Ink Master exclusive: Artistic Skin Design on ‘cool kids alliance’ and elimination

Ink Master season 9 episode 7

We are deep into the part of the Ink Master season 9 competition where really good artists are going home and this week we lost one of the teams we had pegged to win the whole thing this season: Artistic Skin Design.

This season was all about team work and as a married couple who runs a business, we understand how well this dynamic can work and thought that Artistic Skin Design had a huge advantage over some of the other teams because of it. Even though they were eliminated, we still feel that way since only a married couple who works together and plays together can know how to lift each other up when they are in the most stressful of situations (like an Ink Master competition!) and we saw that with Artistic Skin Design better then any other team. We were thrilled to have a chance to talk to Dean and April about their time on the show and they opened up to us about their elimination, how their alliance helped support them and whether or not we would ever get a chance to see them compete on Ink Master again.

CarterMatt: Was it frustrating to be eliminated from the show in such a strange way, with only four artists competing at the end?

Artistic Skin Design: We weren’t necessarily frustrated with the way we were eliminated, however we do both feel that if we were actually competing against the entire house, we may not have been the next team to go.

Dane, did having so many other artists offer feedback during that final challenge end up helping or hurting you?

It was wonderful to be surrounded by my friends, knowing that they wanted us to succeed and they did give me sound advice, as they are all fantastic artists. However, with all of the commotion and stress of the competition wearing on us for ten episodes, and then having all of those voices in my head in that moment definitely made it harder for me to draw how I normally would have, if I had been in a more relaxed atmosphere. All in all, that’s what this competition is about. Being put into a stressful place and expected to rise above it and put out your best work regardless. That all being said, I still loved my tattoo, and I was super proud of the outcome, and do pride myself in not playing it safe and doing a dynamic fun tattoo for my canvas.

April, you mentioned during the first challenge how some of the guys on your team were really controlling a lot of creative on the four horsemen. If you had more of your creative involved, do you think your team would’ve been in the same position getting criticized for not having “met the challenge”?

I absolutely believe that if Dane and I were put on a team with other artists that listened to the input of every member, and worked together, our tattoos would have been more cohesive and met the challenge in the way that ours did not. My tattoo and DJ’s tattoo looked cohesive because we were talking to each other and giving advice on color and technique and I thank him so much for being there as a teammate and not a competitor. I wish the other two artists communicated with us in the same way, for the sake of the competition and our “human canvas”.

You both had some really high highs during the competition this season. Did you ever feel you were a favorite to win the whole thing?

We definitely felt that we had a shot in the finale after the first few episodes were over. When we initially got to the Ink Master house, we thought there was no chance in hell we’d get very far seeing how talented the roster was, but after realizing that Dane and I were having an easy run as far as working with each other and putting out tattoos we were proud of, our hopes definitely lifted. We were pretty surprised when we were booted.

How much do you feel the alliance helped you this season?

The alliance helped us tremendously, but not in the way of trying to sabotage other players or trying to get ahead in “the game”. The alliance helped us to feel like we had support. Whether it be creatively, or emotionally, those players weren’t just stepping stones to the finish line, they are amazing friends, and fantastic artists. Jessy and Allison have totally joined “the cool kids club” in real life and we’re still going strong. We all stay in touch, and are all having a laugh watching how this is all unfolding!

Does either one of you want to come back and compete on the show on your own?

Right now the stress of the competition hasn’t quite worn off yet, even months later, Haha. If we’re ever looking for another boost for our shop, or we’re feeling nostalgic, Dane says he’d “gladly shake hands with the devil again”. April is a bit more reluctant.

How can people contact you for tattoo work?

We both work at our new shop, Fountain Square Tattoo in Fountain Square, Indianapolis. We also travel to conventions all over the country pretty often. If anyone is interested in booking an appointment in Indianapolis or beyond, they can reach us on our website or they can follow us on Instagram to stay updated on our travels. @danesmithtattoo and @aprilnicoletattoos


Special thanks to Dean and April for talking with CarterMatt about their time on Ink Master. This is a team we were easily rooting for (go married couples!) and it was a bummer to see them go out on a great tattoo.

Be sure to leave us a comment in the box below and share with us what you thought of Artistic Skin Design’s elimination or if you have a tattoo by them you want to share!

Also, if you want more scoop on Ink Master season 9 then head on over to the link here and check out some of our other interviews with the artists. We also have episode reviews as well as previews for all 9 seasons. (Photo: Spike TV)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!