Proficient at black-and-grey, photorealism, and anything else thrown his way, O’Neill was named Spike TV’s first Ink Master on the show of the same name. Marvel at the work from the new big name in tattooing and then visit him in Delaware at Shane O’Neill Tattoos. Congratulations, and well-deserved, Shane.
Congrats on winning Ink Master. How do you feel?
It’s pretty crazy.
Was it difficult to tattoo on camera?
Nah, that stuff doesn’t bother me. I’m used to tons of people watching me tattoo at conventions—doing conventions for years prepped me for the show. Sitting down in front of the camera was a little more relaxing because you knew that once you started you knew you were going to tattoo for the next five or six hours. The rest of the time was more nerve-racking, because you weren’t sure what they were going to throw at you.
Like the flash challenges?
All of the flash challenges were a lot of fun because we weren’t just tattooing, we were doing other art-related stuff. Tattooing pigs in the meat locker was crazy. If I knew the pig’s skin accepted ink that easy, I would definitely have used color, because it looked super-bright.
What was the house like?
There were people not ready to deal with it. The better tattooers would stay up all night drawing tattoos for next day’s challenge that should have taken three days to perfect while others slept. They didn’t make it to the end.
What is your tip for the next crop of tattooists trying for the title?
The human canvases were a big factor in the show. If two tattooers did two identical tattoos on different canvases, the one with the lighter skin is going to look better. It was extremely important to win the flash challenges because then you could pick your canvas. Some people didn’t give a shit and just concentrated on the elimination challenge, but my thinking was that if two people were running close, the judges would go with the one who won more of the challenges.
Other than making better tattoos, what do you think helped you win?
Being more versatile and listening to the judges.
What did you think of the judges?
Dave [Navarro] was way more knowledgeable than I expected him to be. And if he knew Oliver [Peck] and Chris [Nunez] knew more about something, then he would step back.
Would you do it again?
Definitely. I was prepared for the worst of everything and nothing was the worst. Some [people] came in demanding a sleeve in five hours, so time management and dealing with them was a huge factor. Bili Vegas, who is an awesome tattooer, had five hours to tattoo, and two and a half hours into it he was still arguing with the canvas.
Is Ink Master the best tattooing on TV?
Yes. You saw the whole process; artists did their best, and a lot more good tattoos got done in an hour than on any other show.