Ink Master is one the most popular competitive shows around, with plenty of fans who are “inked” and plenty who aren’t. The reality-competition show has been on for 12 crazy seasons. The show first aired in January 2012 and features tattoo artists competing in various challenges testing their tattooing skills. After being judged by renowned tattoo artists, one contestant or more is eliminated until one is left standing. Whoever wins earns $100,000 and the title of “Ink Master.” Since the show’s premiere, there have been many who have won this title. But where are they now?
Season 1: Shane O’Neill
Artist Shane O’Neill had the honor of being the first Ink Master when the show first aired. O’Neill is best known for his realistic artistry, including portraits, wildlife, and horror. The Delaware native graduated from the University of Arts in Philadelphia. He also worked as a freelance illustrator, with some of his artwork being featured in various tattoo magazines. His creation of a Japanese calf-sleeve is what won him the Ink Master title. Currently, O’Neill has his own tattoo shop, Infamous Tattoo, in Delaware.
Season 2: Steve Tefft
In season two, Steve Tefft won the championship title, but this season came with a catch. The viewers and fans of the show had a say in who won the title, and fans favored Tefft’s work. The artist, who drew a full horror back tattoo depicting a woman and skull, owns his own tattoo shop, 12 Tattoos, in Gordon, Connecticut.
Season 3: Joey Hamilton
In season three, a human canvas jury was brought on. The human canvas reviewed each other’s tattoos which led to artist Joey Hamilton winning. Hamilton’s creation of an aquatic scene depicting a partial nude mermaid is what got him the title. The season three winner owns his own shop in Las Vegas called Revolt Tattoos and is married to body instructor Liana Hamilton.
Season 4: Scott Marshall
For the fourth season, the show introduced the elimination challenge, where the challenge winner picks an artist for elimination. Scott Marshall beat the odds with his piece, a multi-colored back tattoo depicting a surreal imagery including a heart, serpents, and a woman. Unfortunately, Marshall passed away at the age of 41, a year after he won the Ink Master title.
Season 5: Jason Clay Dunn
In the show’s fifth season, Jason Clay Dunn returned from season three to compete for the ink master title. This season also brought back other rivals that duked it out, but it was Dunn won with a Japanese-inspired cartoon of a girl riding a tiger. After returning to claim the title, Dunn opened up his own shop, Tattoo Alchemy, which he still owns.
Season 6: Dave Kruseman
In the sixth season, Dave Kruseman won the title. This season was Masters vs. Apprentice, and Kruseman won with a scene of a ship that was framed with natural imagery including roses and feathers. He is currently tattooing at Olde Line West in San Diego, California.
Season 7: Anthony Michaels
Season seven brought back the veterans, but the underdog is the one that took the crown. Anthony Michaels from Arizona won with a full-chest dragon tattoo. Michaels, who is married to beauty YouTuber Kasey Michaels, has his own shop, Twenty Five Twelve, in his home state.
Season 8: Ryan Ashley
Ryan Ashley is the number one fan favorite among all the winners from Ink Master, and it’s easy to see why. The young tattoo artist won season eight with her talents in black-and-gray designs with lace detail and beadwork. Ashley was the first female competitor to win Ink Master. As of now, Ashley is married and expecting her first child with her husband. Ashley also still appears on the Ink Master spin-off shows as a host and owns her own antiques and oddities shops in Pennsylvania.
Season 9: Old Town Ink
Old Town Ink consisted of Bubba Irwin and DJ Tambe. The two won season nine, but this season was different. This season’s theme was “shop wars”, which had teams of two compete with other shops. Irwin and Tambe still run their shop, Branded Tattoo, together. Irwin also co-owns Old Town Ink, and Tambe works with Bad Apple Tattoo.
Season 10: Joshua Payne
In season ten, Joshua Payne was the Ink Master. Payne was on the team of DJ Tambe, as season ten consisted of three teams of six artists that were led by former winners of Ink Master. Payne is still creating masterpieces in Cortland, New York at the Alchemist Art Studios.
Season 11: Tony Medellin
A grudge match was formed between two former rivals in season eleven. Veterans Cleen Rock One and Christian Buckingham coached two teams of nine, where Tony Medellin took home the prize. Medellin was on Cleen Rock’s team and won with an image of a multi-colored back tattoo depicting a Viking-helmed icy skull. Medellin has taken his experience as a tattoo artist and created his company, Gold English Goods, an online store heavily inspired by his artistry.
Season 12: Laura Marie
The show’s most recent season was won by its second female winner, Laura Marie, in a battle of the sexes competition. Marie is a New York native and the co-owner of Atomic Roc Tattoo in Rochester, New York. And there are the winners of the popular competition!