We all get mesmerized by the tattoos we have seen on Ink Master, every contestant on that show is talented and the way they all engraved cool, edgy, and beautiful tattoos is a wonderful site to see. The show has been airing since 2012, and since then every season has been grand and has introduced us to tattoos in a deeper form. Ink Master’s IMDb rating of 7.4 out of 10 is enough to prove that the show is not like other reality television shows. Presented by Dave Navarro and Joel Madden, Ink Master has a massive fan following all over the world.
Tattoo artists from all over the country participate in the show and famous tattoo artists and enthusiasts judge them on their artistic abilities. It is a close competition, meaning every single contestant is so talented and performs marvelously. First, there are Flash Challenges, and after winning that challenge the tattoo artists get the chance of having a human canvas to showcase their talent. They get proper topics to complete their work and after months of them representing their skills, a final winner is declared. A lot of the people started watching the show a little late, so they are not well-versed with the old winners. So, let’s look at the Ink Master winners list, and how are the winners doing after conquering the title and proving their art.
1. Shane O’Neill
The first season of Ink Master premiered in 2012, it was the beginning and the contestants were not that many in number. Shane O’Neill became the winner of the first season of Ink Master, he is well-known in the country and has paved his way toward success. He is well-known for his realistic tattoos and black and grey portraits. He has a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts and has been in the business since 1997, his work has been published in many magazines such as Tattoo Society, Rise Magazine, and Wet Red Ink.
Shane O’Neill made a skull and Japanese-style tattoo in the last battle of Ink Master, he won tattoo of the week around 4 times in the show. If you are aware of the world of tattoos, you would know about the Chaudesaigues Award. For those who don’t know, this award is given to the people who excel in tattooing and Shane O’Neill was on the jury for that award, he even launched his own company after winning the title. He owns System One Tattoo Products, which is a company that sells items related to tattooing and piercing. Shane O’Neill won the Title of Ink Master, $100,000, and was also featured in the Inked magazine.
2. Steve Tefft
Steve Tefft was able to win season 2 of Ink Master, he said that he liked tattoos since he was just 5 years old, and when he saw the tattoo of the grim reaper he could not fathom it and was instantly interested in the work. He belongs from Connecticut, he masters in the horror tattoo genre, and when he was a kid he would draw in his books. In the 1990s, Steve Tefft got into the world of tattooing and bought all the equipment, and started on his friend’s hands.
He realized and decided to turn his passion into a profession, and started working at a tattoo shop and later opened his own shop. After winning Ink Master he used the money to expand his business, 12 Tattoos is the name of his shop and he used the money to make that shop the ideal place for tattooing. He is grateful for the experience he got and just like Shane O’Neill he also won $100,000 and a feature in the Inked magazine.
3. Joey Hamilton
Joey Hamilton won season 3 of Ink Master, he was in the U.S. Air Force for a while, and after working in the force for over a decade, he started being interested in tattooing. He was already an artist, and after a friend suggested to him that he should try tattooing he got into it. Before appearing on the show and showing his talent, he had an experience of 17 years, and his work was loved by everyone on the show. He has also appeared on the television series Inked and Ink Master Redemption after winning the title in season 3, after winning he opened his shop with Walter “Sausage” Frank who was his fellow contestant, the shop is called Revolt Tattoos, and it is now in so many locations. Just like the early contestants, he also won $100,000 and a feature in the Inked magazine.
4. Scott Marshall
Sometimes life has different plans, Scott Marshall was the winner of Ink Master season 4 and he had a marvelous career ahead of him but sadly, in 2015 he died of a heroin overdose, and that happened just after 1 year of his win. He was loved a lot and when he won everyone was shunned as Walter was the favorite artist till the end but in the end, Scott Marshall was the real winner, he won $100, 000 and a feature in Inked magazine. His wife revealed the news of his death, and Spike TV and the producers and makers of the show gave condolences to Scott everyone was really sad about his demise. He had a great career ahead of him but that was the end that was written for him.
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5. Jason Clay Dunn
Jason was a master tattoo artist by the time he was 19, he has tried his luck twice on the show and the second time he was the winner. He was also in season 3 but went till season 6 but managed to win the title in season 5. He was appreciated for his work in Neo-Asian style, and also got the support of fans for fighting his anxiety issues. He had a studio called Tattoo Alchemy but after 10 years in business, it was closed down in 2020. He appeared on the spinoff Ink Master: Redemption, and now according to his website he does small tattoos and for large commissions. Jason Clay Dunn decided to take time off to be with his family and loved ones, he is grateful to be doing what he has done throughout his life. He also won $100,000 and a feature in the Inked magazine.
6. Dave Kruseman
By season 6, a lot of things got changed and this season had some new twists. He is really proud of his piece that made him win the title in season 6, it was a nautical-themed tattoo after all. He was really successful before starting his journey in Ink Master, he has a parlor, Olde Line Tattoo, and he works in that shop with his wife. The people had to get appointments ahead of 8 months to get a tattoo at his shop and after he won Ink Master his business skyrocketed and he opened another tattoo parlor but unfortunately due to the pandemic the shop closed. Dave has been doing his work for over 20 years now and he said that he is thankful that he got into the business and does not regret a bit coming into the business. He won the title of Ink Master winner, $100,000, a feature in Inked magazine and the 2015 Dodge Challenger.
