'Ink Master: Angels' Talk About Upcoming Series And More

Premiering on Spike Tuesday, October 3 is a new series, INK MASTER: ANGELS, which is a spin-off off Spike's original tattoo competition series "Ink Master," features four of "Ink Master" season 8's top female competitions which include Ryan Ashley, Kelly Doty, Nikki Simpson and Gia Rose as they travel the country and go head to head with some of America's most talented tattoo artists. In each town, local tattoo artists go head-to-head in a series of tattoo-based challenges to see who has what it takes to beat the "Angels" and earn a spot on season 10 of "Ink Masters."

Broadway World was able to sit down with the ladies competing on "Ink Master: Angels" to discuss what viewers can look forward to and more!

Tell us a little about yourself and your tattooing experience/background.

Kelly Doty: I've been tattooing for ten years this October and specialize spooky illustrative. I am a co-runner of a shop in Salem, Massachusetts called Helheim Gallery.

Gia Rose: I've been tattooing for fourteen years and I specialize in mostly more neo-traditional, illustrative botanical tattooing.

Ryan Ashley: I just turned 30 and I have been tattooing for six years. I definitely always wanted to tattoo. I just never thought it was ever a possibility. I have lots and lots of interests in art and everything. When I went to college, I went for fashion design because I was making my own clothes since I was like 13 and I thought for some reason the fashion world was more realistic than the tattoo world. After college, I got a great job. I worked for about five years as a designer and as an in-house artist for this fashion company and I designed mostly really intricate embroidery. Eventually I realized I wanted to be more hands on with my art, so I left my awesome job and at 24 I moved back to Small Town, PA to begin my apprenticeship. I now have a private studio in Kingston, PA and I'm just enjoying life tattooing as much as I can.

Nikki Simpson: I'm 26 and live in New York and I tattoo at a shop called 'Addicted to Ink' in White Plains and I work at a shop called 'Grit N Glory' in Manhattan. I've been tattooing six and a half years and specialize in a lot of illustrative, black & white and color. A lot of ornamental and floral work but mostly a lot of lady faces.

What made you interested in competing on the show?

Doty: I had been pretty aware of it since it began. I have spoken to them on and off for a couple seasons and then I guess everything kind of just came together for season eight. I was mostly just terrified the entire time. Just a consistent, steady stream of panic running through my veins.

Rose: We were approached by the network specifically so I think they gave us the idea of a show around the four of us.

Ashley: When I started talking about possibly doing "Ink Master" I really never thought I was going to get to the end. I just thought as a fun opportunity and life is full of opportunities. Lots of doors opened and you can choose to take them and I tried to walk through every door that opened. So I did "Ink Master" hoping to meet new artists, learn things, and test myself and I was definitely surprised by my self a lot of the time and ended up winning which was insane.

Simpson: Us girls, we all really made good friendships after we competed on "Ink Masters" and we continued our friendships and relationships after the show and there was a really big buzz surrounding all of us and a lot of the fans of "Ink Masters" loved what us four girls are all about- that we all stood by each other and had each other's backs. We're putting good tattooing first and putting strong, powerful women out on the map so if there were any projects that had anything to do with each other with strong females and tattooing we were all 100% game and we were definitely open to projects that were going to present us that.

What's it like being in a male dominated industry? Is it intimidating at times?

Doty: At first it was certainly very intimidating being a part of a male dominated industry but the more you do it and the longer you work at it, it almost becomes hyper motivating because you recognize you have to do better than every man next to you because when you're part of the smaller portion of a demographic in a group; they're always going to look for excuses on why you might have had it easier or why you don't deserve to be there. It really motivates and pushes you to do twice as good than the man standing next to you.

Rose: I guess it can be but ultimately it's just kind of a very male dominated world which really isn't any different than any other career except that we don't have culturally the same protections in place, so you kind of have to have a thicker skin in order to make it through.

Ashley: I think being a female tattooer, we've all had our trials and tribulations but my experience so far has been all over the board. A lot of people have looked at me immediately like an equal, it doesn't matter that I'm a girl but I have definitely also experienced adversity- being amongst the minority and it's interesting because a lot of the time people still look at us like we are the minority and look at us like a novelty. I never understood why you have to be a certain person or you have to look a certain way to command respect. So what I have done in my career, as a woman in the industry is work my ass off. I try to put my tattooing first always.

Simpson: No not necessarily. I have been working around men since I was eighteen years old. They're a lot more simple than you would think working with them is. A tattoo shop is very much a bunch of dudes hanging out and having a good time tattooing and it's all about art and just relaxing and having fun. It's not necessarily always about all of the egos and if it is then you remove yourself from the situation. I think you have to put forward that you put your art and your skill set first before having to worry about other people's egos. If it's about the art then it should always be about that.

Do you hope more females are empowered/inspired to enter the tattooing industry at the conclusion of the season?

Doty: I'm really hoping that a lot of people find themselves being represented on "Ink Master: Angels" and are able to find that empowering for them because that is certainly something we consider the entire time. You wanna see more women feel comfortable stepping into the tattoo industry and to represent that for somebody is an incredible opportunity, but also we have all these amazing artists coming through and they're representing themselves and they're representing different people as well that might not be shown otherwise. I'm really hoping that not only we are not only a positive force for women that want to get into the tattoo industry but we're also a positive representation for people who might not see themselves in the tattoo industry yet.

Rose: Yeah actually I hope so.

