With Halloween nearly upon us, we present to you an interview with the epic and macabre illustrator and tattoo artist, Maegan LeMay! Check her work out here! Or follow her on instagram @irontit666
For starts tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?
My name is Maegan LeMay, and I was born and raised here on Cape Cod. Been here all my life. I'm a tattoo artist at Spilt Milk Tattoo in Hyannis, and I have been working as a full time tattooer for about three years. In the time spent away from tattooing, I do freelance illustration. I like to dabble in other crafty avenues from time to time as well.
When did you start taking art seriously? Do you take it seriously (I'm making wild assumptions here)?
I absolutely take it seriously! It's something I've been occupied by since childhood. So, it's always been something important to me.
You work as a tattoo artist yes? Does your art fit right in with tattoo tradition, or do you find yourself going "Oh great, another Red Sox
tattoo"? Do you ever get to work on a piece and say "Fuck yea, I'm in to this!"?
I'm sure most tattooers feel similarly about this, but you get a little of both. There's always a struggle with finding the balance between giving people what they want and being able to really use your own vision and artistic style. Some clients are more open than others. It's about finding a way of taking that Red Sox tattoo, for example, and putting a spin on it that makes it something you're interested in doing. Obviously I'd love to tattoo skeletons and evil shit on everyone, but it's a specialized genre! I'm still young in my career, and being able to do the stuff you like is something you work for. I'll gladly tattoo a variety of things, religious imagery, sports, frilly girly stuff, and I'll give it full focus and effort. However, when someone comes in with an idea suited to my taste, that's when I really feel like I have an opportunity to shine.
Your drawings heavily feature death, destruction, and decay. These are some compelling themes, and they tend to have a "can't look away" quality to them. How do you approach them?
I grew up on heavy metal and horror, so it has become the thing that inspires me. That sounds kind of pretentious, but it's true. My Dad is a huge horror fan and I just remember watching movies like Creepshow and Hellraiser with him as a kid. He introduced me to Bathory! I like reflecting these interests in my art, and it's sort of grown into a response to how sensitive and easily offended the general population is. That's my biggest pet peeve, so I channel that. So, yeah, I draw a lot of dead people. Personally, i don't really even find my work all that extreme. There's much more dark disturbing stuff out there!
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your work has a connection to the vibrant world of heavy metal illustration. Am I wrong? Talk about that if you don't mind. How does metal music influence art and vice versa, and where does your work fit in in this world?
The imagery I use is pretty typical of a lot of art associated heavy metal. Metal fans are extremely passionate about their music, so naturally it finds it's way into the things you do. I like to use my illustrations as a way of contributing. Cover art is an important part of the presentation of a music release. It's always an honor to represent someone's artistic output with your own, and I appreciate every band who has commissioned me for work.
Do people think you are a badass when they see your work? Are you a badass (again with the assumptions)?
I'm far from a badass, personally! I'm dork. Haha. A lot of my tattoo clients are a little surprised by the subject matter of my art when they check out my website, especially after meeting me in person.
What are some of your artistic influences?
Album art of course. I'm largely influenced by artists like Chris Moyen or Necrolord. I like fantasy art, such as Frazetta or Boris Vallejo. Lately, I like to reference the inking styles in older issues of Eerie, Creepy, or Conan comics. There are some fantastic artists on Instagram that I follow, and my fellow Nightwatch zine contributors.
Your drawings clearly take some time, do you listen to anything while you work?
Always. I listen to LPs mostly when I'm at home. As a music fan and artist how can someone not appreciate a record!? The graphic design, the bigger cover art, it's a much better presentation. I like the experience of listening to an album from start to finish while I work. Other than that, I have my trusty old Zune MP3 player for when I draw between tattoos at the shop. Mostly metal, a lot of older Black Death Thrash Speed NWOBHM. Tormentor, Deathhammer, Stormwitch, Vulcano, Candlemass, Riot, are a few of the kicks I'm currently on. Dio always.
If you could illustrate an album cover for any band, who would it be?
That's too hard. Haha.
Also, you do some crazy detailed beadwork?! What's that about?
I worked at a bead store for like eight years before becoming a tattooer. Oddly enough, it was a result of crafting chain maille that led me to making jewelry. That was my first job right out of high school, and aside from the typical retail job annoyances, I did enjoy working there. I haven't had much time lately for any beadwork, as my other artistic avenues have taken the forefront.
Friends, family, Spilt Milk family, Nightwatch, Patac records, and my dude Drew. Thanks for the opportunities and the motivation. Hail and kill!!!!Maegan LeMay Art