The 10 Biggest Secrets on Ink Master


Ink Master is a reality TV show on SPIKE. It premiered in 2012, and it features competitions where tattoo artists attempt a variety of challenges and are judged on their efforts. The show runs for a season, with contestants eliminated each week. The winner is awarded $100,000 and the Ink Master title. The show’s judges and guest judges are the best artists in the business and tattoo experts.

The regular judges include Dave Navarro, rock musician, and tattoo artists Oliver Peck and Chris Núñez. Núñez owns Handcrafted Tattoo and Art Gallery in Miami, Florida. Peck is a co-owner of the Elm Street Tattoo in Dallas, Texas; True Tattoo in Hollywood, California; and he holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for tattooing 415 number 13 tattoos within 24 hours. Navarro is a rock musician and actor. He is known primarily for his membership in Jane’s Addiction, and for his role as host of Ink Master.

The three regular judges have appeared in all shows aired so far. While the show presents a fascinating, grueling competition showcasing superb ink art, it has been petitioned by the Writers Guild of America East for potential rights violations with its Original Media employees who claim the they have been underpaid for overtime, and that one Ink Master employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. But regardless of its operational issues, the show remains a riveting and popular competition, and is credited for drawing many new people to the artistic world of tattooing.

Masters and Apprentices: Love, Hate Relationships

Apprenticeships are hard to find, as they are not a standard program. Masters must agree to take on students to learn with them. Apprentices are hazed heavily all the time. They are forced to scrub floors, clean toilets, wash cars, picked up dry cleaning, picked up girlfriends and were broke a lot. There is no standard period for an apprenticeship. Some work for years with their masters to gain skills, and wait for their masters to decide it is time for them to work on a real person.

Masters must teach their apprentices how to make needles. It is a tradition which must be passed from master to student, and many needles are trashed though it takes about half an hour to make only one. One of the biggest tension between apprentices and masters comes when the apprentice feels ready to tattoo, but their master doesn’t think they are ready. Ink Master puts masters and apprentices together, and their close relationships during the competitions makes tempers fly and passions erupt. The toughest apprentices don’t care if they put their masters under the bus to win. The $100,000 prize keeps masters and apprentices clashing.

Chris Nunez: Graffiti Artist

Chris used to paint all over the neighborhood. He loved the risk, the colors, the friendships, and all the excitement. His personal tag was “ink one”. His father told him that if he wrote his name on the wall that he would break Chris’ knuckles. His father used to help him paint art on the walls by bringing out lights so that he and his friends could finish their artwork. His dad was his best friend, but his dad died when he was just 18. After that, he was angry with life, missed his dad, got into all kinds of trouble, and decided to become a tattoo artist.

Human Canvases Pass Out

Human canvases pass out in the chair sometimes. They also occasionally vomit and often cry. Chris Núñez had it happen to him, and he kicked the human canvas who passed out in the tattoo chair out of his tattoo studio. He told her it was not the day for her to have a tattoo. But, he had to work on a totally different human canvas.

Tattoo artists also have their problems. They emotionally break down. They have been caught smoking pot. In fact, one of the most talented contestants was sent home for it. They also get into fist fights, shouting matches, and in one case, they sue the stars of the show. Núñez and Peck were sued for sexual harassment by a former PA for the show.

Dave Navarro: Illuminati? published an article and video online with theories that David Navarro’s tattoos are heavily derived from occult symbolism. Navarro’s elbow supposedly has the unicursal hexagram known as the Thelema symbol, which may indicate that he is a Thelemite. His wrist purportedly has the Fnord Eye of Satan, his neck has the logo for the Church of Satan called the Satanic or Leviathan Cross. His palm also carried the pagan wedding symbol of a satanic snake.

Oliver Peck’s Toothpick Trademark

Oliver Peck was addicted to gum all his life. He chewed it so much that his teeth and jaws started giving him medical problems. Oliver never has it out of his mouth unless he is making out with his girlfriend. He even sleeps with it, which bothers her a lot. He even wore it during a scuba class he took.

Dave Navarro’s Mother Was Killed Violently

His mother’s death was tragic and brutal. His mother’s death resulted from a form of domestic violence called separation assault. The violence took place when his mother tried to leave her partner John Riccardi. After her funeral, Navarro became a full-blown drug addict from that night onward. His friends said that Navarro OD’d and died several times. His visit to see his mother’s killer was his hope that he would have closure from the ordeal of his childhood 20 years earlier.

Navarro went to San Quentin to see him, walk out, and leave the killer there. He created a documentary, Mourning Son, about that part of his life. He said that the story makes him feel shameful, and that it feels ugly to tell it. But, it was the darkest, most horrible, profound even in his life.

Scott Marshall, Ink Master Winner Dies at 41

Season 4 Ink Master Winner Scott Marshall died of a cocaine overdose. He died in a hotel room, and had called his wife to let her know that he wasn’t feeling well. His shop in Chicago was far from his home, so he typically would spend the night across from his tattoo shop when his day had been long. His wife was told that his heart was involved and that he died in his sleep. It wasn’t until later that news of a cocaine overdose arose. A tribute to him was posted in October, 2015, posted by Ink Masters, and filled with his greatest moments on the show. He left his wife and three children. His talent was incredible.

Dave Navarro Poses Nude for PETA

It’s not so much about the clothes. Navarro is a rock star. It’s more about the slogan, “Ink, Not Mink” for PETA’s causes, and the fact that almost every inch of him is front and center with glorious tattoos bared. He also posed nude for a second PETA ad, but made up to look as if he is bleeding. The message for this photo was to choose cruelty free products because animal testing kills innocent animals. Though the ads filled the press, Navarro isn’t scheduled to film Ink Master nude just yet.

Dave Navarro Quits Drugs

Navarro took every kind of drug possible. He said that his turn-around came when he had a huge party at his house. He was inside the bathroom hitting rock cocaine, and the party was going on without him. He realized that the drugs were getting in the way of his life, his time with his friends, his ability to work and make money, and to enjoy life. He says he was in and out of rehab many times throughout his twenties. Now, he does daily meditations and struggles always to keep himself in check.

Tattoo Etiquette Per Dave Navarro

Navarro says that clients have many ways to screw up the tattoo experience for the artist. While Ink Master is an entertaining competition, it is imperative to let the artist do his job, and for the client to know the process will be uncomfortable.

Here’s his list after hosting Ink Master for eight years:

  • Be informed and know exactly what you want to do.
  • Do know your artist and what talents he or she has.
  • Know the genre you want, and find the artist who excels in it.
  • Let the artist focus.
  • That tattoo will sting, and you are going to be in pain.
  • The artist knows best. If the artist says it’s not a good idea, it isn’t.
  • Don’t question the artist after the process starts. Prepare before it.

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