Pro-Piercer Interviews – Meagan Kreiner
Today marks the start of a series of interviews with wonderful piercers from all over the globe. First up is Meagan Kreiner. Meg is a fabulous body piercer, currently residing in LA. She pierces at Freak Chic Tattoo and Piercing and makes all kinds of handmade goodies.
Knoxville Piercing: How long have you been piercing? Where did you get your start?
Meg: I generally like to tell people I’ve been piercing since Jesus was a baby. I actually babysat him to afford my apprenticeship.
In all reality, I did my first professional piercing in 1997, but started piercing friends in less than awesome conditions in about 1994, and pierced myself for the first time in 1992.
I got my apprenticeship after leaving art school at a really horrid shop in Ohio. I won’t name drop on that one, but let’s just say it was less than awesome.
KP: What things in your apprenticeship were bad? What do you wish they would have taught you?
Meg: So, here’s the story of my apprenticeship.
Long long ago, in a land far, far away called Medina, Ohio, I was fresh home from decided I hated school. While in college I had gotten a tattoo, and had my labret pierced (sidenote- same piercing I still have today, done by Kevin Jump) and had started stretching my earlobes. I was always drawn to piercings. I pierced my own nostril with I was a pre-teen (sidenote- same nostril piercing I still have today.. haha) and was forever enthralled with NatGeo documentaries and articles, etc.
Once back home, I wanted to get another tattoo, so I went to the local shop.. it was straight up Ohio biker trash, no reason to sugar coat it. I started getting tattooed there, and the piercer at the time talked me into getting my nipples pierced. After that, he asked me if I wanted to learn how to pierce, and I waffled over it and said yes. It cost me $300. I was sent home with all the old Gauntlet videos, watched those, then we did “see one, do one” kind of training. Within a week and a half, I was piercing clients.
In that time, I saw some skeevy shit. A brother and sister who were 9 and 12 years old getting their nostril and eyebrow pierced. A 15 year old getting a hood piercing. Sexual shenanigans. Dirty shop. Bad habits. Drugs in the studio. You name it, it was there.
I honestly don’t wish for anything differently. I paid my dues with some to spare there. I learned everything you SHOULDN’T do. haha. Maybe it was the best apprenticeship ever, in retrospect.
KP: Training and education is important. Tell me about your qualifications.
Meg: After my astounding 3 week apprenticeship, I pierced at a hack shop for about a month before moving to a different part of the state. I was the sole piercer at the shop I went to, then got on at Acme Piercing Company in Cincinnati. Once there, I was more or less re-apprenticed, and started taking bloodborne pathogens classes, relevant anatomy, aftercare method and theory, etc. Over the years, I’ve worked hard to broaden my knowledge through various classes at the APP conference, networking with my peers, and reading, watching..
Nothing teaches you more than experience though.
KP: You have almost 14 years of experience which is a lot in ‘piercer years’! There are so many piercers out there with little to no experience, it’s scary! What experiences have you had that have made you a better piercer?
Meg: I think that all the crap I’ve endured coming up has made me a better piercer. I’ve worked in shit show shops. I’ve dealt with verbal abuse from employers. I came up in a time when piercing was popular to the point where we were doing 40-60 piercings a day in rural Ohio during the summer. I’ve also guested in several great shops, exposed myself to different styles and techniques, different ways of running shops, different ways of dealing with clients and situations.. It’s all made me the piercer I am now.
KP: What challenges did you overcome to get where you are at today?
Meg: I went from being a really mediocre piercer to being a really strong, confident piercer over the years. I overcame ego, bad shops, the works. It’s a boys club, being a woman has posed it’s own problems too..
KP: There are very few female piercers today, why do you think it’s such a male dominated industry? What did you do to overcome it and excel?
Meg: The lack of female piercers doesn’t surprise me. You have to have thick skin to deal with this boys club. It’s absolutely appalling. I deal with it now even. I often feel like my opinions don’t count because I have a vag. Lame.
Keep in mind, this industry spawned from the gay leather scene. No girls allowed! While it’s gone FAR beyond that now, I feel like that start kinda impressed itself on the future of the industry.
Sadly, women often get into this industry because they have a boyfriend who is a piercer, then when it’s over, so is their career. I didn’t have that start. I’ve never dated anyone I worked with, worked for, or who worked for me.
I’m also mouthy, and put my foot down.. I think that can attribute to my staying power. I’m not going anywhere! Look at Elayne (Angel). Maria (Tash). Raelyn… tough broads who have stuck it out! I want to be those women.
I have to say, the other problem with girls in this industry- they act like they are rock stars, sometimes worse than the boys. Nude modeling, partying, etc.. people don’t take you seriously when you become a cartoon of yourself.
KP: What do you feel is the biggest problem in the piercing industry today?
Meg: As always, hack shops and bad jewelry are the top of my list, but the thing that is my greatest pet peeve is 20 year old kids who think they are g-ds gift to piercing. I can’t stand rock star ego and “I’m more modded than you” attitudes.
