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Since its debut in 2012, “Ink Master” has brought the tattoo shop into your living room on a weekly basis over the course of 13 seasons. The wildly popular tattoo competition appeared to be a victim of the pandemic after the Season 13 live finale was scrapped and no winner was determined. As the direction shifted at the Paramount Network it looked bleak for “Ink Master” fans, but then with the arrival of Paramount+ the show was revived for Season 14.

Upon its return, “Ink Master” has taken the opportunity to revamp the beloved competition with a new host and three new judges. Joel Madden—lead singer for Good Charlotte as well as the co-founder of music companies Veeps and MDDN—is taking the reins from Dave Navarro. Madden has worked on the Australian edition of “The Voice,” so hosting a competition show isn’t new to him. The difference with “Ink Master” is that he is getting the chance to indulge a different passion of his—tattoos.

“I had always been a fan of the show, but over the pandemic I binged the entire thing. Again,” Madden says. “When the opportunity came along to host the show I was really, really excited. Obviously tattoos are something I’ve always been a fan of and I’m very enthusiastic about what I think and feel about tattoos.”

One of the reasons people are drawn to “Ink Master” is the way the show peels back the curtain on the tattoo industry. Sure, the general public had some idea about what it’s like to be a tattoo artist from watching shows like “New York Ink,” but “Ink Master” went deep into the craft behind tattooing. Madden particularly relates to that aspect of the show.

“All of my businesses are acclimated toward the sharing of information, helping people build their businesses and their lives,” Madden explains, “helping artists become more equipped for what it means to have a career in music. To get the opportunity to be a part of something I find so entertaining is one thing, but also the people watching the show learn a lot about tattoos. So when they go to get that first tattoo they’re better equipped to know what to look for and what to ask for. I think that the show is informationally great for people who are interested in tattoos.”


Madden isn’t going to be the only newcomer this season, he’ll be joined by an all new and staggeringly impressive trio of judges—Ami James, Ryan Ashley and Nikko Hurtado. Ami James was likely one of the first tattooers you ever saw on television thanks to his starring role on “Miami Ink,” so the specialist in traditional Japanese tattooing is a natural fit. In his career, Nikko Hurtado has completely redefined what was possible in the realm of color realism and is simply one of the most respected artists in the world. For the previous 13 seasons of “Ink Master” any contestant who was eliminated could have complained that the judges have no idea what it’s like to compete on the program… not any more. Ryan Ashley walked away from Season 8 with the crown of Ink Master after winning one of the show’s most memorable finales.

All three judges have their bonafides and a tremendous amount of authority within the industry, making each one a worthy judge in a vacuum. But when their forces combine you get something really special. “There are three different schools up there and over the season you’ll 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 the contestants are competing for the largest cash prize in “Ink Master” history, $250,000, so you know the competition is going to be particularly fierce. When you throw Madden as host and three new judges into the mix, there’s a lot to be excited about. But this is “Ink Master,” so you know there’s going to be a twist, right?

This season Dave Navarro will be returning as the Master of Chaos. Navarro will pop up from time to time to say those words every contestant dreads—”But that’s not all…”

“He comes in and drops bombs,” Madden laughs. “People are like, ‘Holy shit, how are we going to do this?’ The level of competition has stepped up. This is the most competitive group we’ve seen and it’s the hardest the competition has ever been.”

The brand 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?