Ink Master (season 1)

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Ink Master (season 1)
Country of origin United States
Original channel Spike
Original run January 17, 2012 (2012-01-17) – March 6, 2012 (2012-03-06)
Season chronology
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Season 2

Ink Master (season 1) is the first season of the Spike tattooing competition series, Ink Master

It follows the lives of ten tattoo artists competing against each other an elimination-style competition that will leave the last person standing with the title of Ink Master and a $100,000 grand prize. The show is hosted and judged by Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Other judges include former Miami Ink cast member Chris Núñez, and accomplished tattoo artist Oliver Peck.

The winner was Shane O'Neill of Middletown, Delaware.

The success of the show lead to 3 more seasons, with season four premiering on February 2014.


Episodes begin with a Flash Challenge, a task that usually does not deal with tattooing itself, but has contestants utilize skills related to tattooing in an unusual way. Most of the time the skills highlighted in the Flash Challenge will be needed to complete the Elimination Tattoo. The winner of the Flash Challenge gets to pick which human canvas they would like to tattoo during the elimination tattoo, while other contestants are assigned a canvas by random draw. The contestants are then given a chance to meet with their canvas before tattooing them the next day when they will be given a set amount of time to do the tattoo. A judging panel then commences where the best tattoos of the week are recognized, the weak tattoos are pointed out and one contestant is eliminated from the competition.[1]

Contestants and Progress[edit]

Elimination Challenge Progress[edit]

Contestant Elimination chart
Artist Name [2] Age # Hometown 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Shane O'Neill 39 Middletown, Delaware HIGH IN WIN HIGH *IN WIN *WIN INK MASTER
Tommy Helm 38 Brentwood, New York WIN IN IN IN IN *LOW HIGH RUNNER-UP
James Vaughn 38 Asheboro, North Carolina IN WIN IN IN HIGH LOW LOW OUT
Josh Woods 30 Nashville, Tennessee *IN IN LOW *LOW WIN HIGH OUT
Léa Vendetta 40 Boca Raton, Florida IN LOW HIGH WIN LOW OUT
Bili Vegas 29 New York, New York IN *IN LOW LOW OUT
Heather Sinn 41 Los Angeles, California IN IN IN OUT
Al Fliction 42 Brooklyn, New York IN LOW *OUT
Jeremy Miller 27 Austin, Texas LOW OUT
Brian "B-TAT" Robinson 30 East Orange, New Jersey OUT

Credit Order: Shane, Al Fliction, Léa, James, B-TAT, Josh, Tommy, Jeremy, Heather, Bili

# ages are at time of contest)
* The contestant won the flash challenge
     The contestant won the competition and was named Ink Master.
     The contestant was the runner-up on Ink Master.
     The contestant was eliminated from the competition.
     The contestant won best tattoo of the week.
     The contestant was given an honourable mention.
     The contestant was considered to be in the top
     The contestant was in the Bottom 2/3.


Episode 1: Fresh Meat[edit]

First aired January 17, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Josh Woods*
  • Elimination Tattoo: Coverups
  • Best Tattoo: Tommy Helm
  • Bottom two/three: Brian "B-TAT" Robinson & Jeremy Miller
  • Eliminated: Brian "B-TAT" Robinson - Although Jeremy did not finish his tattoo, it was technically solid. B-Tat's tattoo was too sketchy to demonstrate adequate technical skills to progress.

Episode 2: Botched Head Tattoo[edit]

"First aired January 24, 2012"

  • Flash Challenge: Bili Vegas
  • Elimination Tattoo: Tribal Tattoos
  • Best Tattoo: James Vaughn
  • Bottom two/three: Al Fliction, Léa Vendetta & Jeremy Miller
  • Eliminated: Jeremy Miller - For failing to do one clean pass tattoo, and making too many excuses for his poor tattoos.

Episode 3: Pasties and a Camel Toe[edit]

First aired January 31, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Al Fliction
  • Elimination Tattoo: Black and Grey
  • Best Tattoo: Shane O'Neill
  • Bottom two/three: Al Fliction, Bili Vegas & Josh Woods
  • Eliminated: Al Fliction - Despite having a good concept, and artistic skills, the judges felt Al lacked the technical skills needed to win.

Episode 4: Ink Disaster Piece[edit]

First aired February 7, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Josh Woods
  • Elimination Tattoo: Photo Realism
  • Best Tattoo: Léa Vendetta
  • Bottom two/three: Bili Vegas, Heather Sinn & Josh Woods
  • Eliminated: Heather Sinn - For her very poor tattoo execution, and having overall mediocre performances.

Episode 5: Game On[edit]

First aired February 14, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Shane O'Neill
  • Elimination Tattoo: American Traditional
  • Best Tattoo: Josh Woods
  • Bottom two/three: Bili Vegas & Léa Vendetta
  • Eliminated: Bili Vegas - For being in the bottom three times, making too many excuses for his poor American Traditional style skills, and not accepting responsibility for his shortcomings.

Episode 6: Permanent Mistakes[edit]

First aired February 21, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Tommy Helm
  • Elimination Tattoo: Pinups
  • Best Tattoo: Shane O'Neill
  • Bottom two/three: James Vaughn, Léa Vendetta & Tommy Helm
  • Eliminated: Léa Vendetta - For messing up her pin-up's hands, failing to control proportion, and not being as well-rounded as the other artists.

Episode 7: Picture Imperfect[edit]

First aired February 28, 2012

  • Flash Challenge: Shane O'Neill
  • Elimination Tattoo: Portraits
  • Best Tattoo: Shane O'Neill
  • Bottom two/three: James Vaughn & Josh Woods
  • Eliminated: Josh Woods - For not having adequate experience outside his favourite genre, and poor execution of his portrait tattoo - despite having an overall strong performance.

Episode 8: Ink Master Revealed[edit]

First aired March 6, 2012

The final three compete in an 18 hour tattoo marathon. The winner of Ink Master is revealed.

  • Final Three: James Vaughn, Shane O'Neill & Tommy Helm
  • Elimination Tattoo: 12 hour Tattoo, and 6 hour Tattoo
  • Ink Master: Shane O'Neill

Chris Nuñez stated that Tommy Helm's pin up girl was the best tattoo all season. Tommy chose a pin-up to show the panel he was capable of doing a gorgeous pin up with perfect hands and a perfect face. Oliver Peck also mentioned that he felt that Tommy's 12-hour tattoo of a grim reaper was his most "bad ass" tattoo.

Cast members[edit]


After the show[edit]

  • Runner up Tommy Helm now has his own show entitled "Tattoo Nightmares." The show centers around himself, Jasmine Rodriguez, and Big Gus helping clients to cover up tattoos they regret, creating new tattoos for a fresh start. The show currently airs on Spike.[3]


  1. ^ Knowles, David (13 January 2012). "Ink Master: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Ink Master (7 December 2011). "Ink Master To Premiere Tuesday, January 17 On Spike". Spike. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Spike. "Tattoo Nightmares: Bios - Tommy Helm". Spike. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 

External links[edit]