Scarification (from December Pain Magazine)

There are many methods of scarification but all have the same permanence. While a tattoo may be laser treated and covered up, scars are much more difficult to hide. John Joyce from Scarab Body Arts in Syracuse, NY took the time to share his knowledge.

John says there are many reasons to get scarification done, “Some people choose scarification over tattoos for aesthetic reasons, others like that you can feel it once it’s healed, some people don’t like the idea of a foreign substance(tattoo ink) being put into their body, and some people have existing scars that they want to turn into something else. The fact that you can feel the piece once it’s healed definitely adds to it for some people.”

The methods of producing a scar are as varied as the reasons to get one done. John says, “Single line cuts, removal, cross hatching are all different forms of cutting. Then there
are strike, cautery and electro-cautery, which are forms of branding. When I first started I did just line work for a very long time. Eventually I started adding some removal into my pieces to add some depth. Now, I still do a combination of single line and removal.”

Scarification has a long history as a rite of passage, to show status or personality and it is continuing to grow in popularity. “It is definitely growing and getting more exposure now than it used to.”  John said, “People used to see my portfolio and be like, “WHOA!!! What the F@!K Is This?!”, now people have at least heard about it, or seen some special about it on the Discovery Channel. It’s lost its shock value, which I’m actually very happy about.”

If you want to get into doing scarifications, John says to take it slow, “Talk to respected artists, gather information, and watch people doing it first. Have your work critiqued, and start small and simple, not with a giant removal piece.” Artists that don’t go through the proper channels can make it harder for pros, “Scarification is already illegal in some areas. People putting out poor quality work are only putting a negative view on our art form which could lead to it becoming illegal in more areas.”

If you are interested in getting scarification done John says that there is no guaranteed outcome. “With a tattoo you come up with a design, show it to a good artist, you can pretty much guarantee that the finished outcome will look exactly how you want it to. With scarification, while there are tricks and things we can do to help it scar consistently and to produce the results we want, ultimately it is up to your body.”

You can see more from John Joyce at

People are always thinking of new and interesting ways to modify the human body, so many ways to decorate beyond modern machines. While so many of these trends are throwbacks to days past, new technology, ancient methods and bright minds keen to modify hold endless possibilities.

~ by accordingtoleanne on November 25, 2009.

2 Responses to “Scarification (from December Pain Magazine)”

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