Ink Master

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Ink Master
Ink Master spike logo.png
Title card from the first four seasons
GenreReality television
Presented byDave Navarro
Narrated by
  • Matt Knight (season 1)
  • Rick Robles (season 2–present)
Theme music composerVanacore Music, Inc
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons13
No. of episodes186
Executive producer(s)
  • Steven Weinstock
  • Glenda Hersh
  • Andrea Richter
Production location(s)New York City
Camera setupMultiple-camera
Running time
  • 40–83 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseJanuary 17, 2012 (2012-01-17) –
April 14, 2020 (2020-04-14)
Related shows
External links

Ink Master is an American reality competition television series airing on Paramount Network. The show, which premiered on January 17, 2012 (when the channel was called Spike), features tattoo artists who compete in various challenges assessing their tattoo and other related artistic skills. They are judged by renowned tattoo artists and enthusiasts, with one or more contestants being eliminated each episode. The last contestant standing each season receives a $100,000 prize, the title of Ink Master and a feature in Inked Magazine. The series is produced by Original Media, which also produced the reality show Miami Ink.

Three spin-off shows, titled Ink Master: Redemption, Ink Master: Angels and Ink Master: Grudge Match,[1][2] have also been released.[3] The series has also released a number of special standalone episodes generally themed around an upcoming event or holiday such as Halloween.

The tenth season (titled as Ink Master: Return of the Masters) premiered on January 9, 2018, and aired its first two episodes on Spike before the network rebranded as the Paramount Network. On April 24, 2018, it was announced that Paramount Network had renewed the series for an eleventh season.[4] The twelfth season, titled Ink Master: Battle of the Sexes, premiered on June 11, 2019. On November 12, 2019, it was announced that the thirteenth season titled Ink Master: Turf War would premiere on January 7, 2020.[5]

On January 9, 2020 after multiple Myspace photos resurfaced from the internet featuring Oliver Peck sporting blackface and a costume with a large "N" across his chest, Ink Master announced he would no longer be associated with the show.[6]

On September 22, 2020, Paramount Network cancelled the series, as part of the network's shift to movies.[7]

International broadcasts[edit]

Ink Master airs on the Australian TV channel, 7mate. In the UK, Ink Master airs on truTV, also available in Ireland. In The Netherlands and Flanders both Ink Master and their Dutch-speaking adaptation Ink Master: Meesters van de Lage Landen (Ink Master: Masters of the Low Lands) are being aired on Spike Netherlands.

Show format[edit]

Basic format[edit]

All episodes aside from the finales have the following format, with some minor variations to the application of the format:

First, there is a Flash Challenge that will be evaluated based on how well an artist met the skill of the week. Some Flash Challenges involve tattooing, but typically, flash challenges do not incorporate the act of tattooing; but, instead, will require a non-related artistic skill (i.e. painting, hair cutting, etching, burning, etc.) The winner of the flash challenge wins the right to select their own human canvas in the elimination challenge, and, as of season two, pair up the other contestants with their human canvases.

After the Flash Challenge comes the Elimination Challenge, a further test of the skill of the week on a human canvas, typically incorporating a prominent style of tattooing. Once the contestants are paired up with their canvases, they are given the day to consult with their assignment. The next day, each contestant is given four to six hours to tattoo their design. Once completed, the contestants meet as a group with the judges and are critiqued one by one. The contestants then are dismissed, with four later being called back. The four typically represent a top two and bottom two for the week, though this breakdown can change. At the end of each episode, a winner is typically declared and one contestant is eliminated.

Special format[edit]

For the finale of season one, the final challenge was a marathon tattooing of up to 18 hours. The season two finale did not share this format, and instead consisted of each of the three finalists meeting with his or her respective canvas for four six-hour sessions to create a final piece. This final piece did not require a specific tattoo genre or location for the artist to tattoo. Instead, the artists were able to choose those aspects for themselves, and the only restriction they faced was a time limit. The season three finale followed a similar format to the season two finale, but the artists were allowed five seven-hour sessions for a cumulative 35-hour master canvas tattoo.


