Story & Photos by Bella Kok
Ink Master is a competitive tattoo show that airs on the channel Paramount. Between the passion portrayed through the art and the competitive edge, Ink Master is the show to watch. With $100,000 and the title of Ink Master on the line, ten tattoo artists compete in a series of competitions in New York, to prove who is indeed the ultimate “Ink Master.” The spin off show Ink Master Angels stems from Ink Master a show where four of the top previous female Ink Master winners, also known as Angels, travel the United States and compete against local artists to win the ultimate Ink Master Angels title.
Ink Master Angels chooses three local artists to battle in a series of two competitions, with one being eliminated after each round. The first round serves as a two-hour elimination tattoo where the artists must tattoo a body part in the style and subject of their choice in order to impress the Angels. For the second round, two artists have four hours to tattoo a subject the city is known for. Prior to the first elimination round, it is revealed that the winner of the second round will face a random Angel. The Angel and the local artist will then draw white skulls that will determine who gets one of the two human canvases before the six-hour process begins. The local artist and the Angel then have to tattoo a subject inspired by an idea from the person they are tattooing. After the tattooing process concludes, the other Angels, the eliminated local artists and the audience each get one vote. If the local artist gets the most votes and successfully takes down an Angel, they earn a spot to compete on a future season of Ink Master and $100,000.
In the fifth episode of the second season of Ink Master Angels, the Angels travelled to Oklahoma City in an episode titled “Healed by An Angel.” In this episode, three local artists, Muse, Drew Shurtleff and Derek Sharp go head to head for a chance to win a spot to compete on Ink Master. The first-round rules state that the tattoo must be
a tattoo in their own style. After two hours the tattoos are judged by the Angels and two of the local artists advance to the next round. Per round-two rules, the tattoo must be of something that represents the city the local artists are in. The angels have the local artists tattoo a Native American headdress tattoo but, the tattoo must be done with photo-realism aspects.
After round-two, the local artist Drew Shurtleff is ready to battle against Angel Nikki Simpson. Before the tattoo commences, the competing artists sit down and meet their canvases in order to discuss what direction they want their tattoos to go. For the Oklahoma City Ink Master Angels, the two canvases are widely known Oklahomans, Aren Almon and Chris Fields. Almon and Fields are known for the picture of the firefighter carrying the deceased baby on April 19, 1995 when a bomb exploded in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The baby was Almon’s 1 year old daughter, Baylee Almon, and the first responder was, now retired, OKC Firefighter Fields.
“As a father of a young daughter, with a young son on the way, it is a terrifying to think about not having your children,” Shurtleff said. “If I could pull this tattoo off and give her what she really wants, then I am going to call it a win.”
Shurtleff and Almon, decided on a tattoo design that represented a star that was purchased in honor of Baylee, Almon’s daughter, following her tragic death. “I wanted it to appear as though I was holding her star. The tattoo makes me feel like I am getting to hold her again. I love it,” Almon said.
Nikki Simpson, the Angel competing against Shurtleff, got the honor of tattooing Fields. “I usually like to do something a little bit more illustrative, but today I am doing something more realistic. I am doing stone and marble which looks old and cracked and has little holes and pores in it. I am a very versatile artist and I am not afraid of a challenge like this.” Simpson stated confidently. The tattoo inspiration for Fields and Simpson was Saint Anne.
With the six-hour final round wrapped up, the other Angels, the eliminated local artists and everybody in the crowd is received a metal angel wing to drop into the metal box after they viewed the tattoos up close. Once every angel wing is dropped and the votes are tallied the moment of truth appears. The winner is announced at last. In that challenge the winner was… NIKKI SIMPSON!