Ink Master season 9 was the first time contestants battled for the title of ‘Master Shop’, but which tattoo artists competed and who won the season? Ink Master is the brainchild of reality TV production company Original Media (now Truly Original) and aired its first season on Paramount Network in 2012. The show is hosted by inked up Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro who also acts as a judge alongside tattoo artists Chris Núñez and Oliver Peck of Miami Ink fame. In each season, a gaggle of talented artists compete against each other in various challenges to win a cash prize, an editorial feature in Inked Magazine and the much-coveted title of ‘Ink Master.'
What started as a relatively simple format has gotten more elaborate over the years with later seasons taking on certain themes. Season 5 (Ink Master: Rivals), for example, featured contestants who had some sort of rivalry while season 6 (Ink Master: Master Vs. Apprentice) pitted mentors against their pupils. The show’s twelfth and current season is titled Ink Master: Battle Of The Sexes and – as its title suggests – pits male contestants against female contestants.
Season 9 was dubbed Ink Master: Shop Wars and featured eighteen of America’s top tattoo studios battling it out for the title of ‘Master Shop’ and a cash prize worth $200,000. Each tattoo shop was represented by two artists working as a team and the studios were split into two categories –Rookies, who were made up of newbies to the show, and Veterans, featuring contestants who’d been on previous seasons. Among the veterans were season 6’s Katie McGowan and season 1 runner-up and Tattoo Nightmares star Tommy Helm. Here are all the shops and contestants that competed in Ink Master season 9, from the first to be eliminated to the winner.
Thicker Than Blood – Jhon Campuzano & Babiery Hernandez
The Marked Society Tattoo – Wes Hogan & Mike P
Black Anchor Collective – Carlos Rojas & Aric Taylor
Tri-Cities Tattoo – Chavonna “Bang” Rhodes & Danger Dave
Think Before You Ink – Richard “Made Rich” Parker & Derrick “Dtatstar” Verley
House of Monkey Tattoo – Lalo Yunda & Picasso Dular
Bone Face Ink Tattoo Shop – Anwon “Boneface” Johnson & Brandon “Hobo Ink” Allen
Black Spade Tattoo – Yovan “E.S.” Barraza & Josh “King Ruck” Glover
Pinz & Needlez – Jessy Knuckles & Allisin Riot
Classic Trilogy Tattoo – Thom Bulman & Derek Zielinski
Artistic Skin Designs – April Nicole & Dane Smith
Allegory Arts – Ulyss Blair & Eva Huber
Empire State Studio – Tommy Helm & Marvin Silva
Golden Skull Tattoo – Aaron “Aaron Is” Michalowski & James “Cleen Rock One” Steinke
Unkindness Art – Erin Chance & Jerrett “Doom Kitten” Querubin
Basilica Tattoo – Christian Buckingham & Noelin Wheeler
Black Cobra Tattoos – Katie McGowan & Matt O’Baugh
Old Town Ink – Aaron “Bubba” Irwin & DT Tambe
In the Ink Master season 9 finale just three teams remained – Basilica Tattoo, Black Cobra Tattoos, and Old Town Ink. The finale saw contestants compete in three challenges: a six-hour live tattoo, a 35-hour black-and-gray large-scale piece and a 35-hour large-scale color tattoo. Basilica Tattoo were first to be kicked out of the finale, followed swiftly by Black Cobra Tattoos.
That left Aaron “Bubba” Irwin and DT Tambe who were crowned the winners of Ink Master season 9 thanks to two stunning back tattoos – a black-and-gray realist portrait and a Japanese-inspired dragon piece. Not only did Irwin and Tambe earn themselves the title of ‘Ink Master’, but they also earned their Scottsdale, Arizona studio Old Town Ink the title of ‘Master Shop’.