KP: I love jewelry! Who is your current favorite designer(s)? Why?
Meg: My favorite is, hands down, Maria Tash. No matter what, after working for the company, I’m hooked on luxury. Piercings don’t have to be ugly. Piercings don’t have to be basic. There is no reason why you can’t have beautiful things, and her line illustrates that to the max.
KP: After doing a guest spot at one of Maria Tash’s New York locations, “Venus”, I too, am hooked on luxury jewelry. I find that a lot of people don’t ever think about wearing gold or fine gems in their piercing. Do you really think that the basic steel ball is that popular?
Meg: I think that basic steel ball is only as popular as you let it be. People are STOKED to see they don’t have to wear that crap. And it IS crap. I don’t care what company makes it, at the end of the day it’s plain, it’s industrial and hard looking.. there ARE better options. Hell, white gold is better.. it looks cleaner, whiter, brighter..
If you limit your shop to basics, it’s all you’ll ever sell. Plain and simple.
Another problem is the overabundance of cheap shops carrying that stuff. They set the price standards.. $40 piercing, with jewelry.. for people who are totally budget focused, the idea of spending $100 on the same piercing is tough.. they know they can get it cheaper.. I always tell people- “If you can’t afford your dream piece, save up” and ya know, they generally do. They come back a few weeks later and get pierced with a piece they LOVE!
KP: What are some of your favorite piercings to perform?
Meg: My 2 favorites are septums and daiths. If I could actually JUST do those, everyday, forever, I’d be stoked. Haha
KP: What do you love about these piercings?
Meg: Ahhh.. septums and daiths. Septums are simple- I nail them every single time. I have a method, it works, and it’s a fun, easy and no-brainer of a piercing that is so fun to have!
Daiths(ADD LINK and PHOTO of DAITH, maybe done by Meg!).. another simple one. They are easily the most aesthetically pleasing piercing to me.. the simple, understated beauty of a daith with a basic little gold fixed bead ring can’t be beat.
KP: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen in the piercing studio?
Meg: I’ve seen some insanity over the years. Probably the craziest being my client who wore an infibullation device and who poured battery acid on his stuff. Yikes!
KP: I’ve heard of people having to do all kinds of weird things during their apprenticeship; do you have any stories to share?
Meg: I really didn’t have to do anything, but I was a total shop bitch. Scrubbing tubes, getting lunch, etc. But it went by in 3 weeks, so who can complain?! haha
KP: We’ve all seen piercings that have gone terribly wrong; What’s the worst thing you’ve ever witnessed?
Meg: I won’t go into details, but think of a slasher flick, with blood spattered across the wall. Then imagine that, combined with an ampallang piercing.
KP: Any stories to share about any memorable clients or piercings you have performed?
Meg: I’ve had some RAD customers over the years. My favorite is an Indian woman named Smita. I pierced her nostril on Mother’s Day so she could wear the 4mm diamond that her mother, who had recently passed away, wore. It was emotional, and we both cried and hugged and it was amazing. And she used to being me homemade samosas.
KP: What advice do you have to aspiring piercers?
Meg: Honestly, don’t do it. Piercing is not a job. It’s a lifestyle. You go broke, the hours suck, and a lot of clients are horrid. It’s not a rockstar job, you won’t be cooler because you are a piercer, and it’s not going to give you free range to get a throat tattoo and nothing else. Also, you becoming a piercer just adds to the problem of piercer overpopulation, which means you are taking money out of the pockets of people who give a shit about our industry.
I know it’s a cranky POV, but I’m a cranky ol’ broad.
KP: How have you seen the piercing industry evolve since you’ve started?
Meg: The industry is totally different now. It used to be underground. The people who got pierced were different, more into the experience, more interested in being educated.. now? people don’t care. They come in for their fashion accessory, don’t listen, buy cheap crap and not care.. it’s frustrating.
As far as the experience.. it meant more. Piercings are very disposable now. I’ve had clients come in and straight up say they were getting pierced just for the night! Oy vey.
10 years ago.. piercing wasn’t as socially acceptable. If you made the move to get a piercing, you were making a statement. You knew yourself and your life enough to understand the impact it was going to have.
Today, bank tellers have nostril piercings. Glass retainers make things just go away for work. it’s different. It’s hard to explain.
As piercers, I’m starting to see a decline in job pride as well. 10 years ago, everyone had a portfolio. They cared. Now? not so much. And the “prestige” of showing off crazy piercing and nice jewelry seems to have taken priority over taking pics of perfectly healed, beautiful work. It’s lame.
KP: What do you think the future of body piercing holds?
What do you hope to see 10 years from now?
Meg: I honestly see the further commercialization of this industry. Malls, mainstream.. where are the corporate chains? They are coming, I’m sure.
I’d love to see piercing regress to the point it was at even 5 years ago.. more love, more positivity, more focus on the client.
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