You may know bite-sized tattoo artist and beauty MEGAN MASSACRE from the popular TV show NY Ink and the recently released America’s Worst Tattoos, where she is making waves with her colourful and eclectic style of tattooing. When she’s not tattooing at the Wooster Street Social Club in New York City – where NY Ink is shot – she also models, makes multimedia art and is one half of DJ duo Letz Massacre with her boyfriend Joe Letz. She recently came to London to take part in the Great British Tattoo Show, and to guest tattoo at her boss Ami James’ flagship shop, Love Hate Social Club. From her fiery orange hair and energetic attitude to her quirky little teal dress, Megan was as entertaining and lively in person as she is on camera. She sat down with us to chat about her style inspirations, worst tattoo cover-up experience, and how she juggles her crazy schedule.
Victoria Elizabeth: So Megan, you have worked on NY Ink and America’s Worst Tattoos, and you’ve tattooed in New York City for the past 3 year. What would you say is the difference between NYC Tattoo culture and what you have experienced here in London?
Megan Massacre: To be honest, I don’t think I have an overall experience of Tattoo culture yet because I’m really lucky to come here and be able to work at Love Hate Social Club. Ami James, my boss in New York, owns Miami Ink and now owns this shop too so I really just get to come and hang out with my friends here. This is also the first time I’ve been to London and actually been here for longer than a day. So this is really my first time tattooing here and I’m still just taking it all in. I will say that I have had such a good time tattooing here clientele-wise. They’re not nitpicky kinds of clients, they’re great tattoo clients, which is really refreshing to know because not all places have those. New York does, but London does too obviously.
One thing I will say culture-wise is this. What being at the Great British Tattoo Show taught me is that it’s the same here as it is in New York, as it is in Philadelphia and everywhere else – tattooists are all about respect. Especially the old school ones but I think they should instil that in the younger ones as well. You could be an amazing tattoo artist but if you’re a dickhead or are just disrespectful then no one is going to want anything to do with you. It definitely pays to be a nice and respectful person in this industry or they’ll definitely shut you out. It’s pretty typical around tattooists and I can see that here as well. I imagine that the roots of tattooing in London are much older than they are in America so it makes sense.
Victoria: It’s a bit difficult to characterize your tattoo style; it’s very eclectic and colourful. How would you define it?
Megan: To be honest my style is really evolving, and it’s evolving very fast because I’m influenced by so many different things and I don’t really keep constraints. Right now colour portraiture is very popular but ten years ago it didn’t exist. That’s how fast it evolves. And it’s getting faster because of how popular tattooing has become. So instead of people who were just bikers and gang members learning to tattoo because this was part of their world, now there are art students or fine art painters, graphic designers with that art background that are making tattooing that much better really fast.
You have to constantly evolve to keep up with the times. I’m like a little sponge. Like this morning I was taking pictures of Portobello Market. We walked around for an hour early in the morning and people were opening up all the antique stalls and I literally just had my camera out, taking pictures in all angles and every light of everything because I get so much inspiration just from what I see.
I really like doing a combination of styles. I love working in colour, and especially bright colours. There are also times that I like working in dingy, dark colours. It depends on the piece and what it calls for. When a customer comes in and sits down with me, I don’t draw the tattoo until they’re here. I want to know what they like, where they are putting it on their body, what other tattoos they have etc.
Victoria: So you’ve been on America’s Worst Tattoos, which means you must have seen some pretty bad work out there. What would you say was the most difficult tattoo you had to cover up?
Megan: There’s this one tattoo on that show, which already aired in America but is actually airing here right now. In one of the upcoming episodes a woman was getting tattoos covered with her fiancé because they were getting married and they both had horrible chest tattoos. She had two tattoos on her chest, which for a woman is a very feminine spot. On one side she had a cowboy boot filled with French fries, and on the other side she had a hot dog with a little face playing a guitar, with a Native American headdress that’s sitting in a pocket that says ‘I heart Nashville’. Think about how much stuff that was, and it was big and very dark.
Cover-ups are hard and I look at every one and say, “oh boy,” but this one I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I literally didn’t know because not every tattoo can be covered up. And I looked at this one and was like, “Do you really want me to cover this up? Really, on television?” I was literally sweating bullets the entire time, hoping it would work. She had to get an entire chest piece, which is what she wanted. I did a bunch of Autumn leaves in oranges, reds, and yellows all across and in the background I did blues and greens. It was very colourful but also earthy and it came out really cool. It took me two sessions to finish her tattoo totalling fourteen hours or so.
Catch Megan on Season 3 of NY Ink and America’s Worst Tattoos, which premiered on TLC in the UK this May.
Words: Victoria Elizabeth