progressive meeting, wherein absolutely no-one broke their keto diet…

Marvelous thanks to everyone that attended conference

The UKAPP would like to spend a moment to thank everyone that attended this years annual conference.

All the attendees and speakers make it possible and the vendors provide an opportunity not matched at any other UK event.

In particular Industrial Strength for sponsoring the event

But also: Neometal for going above and beyond for the raffle prizes. As well as Anatometal UK, Maya, Tattoo accountants, Glass wear studios, Auris, Danila Tarcinale, Tsar, Sacred Symbols and Neilmed

Safer Together conference, 11th March Llandudno, Wales

The second conference of this nature, held by the Chartered Institute of Environment Health in Wales.

The Public Health Wales Act 2017 Special licensing scheme means to bring forth a series of improvements to modernise and regenerate the current licensing system with the aim of better ensuring public protection. The Welsh government is working closely with specialist Environmental Health Officers to prepare for the roll out of the scheme in 2020
A ‘Special Procedures’ license includes body piercing, electrolysis, tattooing, acupuncture, micro blading and micro pigmentation.

All practitioners undertaking special procedures whether they are currently registered or not will need to apply for a license in 2020 and thereafter to operate in Wales.

To get an individual license you will need to:
Attend and pass an approved course in infection control (1)
Meet environmental criteria
Provide a passport style photo
Complete an application form using provided guidance
Pay an application fee (2)
Provide a passed DBS check (3)
Provide evidence of public liability insurance
Complete an interview with an EHO

(1) The course is a requirement for licensing and not competency to practice
(2) Local Authorities are prohibited in making a profit from this scheme and cost will be based on admin time and time taken to process the application
(3) Formerly CBR check, Disclosure and Barring Service

This is the first time a unifying scheme of this nature has been rolled out on such a large scale. Each county in Wales will now have the same requirements, meaning if a guest artist wishes to work in any studio within Wales, the same license can be carried.
It also means that any guest artist traveling to Wales will need a license.

Throughout this process, the UKAPP have played a large part in picking apart the existing CIEH Toolkit which was in places outdated and contained information that would no longer stand up to peer review. Also in working alongside the Royal Society of Public Health, the organization that will be providing ‘level 2 infection control’ course required for licensing. Including advising on content and required pass score.

This scheme shows no evidence of slowing down and the CIEH and the UKAPP already have their sights on the rest of the UK.
The UKAPP will be meeting with the ‘special procedures’ council in London later this year.

These efforts stand to strengthen the industry’s base level of education. Ensuring public health and safety as well as providing a minimum education level for all license holders. Something which has been previously unheard of.

2018“Safer Together”Conference for Tattoo Artists & Body Piercers

Hosted by Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, reviewed by Lola Slider

Hello reader and welcome to the UKAPP’s first official blog post! The UKAPP have been wanting to provide our members and the whole community with a monthly blog to better keep you in touch with what we actually do conference to conference. What good fortune then for our first month of blogging to coincide with the first ever “Safer Together” conference.

A little bit of background on the conference and our involvement – Public Health Wales passed new legislation in 2017 to introduce a new licence in development called a“Special Procedures” license designed to cover piercing, tattooing and some cosmetic services where practitioners come into contact with blood and needles for example micro-blading. Under this new scheme by 2020 individual practitioners of all experience levels will be required to sit a day course covering fundamental principles of infection control and work specific first aid. At this time there is really no test of competence in place to ensure a practitioner has even a very basic knowledge of cross contamination or infection control and that can pose a serious public health risk. There is also no system in place to prevent practitioners who have previously been shut down for health code violations from simply re-opening down the street with a different employees name on the license, as no individual license is required.

So in a nutshell the two key things this legislation will do is:

1. Provide a simple, essential, baseline of information all practitioners should have access to and- we cannot stress this enough – it is NOT a suggested replacement of in house training. It will not cover any practical information regarding tattoo application or piercing procedure. It focuses on basic infection prevention and safe work practice controls only.

2. It will give the Welsh government more powers to immediately halt work and prosecute individuals performing unlicensed or illegal tattooing and prevent persons who have previously been found guilty of health violations from automatically being able to work in another premises.

