JAMIE DAVIES OF TATTOOZ INK TAKES A RUN AT ‘INK MASTERS’
Unless you have a black light, you won’t find a single tattoo on Jamie Davies’ body. But that hasn’t stopped the owner of Tattooz Ink from making his mark on his industry - and today, his sights are set on becoming Ink Master.
He’s one of the 16 elite artists selected for the second season of “Ink Masters,” which premieres Oct. 9 on Spike TV. The winner takes home a $100,000 prize and the coveted title of Ink Master. About 13,000 tattoo artists applied to be on the show.
“We encouraged folks to get a hold of us if they felt they had the skills for the new season,” says Chris Rantamaki, Vice President of Original Programming for Spike TV, who oversees production of Ink Master. “The casting team just scours all of the United States, searching for the best tattoo artists.”
What made Davies stand above the rest? “The first thing was his artwork,” Rantamaki says. “He specializes in portraits and realism, and he’s great with color. Look at the eyes in his portraits - it’s really difficult to get that realistic look. It’s like there’s a spark of life in the eyes.”
The casting process is arduous, and “you don’t officially know you’re going until you’re ready to leave,” says Davies, 36. “Then you just pack up and ship off. Everything’s top secret - you have to keep it a secret from your family and coworkers and everybody.”
That can be tricky for a family man who owns a busy, upscale tattoo and body piercing studio. “I made up a cover story about working with another artist on the East Coast. It made enough sense that it got us through until I got back,” Davies says.
The contestants’ first challenge was laid down before they even set foot in their New York City living quarters, a loft with a tattoo shop downstairs. “It was a flash challenge, testing our artistic skill,” Davies says. “It’s something random. Last season, they did pin-striping cars and graffiti - it’s something that has nothing to do with tattooing, but is artistically based.”
Tattooing is a career that the Foothill High School alum “fell into” at a young age. “I’d go with my friends as they turned 18 and design tattoos for them,” he says. “I thought you couldn’t make a good living off of art; I never realized I’d go so far with it.”
After working at other tattoo studios for almost 10 years, he opened Tattooz Ink in 2003. He calls tattooing a “perfect fit for my artistic skill set,” as it includes medical aspects as well as the challenge of translating clients’ ideas into art that looks good for a lifetime. He has strived to be the best from day one, and spending time with the masters of his trade was a thrill.
“You go to the challenge thinking you’re going there to compete: not to make friends, but to win. You’re forced to live 24 hours a day with other top artists, and that really became the highlight of the whole experience for me - not only to be critiqued by judges and to compete with the other guys, but to work with them instead of against them,” Davies says.
The experience helped him grow exponentially as an artist. “When you get to a certain level, it’s hard to get an honest critique like you do when you’re starting out,” he says. “This was like an expert-level boot camp.”
Davies can’t reveal how he finished (tune in to find out), but producers say he gets plenty of screen time. And he’ll be easy to spot - he’s the contestant whose only tattoo (on his neck) is invisible without a black light. “I am the inkless tattoo master,” he says with a laugh.
Ink Master, Season 2 Season debut: 10 pm Oct. 9 (two back-to-back episodes) Spike TV (check your local listings for channel) Note: Jamie Davies hopes to organize some viewing parties this fall. Watch www.tattoozink.com and follow Tattooz Ink on Facebook for details.