7. Anthony Michaels
Anthony Michaels did not just win the title in season 7, he also won hearts because of his nature and talent. He even returned to the show to help and teach the artists. He now has a tattoo and piercing shop called Twenty-Five Twelve in Tucson Arizona, he still loves to do black and grey portraits. Anthony Michaels also won the title of Ink Master, $100,000, and a feature in the Inked magazine just like his fellow winners of Ink Master in the earlier seasons.
8. Ryan Ashley Malarke
This was the season when a woman won the title, Ryan Ashely Malarkey was the first woman to win the show. She has also appeared in the spin-offs of Ink Master, she is a fashion designer, and she is inspired by that, and that can be seen in her tattoo style. She completed her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and when she started tattooing, her fashion designer reflected on that. Her win gave a voice to a lot of women, tattooing is a male-dominated business and obviously, there is a stigma around women working in the industry. She only had the experience of over 5 years when she won the show, her artwork was appreciated and loved by the people. Ryan Ashley won the title of Ink Master, $100,000, featured in Inked magazine, Dodge Charger, and a guest artist spot in either Núñez’s or Peck’s tattoo shop. She has a beautiful family now.
9. Aaron “Bubba” Irwin and DJ Tambe
Season 9 was another group season and this time “Old Time Ink” was the winner, people fondly enjoyed their appearance. They both fought hard and tried their best to win the show and the title. Aaron Irwin also known as Bubba and DJ Tambe won the title of Ink Master, and the title of Master Shop, along with $200,000 and a feature in Inked magazine. Aaron Irwin now works at Nashville’s Branded Tattoo Company and he is the owner, DJ Tambe is in Las Vegas and works at Bad Apple Tattoo, DJ Tambe has also returned to Ink Master as judge quite a few times now, and Aaron Irwin is still the co-owner of Old Time Ink, and they have two locations in Mesa and Scottsdale in Arizona.
10. Josh Payne
Josh Payne is well-known in the world of tattoo artists, so when he was in the show it was obvious that it would be rather hard to beat Josh Payne and it was the reality. He won season 10 of Ink Master and even came back as a judge in season 12 and also toured throughout the country. Josh Payne has said that after doing the show, his career expanded and he loved every minute of that show, after doing the show and also winning he made a lot of impact on the work front. Josh Payne said that he loved touring and spending time with new tattoo artists. He also thinks that men and women are equal when it comes to work, what matters is their ideas and not what they are attached to. Josh Payne won the title of Ink Master, $100,000, and a feature in Inked magazine, now he works at Art by Scissorhands, and Alchemist Art Studio in Cortland, New York.
11. Tony Medellin
Ink Master started with a really less audience but by that time the fans have only grown, so winning Ink Master for a tattoo enthusiast is a big deal, and Tony Medellin thinks that too. After winning season 11 of Ink Master, Tony said that he still can’t believe that he won the show and he thinks that it is always going to be hard for him to believe that. He said that he went into the show with zero expectations, and thought that he would just be able to last a few episodes but the fact that he won still surprises him. Tony Medellin won the title of Ink Master, $100,000, and an obvious feature in the Inked magazine. Now, he has expanded his career and works in a lot of sectors, such as clothing, gold, and English goods. He is still attached to tattooing via his clothing business and said that clothes make a statement.
12. Laura Marie
Laura Marie is the second female winner in Ink Master, she is based in Rochester, and her work still gets appreciated on social media. She said that one of her teachers just sent her name to the competition and surprisingly she got selected. She also talked about how it was hard for her to adjust at first because all the new people and all of them are really talented. Laura Marie said that she felt anxious from the very first day because she was just thinking about what the judges would say and everything. She also talked about the drama of that season. In the end, Laura Marie is really grateful for all the experience she got, she is really young at the age of 26 she has her own business in partnership with her friends. Her business is really flourishing and she is acting in the tattoo world. Laura Marie won the title of Ink Master, $100,000, and a feature in Inked magazine.
13. Bob Jones, Angel Rose, and Jimmy Snaz
You may be wondering why there are three winners of Ink Master in season 13, well the answer is the Covid-19 pandemic, when the pandemic started a lot of shows had to cancel their plans and do a different ending in the end. Season 13 started in 2020 during the month of January and after that, the lockdowns started and everything was just shut off. So, Bob Jones, Angel Rose, and Jimmy Snaz got the prize, they all shared the money but no one was declared the clear winner, and no one got the title of Ink Master that season. The finale was going to be grand but it all got canceled, Bob Jones, Angel Rose, and Jimmy Snaz shared the prize money but the amount was not disclosed and three of them revealed their canvases on YouTube live.
14. Season 14
Season 14 is currently ongoing right now, it was released on 7 September 2022 and will air on 2 November 2022, and the winner of Ink Master season 14 will get the title of Ink Master and $250,000.