The UKAPP is working closely with the Welsh government to make sure that the course in development contains material that is relevant to our industry, so if you read no further, please be assured that the Welsh government is not attempting to blindly impose it’s will or give us extra hoops to jump through. The purpose of the Safer Together conference was the first of many events where they wish to work directly with the community to develop a course that is:

1. Affordable, with a transparent and justifiable cost.

2. Palatable to practitioners of all literacy levels and inclusive to practitioners with learning differences.

3. Less red tape, with one course valid across all 22 Welsh constituencies for 3 years (guest licenses also available)

So, how did the conference go down on the day? Very well actually!

If I sound a little surprised when I say that it’s only because I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had met Dr. Sarah Jones of the Health Policy Protection and Legislation Branch before at the UKAPP conference and had no doubt that this was a project of some significance to her but as this event is rather unusual in format, with a blend of Health Officers, Government Officials, Doctors, Tattooer and Piercers, I don’t think any of us knew exactly what to expect. What we actually got was a fantastic reception from the Radisson Blu Cardiff which was a lovely surprise. Hot and cold drinks, biscuits and pastries where available for all attendees and were restocked all through the day with soy milk being readily available at all times.A freshly prepared lunch buffet was laid on that seemed to cater to many dietary requirements and we had full access to the bar dining area which was a lovely breathing space so we weren’t at all confined to the function suite like cattle and you could breeze in and out quite freely for a coffee.The function suite itself was ballroom size (sold out to capacity it appeared) seating was available in round wedding style tables facing the stage. All equipped with table water, pads and pens. There were projector screens at the front and back of the room with an additional two flat screen TV’s in the middle to create an easily followed presentation regardless of seating position. All speakers had access to a microphone so all where audible and there were no significant technical issues.These elements might not seem important but I think it’s relevant to establish that for the ticket price (£30 early bird, £80 last minute) we were very much taken care of and the presentations of the day included 8 speakers, some of whom spoke more than once, who discussed a wide range of subjects from a modern history of tattooing to skin cancer awareness to a dermatologist’s look at infection. Another pleasant surprise was that attendance certificates where also provided to all attendees.

The UKAPP was approached by city council members from England interested in hosting similar events and we were also approached by doctors regarding our FGM leaflets so I definitely think attending these events increases our reach as an educational organisation into sectors we haven’t previously had an “in” to. One thing I did notice was that there were very few people in attendance that I knew already, online or in real life. For me that’s a really, really good thing because what kills a conference in my opinion is a room full of people who all know each other, who all agree already, nodding at each other. While there was a lot of positive feedback real criticisms where also raised and different pockets of the community were represented.

Low Points

So you’ll be pleased to hear there aren’t a lot of negative things I have to say about the conference. If I could make one criticism it would be that there wasn’t really a clear narrative about what’s going to happen now going forward. With a deadline of 2020 it would be good to see some sort of timeline – however the purpose of this conference was to get feedback from the community so I do appreciate that you can’t go forward until that feedback is take into consideration.I also think that some of the speakers slots could have been arranged in a slightly different order to give the day a better structure but that’s hindsight, organising this event for the first time it would be impossible to know exactly how each presentation would land or even what the audience demographics would be.

High Points

Pretty much all speakers where incredibly receptive to intense Q&A and showed a willingness to address community concerns. Sample material of potential future testing was available to attendees to provide feedback on which really puts attendees right in the centre of the conversation. Something new that I learned was that this new legislation also gives the local authority to power to refuse a license to individuals who have been convicted of a limited number of relevant crimes such as sexual assault, which provides a welcome protection for vulnerable customers. Another point of significance to the piercing community was that during Dr. Matt Lodder’s talk a photograph of the late Fakir Musafar was shown, as well as Shannon Larratt and Mr. Sebastian. These may be images we’ve seen before and for some people reading this, these people will have been in your life. We should as a community take a moment to appreciate the fact that these images where displayed and discussed at a conference attended by and paid for exclusively by the Welsh Government, so that’s really, really cool and it recognises their enduring achievements.

Welcome

Hello and welcome! you have found this website because you have an interest in the future of the body piercing industry. We hope to engage professionals, hobbyists and the medical profession into promoting safe piercing practices through good education.