And while tattooing might look easy and fun on television, Megan was kind enough to walk us through just how much is involved in being a tattoo artist. "All of a sudden, all these people want to be tattoo artists. So many people think they can go out and buy the stuff, teach themselves how to do it, and that blows my mind," she said. "You have to get an apprenticeship. You have to learn to do it the right way. There are so many things to think about as a tattoo artist. You want to make sure you're super clean, and then the application of the tattoo, you have to learn that, and then you have to have artistic ability on top of that."
For those folks considering getting a tattoo, she also provided tips on what you should be looking for from your tattoo artist. "These days most tattoo artists are licensed. You want to make sure they're licensed according to their city or state. Every city or state is pretty different because tattoo law is pretty new," she explained. "And also [find one] that has bloodborne pathogen training, which is any disease that can be contracted through your blood. You want to make sure your artist has training in being clean and sterile, because it's just like having a minor surgery."
"You want to go to an artist that can tattoo well," she added. "Go into the shop before you get tattooed. Talk to the receptionist. See how their customer service is. If you want to get tattooed by somebody, look at their portfolio. See what they've done before. You have to figure out what you want to get, then you have to research and figure out who's the best match."
With her distinctive look and numerous tattoos of her own, Megan cuts a striking figure, and when asked if she ever finds herself being judged by her appearance, she said, "It depends on where you are. I got a lot of tattoos in my first year of tattooing, and I was treated way differently then than I am now. I can recall experiences of going into a grocery store, and people, especially older women, would come up to me and say, 'Hey, you've made a huge mistake.' I always thought it was so rude, but for some reason people thought with tattoos it was okay.
"But with TV exposing tattooing to a mainstream culture and so many celebrities having tattoos, people have become so much more comfortable with it," she continued. "It's the complete opposite than it was nine years ago. But I will say that there are parts of the country and the world where people still have that whole stereotypical look on tattooing."
Indeed, Megan herself breaks any stereotype that might exist based on what she looks like. She's happy to talk at length about the business of tattooing and the culture that surrounds it, articulating a true love for her chosen profession, but at the same time respecting that there are some people who probably won't understand it. She's down-to-earth, mentioning repeatedly how thankful she is that she's ended up where she is today. And over the course of a conversation that lasts nearly an hour, she's just fun to be spending time with. This is a woman you'd call for advice or trust to watch your house while you're on vacation. Not what you might expect, and that's a good thing.
Asked to pick her best quality, "I take a point of pride in my level of patience. I'm an extremely patient person. I'm the most patient person I know. and it's really important when you do as much work as I do and deal with as many people as I do," Megan said. "I generally try to be a nice, humble, positive person, and I think I'm really proud of myself for being able to stay that way.
"I really try to [emphasize] that the tattoo industry itself is all about respect," she added. "It's about respecting your elders, respecting the industry, and respecting the right way to do things."
NY Ink and America's Worst Tattoos premiere tonight on TLC; check your local listings for exact time and channel. You can also keep up with Megan by visiting her official website and following her on Twitter (@Megan_Massacre).