Ashley: I hope that not only are other female tattooers inspired. I hope that all tattooers are inspired whether they are male or female, to conquer adversity and push forward and put their art first. I also hope that young women and girls that aren't tattooers can see this as an example and kick ass in whatever field they choose to go in. Basically the message that we're trying to protrude isn't "you can be a strong female tattooer if you can be a strong person." Put hard work into what you do and you will come out on top; no matter who you are, no matter if you're a dude or a girl or what field you're in. Really the message is just do the best that you can every single day and good things will come.

Simpson: I can only hope so. We don't necessarily just want to have a message for female tattooers. I think we just want to have a message for anybody and everybody and just not women. I think we want to show people that if you have support for one another and if you believe in healthy competition and pushing yourself and pushing your own boundaries, but putting commodity first and wanting to see others exceed other than just yourself. There's always going to be a positive outcome. I think that's one thing we wanted to put as a priority in the show is showing people what amazing things can happen when you put your mind to something and you can overcome the obstacles. If we empower women than that's just wonderful because this is the time for women to put all preconceived notions aside and just prove society that we're just as capable of being successful and powerful and having respect and being equal and I think that's a beautiful thing about this time right now that we're on the forefront and this show couldn't have come at a better time.

What are you most looking forward to competing on the show?

Doty: I'm really looking forward to people seeing some of the artists that we found. The competition aspect is for us. It's different now because we're the judges basically so we're trying to show all these different artists and really put forward all this amazing artwork. That's the great thing about "Ink Master: Angels" is you find all these different artists. You find these canvases that really have a story behind them so you're rooting for everybody. Nobody is trying to throw someone else under the bus. You're trying to see the best possible artwork that you can showcase.

Rose: I think the best thing is just the type and style of competitions in tattooing we're representing and being able to showcase a lot more tattoos.

Ashley: I'm mostly looking forward to giving all of these artists all over the country a chance to put their artwork on a national platform and show what they've got. There are a lot of artists all over the country that are so talented and they don't have a fan base or the appreciation that they deserve so I think I'm most looking forward to putting the spotlight on these tattooers that work hard every day and that deserve the recognition that hopefully we can give them.

Simpson: I think just tattooing again honestly. I love being under a time constraint and all the people and cameras around me. If anything I work best under pressure and I think it's wonderful, because when you come out on top after going through so much difficulty what your end result is so much more gratifying. I don't really necessarily care about all the other fluff that's involved in being a celebrity. I care about my artwork being out there and people respecting me for that and I cannot wait to see what artists I get to go up against. I love fun, healthy competition.

How has life changed for you since appearing on the original "Ink Master" series?

Doty: Mostly not much which is cool because I'm a hermit and if you don't leave the house, then things don't have to change much and you can stay safe inside your little self-imposed hole which I really enjoy. Other than that, I get recognized which makes sense because I kind of look like a giant green muppet and it's hard for me to blend. Getting recognized, It's really strange but also really nice because typically people are very very nice and growing up being kind of a weird kid; when people come up to you immediately your first reaction is to tuck yourself into a fetal position until they go away, but now everyone is saying very nice things and there's a very warm response and that's just lovely.

Rose: Yeah, I'm getting married and I opened up a new business called 'White Oak Tattoo Co.' in West Chester, PA.

Ashley: Life has changed because I still feel like myself but the reaction from a lot of people is really crazy. I live in a pretty small town and everybody thinks that "Ink Master" is the biggest deal ever like they can't believe I competed and I won and it's crazy. They treat me like I'm a celebrity and it's insane because I still feel like me. I still feel like the same person. The only difference now is that I have a really strong group of tattooer friends that I didn't have before. When you have a really strong support system of people that really understand you and understand what you've been through it helps a lot.

Simpson: It's been a whirlwind. It's been crazy. I definitely can say my workload has increased exponentially which is great because I do consider myself a workaholic and I put my work at the highest priority in any aspect of my life. I can say it is a little strange that people recognize me constantly and asks the same question over and over which is fine. The best thing that I experienced after "Ink Master" is all the people coming up to me telling me that what you did is inspirational to them; that I don't care about being famous. I don't care about making money- like an over excessive amount of money. The little girls I've met and adult women that I've met that have been so inspired that we help them get something in their lives and being able to give them an important piece of artwork means the world to me. It's just great to me that being on television has helped me reach out to those people maybe needed a voice when they didn't have one.

What advice do you have for female tattoo artists entering the industry?

Doty: They are going to have to work twice as hard as the man next to us. They're not just a novelty. They're just not a girl that got to where she is because she's pretty or a girl. She got there because she can do what other people cannot.

Rose: Just keep doing what you're doing and challenge yourself. Practicing, critique and working with other artists will only make you a better artist.

Ashley: Remember to have no mercy when it comes to being yourself. Have no setbacks. Make sure that you put your artwork first. Don't get involved in the drama. Don't get involved in anything else. In our industry, what is most important is being proud of the work that you do.

Simpson: Put your artwork first. Try not to overexploit the fact that you're a female and take the easy route. I mean women can be whatever they want but put your art first that's basically it. Put your skill and talent first because no matter what you look like, people cannot deny extreme talent and when you watch yourself grow and become a better artist it is one of the most gratifying things. In growing up and learning about yourself and giving the gift of art to someone that has a story and connection behind it, it's so powerful because that is the longest lasting gift you can give to anybody. Personally, have fun and take every opportunity that comes your way and be fearless and don't let anything get you down. Don't listen to the haters. Put yourself first and put your career first and amazing things are going to come your way.

"Ink Master: Angels" premieres Tuesday, October 3 at 10PM EST/PT on Spike. Watch a first look of the show below.

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From This Author Danielle Kfare

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