There are many of forms of alternative healing—meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and so on—but sometimes the best medicine is a little more colorful. Sometimes, the best medicine is a solid dose of ink.
This Tuesday, December 16, Spike TV will debut their latest tattoo reality program, Ink Shrinks. Unlike other tattoo based shows Ink Shrinks is not a competition. It isn’t documenting the story of a shop. It isn’t fixing old, regrettable tattoos. Instead, Ink Shrinks is providing a window to show just how tattoos and the entire tattooing process can work as a form of alternative therapy.
“As a tattoo artist, we already are basically therapists,” says tattooist and Ink Shrink star Sarah Miller. “Clients come in, sit with us, tell us their problems and we’re able to give a spin on it that will help them or give some advice or a sympathetic ear.” Miller, who has become a prominent figure in the tattoo world as a talented portrait artist and as an Ink Master season two finalist, is one of the three talented artists chosen to star in Ink Shrinks. Alongside surrealism tattooist Timothy Boor and abstract tattooist Justin Nordine, Miller will join a team of amazing therapists who will help diagnose various clients and “prescribe” a tattoo that will hopefully alleviate their problems. “When I was approached by this idea to audition for Ink Shrinks,” continues Miller, “I didn’t think it was that far of a transition from actual tattooing. I thought it would be really interesting to showcase a more positive and amazing side to tattooing because it is healing people who have problems; it really helps them.”
Clients will be prescribed “blind” tattoos by their artist and therapist so they will have no idea what their design looks like until it has been permanently added to their bodies. “Normally when a client comes in and they have an issue, they have a preconceived idea of what they want and what it means to them,” explains Miller, “[In Ink Shrinks] the client comes in and the therapist actually has a session with them to get to the root of the problem. From there the therapist will come to us [the tattoo artists] and give us a run down of what’s going on so we can design something that’s a little bit more symbolic. When somebody comes in for a tattoo and they just want to get something that’s very literal, they’re not open to interpretation, so this is going to give them an opportunity to see the big picture where they’re going to be able to get a beautiful, amazing piece of art, but a piece of art that will also have these really subtle hidden meanings in it as well. [This kind of tattoo is] something that actually would be a permanent prescription because it’s literally putting someone on a positive path every single second of the day that they are looking at it.”
The pilot episode of Ink Shrinks will be premiering directly after the Ink Master Rivals season finale and will give viewers a first look at this new style of therapeutic ink and the talented artists embarking on a new path for their art. “Justin [Nordine] is really, really interesting,” explains Miller of her co-star. “His style is very fluid when it comes to integrating with Ink Shrinks. It’s very watercolor-esque, and very abstract as it is, but he’s able to combine elements in a way where the color just receives an immediate, instant reaction. And Timothy [Boor] is amazing with surrealistic stuff. He’s so well rounded. He just filled up page after page of sketches when we were drawing together. It’s just wonderful and slightly intimidating being next to him seeing the stuff that’s coming out of his head.”
As the clients of the Ink Shrinks are clearly in capable and talented hands, the tattoo world gets a glimpse at the vast expansion the power of art can have over one another. “I think it’s a pretty positive change,” concludes Miller. “It’s putting a more positive spin on tattooing. This is definitely going to be going in a completely different direction. This is the new wave of tattoo shows, and it’s going to be very interesting, I can tell you that.”
Tune into Spike TV tonight at 11pm EST to catch Sarah Miller and the rest of her team for the airing of the pilot episode of Ink Shrinks directly after Ink Master.