Dave Navarro's respect for the art and culture of tattooing makes him perfect for host and judge of Ink Master. With his six-string skills best described as a merger between heavy metal, psychedelia, and modern rock, Navarro is one of alternative rock's first true guitar heroes. Best known as the guitarist for Jane's Addiction, the band recently released their highly anticipated new album The Great Escape Artist.
Chris Nunez sits on the Ink Master judge's panel along with Dave Navarro and Oliver Peck. Nunez, 38, is of Cuban descent and grew up in Miami, FL. He entered into the realm of tattooing after beginning his career as a graffiti artist. At 21, Nunez packed his bags for a short trip to Brazil and ended up staying for five years. He then traveled through Europe for three years, which enabled him to work with his favorite tattoo artists. The experience expanded both his artistic sense and his knowledge of tattooing. He was a star and fan favorite on the popular tattoo-reality series, "Miami Ink." Nunez is a partner in Ridgeline Empire, a strategic multiplatform content and media corporation, which operates the subsidiaries Ink Skins and Upset Gentlemen and an animation studio with two animated series in development, "Hoodbrats" and "Toothians." He is also getting ready to open a new tattoo venture to be based in his hometown of Miami.
Oliver Peck, judge of Ink Master, is an artist whose whole life revolves around tattooing. He began tattooing when he was just 19 years old in his hometown of Dallas, TX and has perfected his precise and traditional tattooing style making him one of the best and well-known 'old school' American style artists. In 2008, Peck inked his way into the Guinness Book of World Records when he completed 415 tattoos of the number 13 in a consecutive 24-hour period. He is one of the most traveled tattoo artists on the circuit, tattooing all over Europe including England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Norway and in the Far East, including Japan and Thailand. Peck is co-owner of Elm Street Tattoo in Dallas, TX and the owner of True Tattoo located in Hollywood, CA.
Cee Jay "Inky" Jones
Tattoo Artist at Suicide Kings Tattoo Parlor (www.artbyceejay.com)
15 years experience
From the time she was a little girl, Cee Jay wanted to be an artist. She began tattooing at the age of 24, not long after getting her first tattoo. To Cee Jay, having a good foundation as a tattoo artist is the key to success. She knows that fact all too well since she repairs many bad tattoos and considers herself an expert in cover-up tattoos. Cee Jay has a passion for using color in her work and says she can never get enough of tattooing pin up girls. This badass mom's passions outside of tattooing include her family (she has seven kids) and roller derby, a sport she's been involved with for the past four years. Cee Jay is currently an artist at Suicide Kings Tattoo Parlor in Detroit, MI.
Owner/Artist at Sparrows Tattoo Company (www.sparrowstattoo.com)
16 years experience
Growing up Clint was a bit of a troublemaker. His dad bought him his first tattoo machine at age 15 so he could keep himself out of trouble and do something constructive. He's been passionate about tattooing ever since. For Clint, tattooing is the ultimate form of self-expression. Clint describes himself as someone who is aggressive and passionate and wears his emotions on his sleeve and is not afraid to "let it be known" to anyone how he feels. Clint's not here to make friends, but to prove to the judges that he is the best tattoo artist on the show. A self-taught artist, Clint's specializes in new school and realism tattoos, and is currently the owner of Sparrows Tattoo Company in Dallas, TX.
Owner/ Artist at Tattooz Ink (www.tattoozink.com)
17 years experience
A self-described obsessive-compulsive workaholic, Jamie says he's too busy focusing on his clients' tattoos rather than designing and getting one himself. Though he may ink others for a living, Jamie himself has only one tattoo, a black light piece located on the side of his neck.
Starting out as a comic book artist, Jamie quickly grew bored with its repetitiveness and transitioned into the world of tattooing, which he feels is a perfect fit for his artistic skill set. He specializes in photo realism, featuring bold tattoo designs with lots of dimension,
drama and contrast. A married father of two young daughters, Jamie opened his own shop eight years ago and has won several awards in nearly every tattoo genre.
Jesse discovered his love of art while living in Germany as an "army brat" teen. He quickly became interested in urban culture and graffiti art. After returning to the States, he enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University to help round out his own artistic style. One of his first jobs was drawing caricatures at Busch Gardens in VA and found himself among a circle of artists who introduced him to the world of tattooing, eventually learning how to make his own homemade tattoo gun. Jesse developed his signature style of quirky cartoon style designs and use of color working in numerous tattoo shops in the US as well as overseas in Europe and China before opening up his own shop last year.
