Ink Master (season 1)

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Ink Master (season 1)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 8
Original network Spike
Original release

January 12 (2012-01-12) – March 6, 2012 (2012-03-06)

Additional information
Host(s) Dave Navarro
Judges Oliver Peck
Chris Núñez
No. of contestants 10
Winner Shane O'Neill
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2

The first season of the tattoo reality competition Ink Master debuted on Spike on January 17, 2012 and concluded on March 6, 2012 with a total of 8 episodes. The show follows the lives of ten tattoo artists competing against each other in an elimination-style competition leaving 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.

Second Runner-Up James Vaughn returned to the show for Ink Master Revenge. He was the last veteran artist to come to the competition, arriving in episode 8. He was then eliminated in episode 12, right before the season finale.


Guest judges[edit]

Contestants and Progress[edit]

Flash Challenge Progress[edit]

Episode Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Most wins
Flash Challenge
Josh Bili Al Josh Shane Tommy Shane Josh
2 wins

Elimination Challenge Progress[edit]

Artist Name [1] 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 3RD PLACE
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, Léa, James, B-TAT, Josh, Tommy, Jeremy, Heather, Bili

 INKMASTER  The contestant won the competition and was named Ink Master.
 RUNNER UP  The contestant was the runner-up on Ink Master.
 3RD PLACE  The contestant was 3rd place on Ink Master.
 WIN  The contestant won best tattoo of the week.
 HIGH  The contestant was given an honorable mention by the judges.
 HIGH  The contestant was considered to be among the top.
 LOW  The contestant was considered to be in the bottom.
 LOW  The contestant was among the bottom group in the judges recall.
 OUT  The contestant was eliminated from the competition.
 OUT  The contestant won the flash challenge but was eliminated from the competition.


Episode 1: Fresh Meat[edit]

First aired January 17, 2012

  • Flash Challenge Winner: 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 Winner: 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 Winner: 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 Winner: 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 Winner: 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 Winner: Tommy Helm
  • Elimination Tattoo: Pin-ups
  • Best Tattoo: Shane O'Neill
  • Bottom two/three: James Vaughn, Léa Vendetta & Tommy Helm
  • Eliminated: Léa Vendetta — For poorly rendering 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 Winner: 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.


  • 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.[2]


  1. ^ Ink Master (7 December 2011). "Ink Master To Premiere Tuesday, January 17 On Spike". Spike. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Spike. "Tattoo Nightmares: Bios - Tommy Helm". Spike. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 

External links[edit]