Since its inception in 2012, “Ink Master” brought the tattoo shop to your living room on a weekly basis for 13 seasons. The hugely popular tattoo contest appeared to fall victim to the pandemic after the Season 13 live finale ended and no winner was determined. As management changed at the Paramount Network, it looked grim for “Ink Master” fans, but tthen with the arrival of Paramount+, the show was revived for season 14.
Upon his return, “Ink Master” took the opportunity to revamp the beloved competition with a new host and three new judges. Joel Madden—lead singer of Good Charlotte as well as co-founder of music companies Veeps and MDDN—takes the reins from Dave Navarro. Madden worked on the Australian edition of “The Voice”, so hosting a competition show is nothing new to him. The difference with “Ink Master” is that he has the chance to indulge in a different passion than his tattoos.
“I’ve always been a fan of the show, but during the pandemic I drank it all. Again,” Madden says. “When the opportunity came up to host the show, I was really, really excited. Obviously tattoos are something that I’ve always been a fan of and I’m really excited about what I think and feel about tattoos.
One of the reasons people are drawn to “Ink Master” is how the show opens the curtain on the tattoo industry. Sure, the general public had an idea of what it’s like to be a tattoo artist by watching shows like “New York Ink,” but “Ink Master” delved deeper into the craft behind tattooing. Madden particularly relates to this aspect of the series.
“All of my businesses are acclimated to sharing information, helping people build their businesses and their lives,” Madden explains, “helping artists better equip themselves for what it means to have a career in music. Having the opportunity to be a part of something that I find so entertaining is one thing but also people who watch the show learn a lot about tattoos so when they go to get a tattoo for the first time they are better equipped to know what to look for and what to ask for I think the series is great informatively for people interested in tattoos.
Madden won’t be the only newcomer this season, he’ll be joined by an all-new and incredibly impressive trio of judges: Ami James, Ryan Ashley and Nikko Hurtado. Ami James was probably one of the first tattoo artists you’ve ever seen on TV thanks to his starring role in “Miami Ink,” so the traditional Japanese tattoo specialist is a natural choice. Over the course of her career, Nikko Hurtado completely redefined what was possible in color realism and is quite simply one of the most respected artists in the world. In the previous 13 seasons of “Ink Master,” any eliminated contestant could have complained that the judges had no idea what it was like to be on the show…not anymore. Ryan Ashley left Season 8 with the Ink Master crown after winning one of the series’ most memorable finales.
The three judges have their good faith and enormous authority within the industry, making each a worthy judge in a vacuum. But when their strengths combine, you get something really special. “There are three different schools there and over the course of the season you will come to respect all three schools,” Madden explains. “It’s really interesting. They don’t always agree, but that’s what makes it great, that’s what makes it real. And they all respect each other so much.
This season, contestants are vying for the biggest cash prize in “Ink Master” history, $250,000, so you know the competition is going to be particularly fierce. When you add Madden as host and three new judges, there’s plenty to be excited about. But it’s “Ink Master”, so you know there’s going to be a twist, right?
This season, Dave Navarro will return as Master of Chaos. Navarro will appear from time to time to say those words that all candidates dread: “But that’s not all…”
“He comes in and drops bombs,” laughs Madden. “People are like, ‘Holy shit, how are we going to do this?’ The level of competition has risen, this is the most competitive group we have seen and the toughest the competition has ever been.
The all-new season of “Ink Master” will begin streaming on Paramount+ on September 7. Who do you think has what it takes to become the next Ink Master?