Katherine "Tatu Baby" Flores Miami, FL 6 years experience Self-employed tattoo artist (www.tatubaby.com)
Tatu Baby isn't shy when it comes to her looks and admits to have used her sex appeal to her advantage, but don't judge this book by its cover, she's got talent to back her up. She became interested in tattoos after getting her first ink at the age of 14. Tatu Baby has been tattooing professionally since she was 19 and proved herself right of the gate by taking home a "best of day" trophy at a tattoo convention. Known for her work in black and gray and photorealism, she has a true appreciation for the way the body can be used as a canvas to express yourself. A fan favorite in last year's competition, Tatu Baby made it all the way to the final four before being eliminated. In a first-ever surprise twist in the season finale, viewers went online and voted Tatu Baby back for a chance to redeem herself in Season 3.
Steven "Kay Kutta" Givens
Owner/Artist at Kutthouse Tattoos (www.kaykutta.com)
3 years experience
Kay Kutta did his first tattoo, on himself, at the age of 12 with a sewing needle wrapped in thread and Indian Ink. To say that he's come a long way is an understatement. After an eight-year stint in prison, Kay Kutta chose not to return to a life of crime, and credits tattooing with being able to re-invent himself and lead a life on the straight and narrow. Kay Kutta says that people either love him or hate him because he's not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in. He specializes in photo realism tattoos and his shop has been voted the best place to get tattooed in his hometown.
Lalo Yunda Brooklyn, NY
Tattoo Artist at Sacred Tattoo (www.lalotattoos.com)
20 years experience
Lalo grew up in Colombia, South America and instead of focusing on his schoolwork in class, he would mischievously cut his skin and fill the open wounds with ink. It wasn't until an Italian tattoo artist showed him how to make his own homemade tattoo machine with the motor of a tape recorder, a spoon and pen that he was officially in business. Entirely self-taught, he is one of the first generation of tattoo artists in his native country. Lalo believes that communication is the cornerstone of being a great tattoo artist. He works closely with his clients in creating his designs and specializes in what he calls "magical realism," a specific style of tattooing which blends magical elements with the real world.
Despite his physical size, everything about "Little Mike" is big. He's funny and sarcastic and his friends affectionately refer to him as BLB (Belligerent Little Bastard). After watching the artwork he specially designed get tattooed on his friends, Mike knew that being a tattoo artist would someday be his career. Mike prefers working on big and bold tattoo designs, where he can utilize thick sculpted lines, color, exaggerated highlights so his art seems to "pop off" the skin. People's underestimation of him in the tattoo world, because of his size, has stoked a fire in him professionally. Mike is ready to show viewers that a person's size is in no way an indicator of one's talent. Little Mike is currently the co-owner and artist at Addicted to Ink in White Plains, NY.
Sacramento, San Francisco, Bay Area & Coast, CA
14 years experience
Mark has had a passion for art ever since he was a child. He channeled that passion into the world of tattooing when he was introduced to the medium when he was seventeen. Mark learned tattooing the hard way. A self-taught artist, he considers himself lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside a number of great artists who have motivated, inspired and taught him how to become a better artist. Aside from tattooing, Mark is also a professional mixed martial arts fighter, who competes several times a year. He's a true family man who counts his wife and two kids as his biggest supporters both in and out of the ring. Mark specializes in black and gray and is also experienced in traditional Japanese and Americana styles. Mark can be found tattooing from Sacramento to San Francisco – find out where he’ll be tattooing next on his personal website.
Owner and Artist at The Black Pearl (www.DAngeloArt.com)
4 years experience
Nick has always had a love for drawing, and in school each year, he would always sign up for as many art classes as he could. In high school he worked at a local sign shop that made New Orleans replica street signs and that's when he fell in love with both the city and it's pirates lore. He loves pirates so much that his tattoo studio, The Black Pearl, is pirate-themed. Nick toyed with the idea of enrolling in art school, but when he got a tattoo apprenticeship right outside of high school, his fate was sealed and he's been tattooing ever since. Nick is clearly the "young gun" in this competition, but he says he doesn't have a message for his competition; rather he'll let his work speak for itself. Nick specializes in realism and portrait tattoos.
