Title card from the first four seasons
|Presented by||Dave Navarro|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||108|
|Location(s)||New York City|
|Running time||41–42 minutes
83 min. (season 3 finale)
39 min. (season 5 finale)
61 min. (seasons 6–8 finale)
|Production company(s)||Original Media|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original release||January 17, 2012– present|
Ink Master is an American reality competition television series airing on Spike which premiered on January 17, 2012. The show 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 and the title of Ink Master. The show is produced by Original Media which also produced the reality show Miami Ink.
The sixth season of the show premiered on June 23, 2015. In May, the network renewed Ink Master for a seventh season which premiered on March 1, 2016. The eighth season of the tattoo reality competition Ink Master (subtitled as Ink Master: Peck vs. Nuñez) premiered on August 23, 2016 on Spike. Season 8 had its first female winner. The show has been renewed for seasons 9 and 10. A spin-off show, titled Ink Master: Redemption, has also been released. The series has also released a number of special standalone episodes generally themed around an upcoming event or holiday such as Halloween.
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.
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.
Judging and Judges
Musician Dave Navarro and tattoo artists Chris Núñez and Oliver Peck are the show's primary judges and have appeared in all episodes to date. 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 from his/her perspective.
Season five brought back Joshua Hibbard and Jason Clay Dunn from season three, along with eight other pairs of rivals. The winner's worst selection did not return for season five.
|Season||Contestants||Winner||Runner Up||Third Place||Prize||Air dates||Judges (chair order)|
|1||10||Shane O'Neill||Tommy Helm||James Vaughn||
||January 17, 2012 – March 6, 2012||Oliver Peck||Dave Navarro||Chris Nuñez|
|2||16||Steve Tefft||Sarah Miller||Sebastian Murphy||October 9, 2012 – December 18, 2012|
|3||16||Joey "Hollywood" 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||16||Jason Clay Dunn||Cleen Rock One||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||Cleen Rock One||Christian Buckingham||
||March 1, 2016 – May 24, 2016|
|8||18||Ryan Ashley Malarkey||Gian Karle Cruz||Kelly Doty||
||August 23, 2016 - December 6, 2016|
||June 6, 2017|
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.
Ink Master licensed a Dutch/Belgian edition called Ink Master: Meesters van de Lage Landen (Masters of the Lower Lands) to Spike NL in 2017. The format remains largely intact, filming takes place mainly around Amsterdam.
Ink Master: Redemption
Spin-off series Ink Master: Redemption premiered in September 2015. 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.
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- "'Ink Master' Renewed for Season 7 by Spike TV; Network Orders Spin-Off 'Ink Master: Redemption'". TV By The Numbers by zap2it.com. 2015-05-27. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Petski, Denise (2015-10-14). "‘Ink Master: Redemption’ Renewed For Season 2 By Spike". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-05-01.