Judges on Ink Master
Judge Season
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Dave Navarro Main
Chris Nuñez Main
Oliver Peck Main

Musician Dave Navarro and tattoo artists Chris Núñez and Oliver Peck are the show's primary judges;[8] Dave and Chris have appeared in all episodes to date; however Oliver missed two episodes of season nine as he was having surgery after a heart attack.[9] Some episodes incorporate a fourth guest judge, usually a well-known tattoo artist who has knowledge or reputation in the style of tattoo (such as New School, Traditional, Japanese, Portrait, Black and Gray, etc.) chosen for the week's elimination challenge.

Season two judging was taken to a new level with audience voting participation through the Ink Master website, and also via Facebook voting. The audience vote affected the final ruling by the judges. Sebastian Murphy was eliminated from consideration by the judges in the season finale because he was the contestant whose work in the elimination challenges received the fewest votes by the audience.

Season three introduced the human canvas jury, in which the human canvases review each other's tattoos and nominate for elimination the artist who did the worst piece.

Season four introduced the elimination challenge winner's selection, where the challenge winner picks an artist for elimination.

Oliver Peck was forced out of his spot as Ink Master Judge following a controversy involving his reemerged blackface photo from his MySpace page. Judging by the photos, this event would likely have happened over a decade prior, when he was married to Kat Von D.[6] There was no word of a replacement before the series was officially cancelled.


Season Contestants Winner(s) Runner(s)-up Third place Prizes First aired Last aired
1 10 Shane O'Neill Tommy Helm James Vaughn
  • Title of Ink Master
  • $100,000
  • Feature in Inked magazine
January 17, 2012 March 6, 2012
2 16 Steve Tefft Sarah Miller Sebastian Murphy October 9, 2012 December 18, 2012
3 16 Joey Hamilton Jime Litwalk Katherine "Tatu Baby" Flores July 16, 2013 October 8, 2013
4 17 Scott Marshall Walter "Sausage" Frank Matti Hixson February 25, 2014 May 20, 2014
5 18 Jason Clay Dunn James "Cleen Rock One" Steinke Erik Siuda September 2, 2014 December 16, 2014
6 18 Dave Kruseman Chris Blinston Matt O'Baugh June 23, 2015 October 13, 2015
7 16 Anthony Michaels James "Cleen Rock One" Steinke Christian Buckingham
  • Title of Ink Master
  • $100,000
  • Feature in Inked magazine
March 1, 2016[10] May 24, 2016
8 18 Ryan Ashley Malarkey Gian Karle Cruz Kelly Doty
  • Title of Ink Master
  • $100,000
  • Feature in Inked magazine
  • Dodge Charger
  • A guest artist spot in either Nunez's or Peck's tattoo shop.
August 23, 2016[11] December 6, 2016
9 36 Old Town Ink
(Aaron "Bubba" Irwin and DJ Tambe)
Black Cobra Tattoos
(Katie McGowan and Matt O'Baugh)
Basilica Tattoo
(Christian Buckingham and Noelin Wheeler)
  • Title of Ink Master
  • Title of Master Shop
  • $200,000
  • Feature in Inked magazine
June 6, 2017 September 26, 2017
10 18 Josh Payne Juan Salgado Roly T-Rex
  • Title of Ink Master
  • $100,000
  • Feature in Inked magazine
January 9, 2018 April 24, 2018
11 18 Tony Medellin Teej Poole Tiffer Wright August 28, 2018 December 18, 2018
12 18 Laura Marie Dani Ryan Creepy Jason June 11, 2019 September 24, 2019
13 20 N/A[a] January 7, 2020 April 14, 2020
  1. ^ The live finale was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The three finalists (Bob Jones, Angel Rose and Jimmy Snaz) were awarded a monetary prize, but neither was named Ink Master


There have been various standalone holiday and special event themed episodes made that do not follow the series seasons. They have typically followed an upcoming or recently passed holiday. These episodes feature previous Ink Master contestants competing for smaller cash prizes.[12]

Ink Master licensed a Dutch/Belgian edition called Ink Master: Meesters van de Lage Landen (Masters of the Low Countries) to Spike NL in 2017. The format remains largely intact, filming takes place mainly around Amsterdam. The winner of the first season of this edition was the Belgian contestant "Djoels". The second season takes place in IJmuiden and was won by Belgian contestant Joyce.

