I

Ink Master is a  television show that pushes the boundaries of artistry and ingenuity. I remember a time when the idea of tattooing being promoted on television was unthinkable. A time when tattoos were considered a stain, symbols of degradation and depravity worn by criminals and miscreants.

Thankfully, those times are over. Well, my mom still has severe reservations. Apart from that the art of body modification has risen greatly in popularity all over the world.

Ink Master

And with great popularity, come great ratings.

So great, in fact, that in just five short years Spike’s Ink Master is about to start its ninth season! Ninth! Yes, if you’re only hearing about this show now, you’ve been missing out. The good news is, you have a lot of catching up to do. Which means a lot of tattooing to watch, enjoy and talk about. 

This time around we are here and we are going to follow the show closely.

For the newcomers, the premise is simple enough: It’s a competition so there are judges. The judges are no other than masters of the craft, Oliver Peck and Chris Nuñez, accompanied by rock star Dave Navarro.

There’s also a number of tattoo artists – between 16 and 18 ever since season two –  who compete for $100,000, a feature in Inked Magazine, and the title of Ink Master. Each week, after a creative flash challenge and an elimination tattoo, one person, deemed unworthy of the title, leaves the competition until only three remain.

Ink Master start

Those three go head to head against each other from their own shops, presenting one large-scale piece of work, created over several sessions. The final tattoos are revealed at a live finale, with viewers voting for the winners.

What to expect this year

This season, there’s a plot twist. The grand prize is $200,000, the feature is still in play, but the title is “Master Shop”. The reason is that unlike previous years when it was every man for himself, on this edition, 18 artists from nine shops across the US are working in pairs, competing as teams.

Among previous contestants for the title are the names of James Vaughn, Cleen Rock One, Joey Hamilton (Winner, Season 3), and Kelly Doty. I am sure the selection this year will not disappoint too. It’ll also be interesting to see how the pairs themselves work together. What styles will they bring to the drawing board, how they’d balance each other out or maybe capsize their own boat.

I sensed a little bit missing in the styles department last year with little to no New School being represented. Especially after having people like Jime Litwalk and Jesse Smith on previous seasons. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Ink Master kicks off on June 6th and we will be providing you with a weekly article to keep you up-to-date. You can read the next article in this series here.

See below some of the artists from previous seasons of Ink Master:

Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller

James Vaughn

James Vaughn

James Vaughn tattoo

Joey Hamilton:

Joey Hamilton

Joey Hamilton tattoo

Kelly Doty:

Kelly Doty

Kelly Doty art

Cleen Rock One:

Cleen Rock One

Cleen Rock One tattoo

Nate Beavers:

Nate Beavers

Nate Beavers tattoo

Next article

Baroque and Realism - Luc Suter