Paul: So Megan, can you tell me a little about your early tattoo career? How did you get started exactly?
Megan: I have been tattooing for about ten years now, I started in January of 2004 back in southeastern, Pennsylvania, where I’m from. I got my start pretty unexpectedly, I never really set out to become a tattoo artist, I think it just sort of found me. I have been an artist since I was young, always looking to learn new forms of art. At about 14 years old I first got the idea about becoming a tattoo artist, but when I visited a local tattoo studio looking for an apprenticeship they told me that I had to wait until I was 18 years old, and that it would by $4,000. That might as well have been a million dollars to me at 14 years old, so I thought it was just out of my reach.
Fast forwarding to me at 18, I had just graduated high school and was working a pretty unsatisfying job selling furniture in order to put myself through community college. While working one night, a co-worker asked if could give her a ride to a local tattoo studio after work so she could try out for a job as a body piercer. That was the second time I had ever been in a tattoo studio…
Megan: (continued) While I was waiting patiently in the lobby for her to finish, the owner of the studio emerged from the back and started asking me questions. Apparently my co-worker told him how well I could draw, so he brought out some paper and pencils and asked me to draw him some random things. When I finished he looked at the drawings and seemed impressed, he then asked if I ever did a tattoo before. Of course I said no, but then he asked if I wanted to try? I was terrified but just blurted out yes. He then set everything up for me in his tattoo station, and had me make a stencil of a script name to tattoo on the poor shops apprentice, who was now my guinea pig; he then walked me through my very first tattoo. It definitely wasn’t my best tattoo, but I did a decent job and he offered me an apprenticeship; I took it and haven’t looked back since.
Paul: You were also doing a lot of modeling early on, right? Did that have a positive or negative effect on your tattooing career?
Megan: Yes, I started modeling about three years after I started tattooing. That was a pretty random start for me as well. A tattoo client of mine who did some modeling actually told me about a tattoo photo project one of her photographers was working on and asked if I’d be interested in being involved. I went along and ended up really enjoying it. From shooting with him I met more models and photographers and it sort of just snow balled from there. Being a tattoo artist, it went pretty hand-in-hand being a tattooed/alternative model. I would attend tattoo conventions, tattoo all day then do photo shoots at night. Many of the magazines I worked with would use both my modeling photos and my tattoo photos in the same magazine features, which was really cool and fun for me to be able to combine my passions like that. However, because of that I did get a back lash from some tattoo artists disapproving of it. They believed I was trying to use my modeling to get myself ahead in tattooing, and some even told me I should quit modeling because it discredited me as a tattoo artist. Honestly, I was just having fun doing things that I truly enjoyed, there was no sinister motive to it. I believe, like all artists, my work speaks for itself. I never quit modeling despite what anyone had to say about it because I knew in my heart I was doing everything I did for the right reasons.
Paul: How would you describe your tattoo style?
Megan: Right now, I would describe my current style as bright, colorful, and feminine, sometimes with dark undertones. I like to do a range of different subject matter, and I like to combine styles such as realism, portraiture, new school, neo-traditional and traditional all into the same tattoos.
Paul: When I first noticed your tattoo work, it had more of a “new school” look, now it has a lot more elements of realism and traditional tattooing. Was that a conscious decision?
Megan: I think this really represents my tattooing “timeline” if you will. I started off as more of a new school tattoo artist because that was the trend at the time I started learning, and those were the types of artists I was surrounded by. From there I moved onto new shops and learned different styles of tattooing from all the diverse artists I worked with. In particular when I came to work at Deep Six in Philly, with you, Paul, it was the first time my eyes had really been opened to styles such as realism and portraiture. The mixed styles I use also reflected all the different trends in tattooing I experienced during the span of my career; such as neo-traditional, color portraiture and art nouveau. Now I like to incorporate little bits from everyone I have learned from, and art I have been inspired by.
Megan: As much as I love bright and colorful I definitely have an undying love for everything dark! My earliest artistic influences were pretty gothic. Artists such as Tim Burton, Brom, and Giger, as well as darker music styles such as bands like NIN and the Cure. I am also obsessed with everything Halloween and have a real fondness for gothic architecture like cathedrals. I think no matter how my style evolves over time, those initial influences will never leave me.
Paul: Are you still using coil machines or have you tried any other options yet?
Megan: I have been a pretty die hard coil fan most of my career. I remember I first started seeing rotaries pop up about five years ago and never really got into them until just this past year. I have tried out quite a few different kinds of rotaries to get a feel for what works best for me. So far I have a Neotat long stroke that I love for shading, as well as a Hawk Spirit which I also love for shading and sometimes lining. However, so far nothing for me has beat a good ol’ coil machine for the best lining. I have been using a Mickey Sharpz micro dial since I first started and still have yet to find anything I like better.
Paul: How did you get involved in the whole reality show thing? Was that something you always had in mind?
Megan: Like most things in my life, the reality TV thing was something that also just sort of presented itself to me. Before I was actually on TV I had not really ever watched a tattoo TV show! The way it first started was with a funny, yet strange phone call at the shop where I worked. My boss took the call, and the woman on the phone wanted to fly out from LA the very next week to get a tattoo from me. This is a rather unusual last minute request and my boss wouldn’t let the woman talk to me because he thought it was a prank call. Don’t you know, I get an email the next day from the same woman, saying she was from Discovery and that what she actually wanted to talk to me about a TV show. This made me feel even more like it was a prank, but I entertained it and gave her a call. It turns out it wasn’t a prank call at all! They were gearing up to do the first season of NY Ink, and Ami thought my style of work would be a good fit for the show. After only a month and a couple of interviews later, I was completely uprooting my life and moving to NYC.
Paul: How do you think reality TV has affected the tattooing industry?