Spin offs[edit]

Ink Master: Redemption[edit]

Spin-off series Ink Master: Redemption premiered in September 2015.[13][14] The spin-off features canvases who are unhappy with the tattoo they received during the competition. After discussing their tattoo with Navarro, the canvases are given the chance to confront the artist who did the original piece. The artist is offered the chance for redemption by being able to consult with the canvas on a new tattoo (or modification to improve their existing Ink Master piece). After reviewing the artist's new drawing, the canvas is given a no-strings-attached choice to either proceed with the new tattoo or leave the shop. Episodes sometimes feature a twist, such as rival artists returning to draw a design for the same unhappy canvas, potentially stealing the original artist's chance at redemption. Ink Master: Redemption was renewed for a second season to coincide with the premiere of season 7 of Ink Master.[15]

Ink Master: Angels[edit]

In June 2017, Spike announced a new spin off series titled Ink Master: Angels. The premise follows four female contestants from the eighth season of Ink Master - season winner Ryan Ashley Malarkey, Kelly Doty, Nikki Simpson and Gia Rose - as they travel around the United States to face other artists in tattoo challenges with a spot on season ten of Ink Master on the line.[16] The show premiered on October 3, 2017.

Ink Master: Grudge Match[edit]

On August 21, 2019, it was announced that a spin-off titled Ink Master: Grudge Match would premiere on October 1, 2019.[1][2] Judges for the series include former Ink Master contestants Cleen Rock One, DJ Tambe, and Ryan Ashley Malarkey.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Paramount Network Expands Hit "Ink Master" Franchise with Multi-Season Renewal, Spin-Off Series, Dedicated YouTube Channel". The Futon Critic. May 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b ""Ink Master: Grudge Match" Premieres Tuesday, October 1 at 10pm ET/PT on Paramount Network". The Futon Critic. August 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Bibel, Sara (May 27, 2015). "'Ink Master' Renewed for Season 7 by Spike TV; Network Orders Spin-Off 'Ink Master: Redemption'". TV by the Numbers. Tribune Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Petski, Denise (April 24, 2018). "'Ink Master' Renewed For Season 11 By Paramount Network". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Video: New Season of Paramount Network's "Ink Master: Turf War" Trailer". The Futon Critic. November 12, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Oliver Peck leaves 'Ink Master' after blackface controversy; Paramount Network weighs in".
  7. ^ Otterson, Joe (September 22, 2020). "Paramount Network Rebrands, Doubles Down on Movies and Minis (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Leupp, Thomas. "Ink Master | TV". Retrieved 2014-05-13.
  9. ^ "Ink Master season 9: Judge Oliver Peck doing well after heart attack". Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Ravindran, Manori. "Renewed and returning: "Real Housewives," "Ink Master"". Real Screen. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  11. ^ "A First Look At Ink Mster Season 8". Youtube. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Sneak Peek: HallowInk - Video Clips - Ink Master |". Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  13. ^ "Ink Master: Redemption Website". Archived from the original on 2015-09-10.
  14. ^ "'Ink Master' Renewed for Season 7 by Spike TV; Network Orders Spin-Off 'Ink Master: Redemption'". TV By The Numbers by 2015-05-27. Archived from the original on 2016-02-11. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise (2015-10-14). "'Ink Master: Redemption' Renewed For Season 2 By Spike". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  16. ^ ""Ink Master: Angels" Spreads Its Wings". 2017-06-05. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  17. ^ "Ryan Ashley Malarkey Dishes About 'Grudge Match' and Moving to Colorado". Female Tattooers. 2019-10-08. Retrieved 2019-11-07.

External links[edit]