La Ron "Ron" Givens
Tattoo artist at Cat Tattoo's Elite Studio (www.cattattoo.com)
7 years experience
Ron first became interested in tattooing after receiving a bad tattoo. Inspired by art since childhood, his work is heavily influenced by Japanese Anime and features lots of color. After impressing tattoo artists at a local shop, Ron was invited to come back and learn the trade step by step. He can always be found with a smile on his face and considers himself an eternal optimist. Don't let that smile fool you though, Ron is super-competitive and is often his own toughest critic who demands perfection in his work every day. Ron specializes in new school, Japanese and color realism. He is currently an artist at Cat Tattoo’s Elite Studio in Dallas, TX.
"Big Daddy" Tray Benham
Owner/Artist at Big Daddy's Tattoo (www.bigdaddystattoo.com)
20 years experience
With southern charm and the gift of gab, "Big Daddy" Tray is an outgoing tattoo artist from the small town of Brandenburg, KY and he's not afraid to say what is on his mind. Tray prides himself on super clean lines, smooth shading and extensive use of color. Tray is the owner of two Big Daddy's Tattoo shops in Kentucky. His fresh and new style of tattooing was like nothing ever seen before in his home state and he has helped to inspire a new generation of artists. Tray's work has been featured on numerous covers of national and international magazines and won numerous awards at tattoo conventions held across the country.
Owner/Tattoo Artist at Wyld Chyld Tattoo Pittsburgh (www.sarahjmiller.com)
6 years experience
Sarah has a background in and a passion for classical art. Before tattooing took over her life in 2009, she had a thriving career in graphic design and illustration, working with numerous design firms on product branding campaigns. Sarah considers herself to be very competitive and says she definitely has what it takes to win this competition. Not a fan of traditional styles because to her they don't look realistic enough, Sarah specializes in portraits and pin-ups. She says that what she enjoys more than anything is illustrating through her tattoo work, expanding the medium and pushing the boundaries of what is considered tattoo art.
Tattoo Artist at Detroit Ink 15 years experience
Sebastian is a self-made man. Growing up with very little, Sebastian knew at a young age that he would be responsible for his own future. Always artistic, he became an airbrush artist as a teenager to earn his keep. As the airbrush fad faded he began hanging out at a friend's tattoo shop drawing designs and selling them to customers who would get them tattooed. His designs became so popular that the shop offered him an apprenticeship, which Sebastian parlayed into a career. Though Sebastian prefers working in black, gray and photo realism, he describes himself as a "ninja duplicator," meaning he can duplicate any style of tattooing.
Owner/Artist at 12 Tattoos (www.12tattoos.com)
17 years experience
A self-confessed "party guy," Steve is renowned for his personal sense of style including a wardrobe of designer shirts. Interested in both art and tattoos since he was a teenager, Steve began his career "scratching" out of his house before getting an apprenticeship and has worked hard ever since to perfect his craft, and has since opened his own shop 12 Tattoos in Groton, CT. He believes his confidence, working well under pressure and the ability to quickly adapt to any situation gives him an edge versus the competition on the show. Steve specializes in black and grey tattoos and is best known for his realistic portraits and horror imagery and prides himself on being able to complete his work extremely fast.
Thomas "TJ Hal" Halvorsen
St. Petersburg, FL
Co-Owner/Artist at Foolish Pride Tattoo Co www.tjhal.com
7 years experience
TJ is a no-nonsense kind of guy and requires those around him to "fall in line" because he believes he knows best. Serving in the US Army as a sniper for five years instilled in TJ a strong sense of leadership which he says has helped him in running and owning his own tattoo shop. Before he started tattooing, TJ began his career as a professional comic book artist for both Marvel and DC Comics and his love of comics definitely comes through in both his tattoo style and designs. TJ says that tattooing is the hardest art form out there since the canvas moves, screams, bleeds and sometimes even cries. He specializes in both color and realism tattoos.
Sixteen new artists compete in extreme ink challenges for the title of Ink Master. But this time, not only do they have to impress judges Dave Navarro, Chris Nuñez and Oliver Peck -- they’ll also face a popular vote from viewers at home.