Soy Artista: Chicana piercer and shop Co-Owner
Back in 2006, Jackie Silva came to Humboldt County to pursue a college education in dance, not expecting that after only a few years of classes, she would be practicing the art of body piercing in a tattoo studio that she would one day co-own.
“I’ve always been intrigued by body piercings especially growing up in a very like old school kinda household, a very catholic household,” Silva said. “It was very intriguing, so naturally when I had the opportunity to modify myself I really got into it.”
Originally from Santa Ana, Silva (34) began the process of expanding her body jewelry really young when she had her ear lobes pierced. Around the early-mid 2000s, Silva allowed a friend to pierce her side lip one day in Cal Poly Humboldt’s dorms and has been rocking them till this day.
Through her fascination with the tattoo and piercing industry, Silva approached a new path outside of dance and she was hired as a shop girl when it was then called Old Growth Tattoo under different ownership, now it’s known as Sangha Tattoo Studio. She handled the front desk, ran shop errands and unintentionally started working towards an apprenticeship in body piercing in August 2016.
Although Silva had no intention of taking the path of a piercer, when the opportunity to work as a shopgirl came up again under new management, she took it. “I was like, ‘oh I’m just going to work here temporarily,” Silva said.
A whole year later in 2017, Silva decided she had the proper skill level to call herself a piercer and had been piercing folks already. She historically made her mark in the industry five years ago.
Silva worked her way up the ladder as a shop girl, at a certain point she was running the shop and gained the office manager position, all while having different owners. In 2017, Silva and her business partner, Randy Meyer (38) took over as owners due to previous ownership going separate ways beyond the industry.
“The opportunity for us to become owners came up and so now we’re running the shop together,” Silva said. “It’s cool because we both started at the bottom and worked our way up in the industry.”
Silva is a proud Mexicana-Chicana individual that is able to provide a safe space through tattoo and body piercing for many people but specifically the Latinx community in Northern California. According to Silva, she’s glad that she is able to help translate or facilitate that experience for Latinx people. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry Silva is proud to be able to represent her community.
“I love decorating ears or ear projects because there’s so many– in social media, you see people with really decked out and decorated ears and it’s very inspirational,” Silva said. “You can put all kinds of little pieces or you can put really big and awesome statement pieces. I love doing stuff like that.”’
These are some of Jackie Silvia’s past work as a piercer. | Photo courtesy of Jackie Silva
Some of the other piercings Silva can do are ear piercings which range from ear lobe, cartilage/helix, industrial, etc. Other places are nostrils like septum piercing, single/double side nose, and more different piercings on nipples, eyebrows and people’s nose bridge. She also offers a few under-the-belt piercings like belly buttons, dermal anchors and more, customers are encouraged to ask for more information.
“I feel fortunate that my business is here, we survived the pandemic and we moved into this beautiful location, despite the bumps we’ve had along the road,” Silva said. “I feel very fortunate to be where I’m at now and also to be working with baile folklorico de Humboldt and having that opportunity also.”
You can book a body piercing experience with Silva by calling the studio at (707) 476-8282. It may take her 1-2 business days to call back. Other ways to book an appointment with Silva are by messaging the shop through Facebook @oldgrowthtattoo or Instagram @sanghatattoostudio. You can locate the studio at 527 F St, Eureka, CA 95501. Silvia’s body-piercing passion hasn’t fully taken her away from her love for baile folklorico.
After years of dancing baile folklorico through her mother’s group growing up, Silva had extra vesturaio at her dispense and was able to reconnect with her initial path of life after running into la maestra, Elizabeth Rivera de Ballet Folklorico de Humboldt.
“I got to reconnect with it and for me, it was very beautiful to reconnect with it, there was something healing about it,” Silva said. “Also, reclaiming that for myself versus like the intention for what it was like back then.”