Ink Master: Angels interview: Kelly Doty on positivity, judging and Ink Master differences

Ink Master Angels

There’s no denying it – Kelly Doty is an incredible tattoo artist, (one of our all time favorites actually), so when we heard that she was going to be on Ink Master: Angels along with Ryan Ashley Malarkey, Nikki Simpson and Gia Rose to say that we were excited might be an understatement.

To add to our excitement, we had a chance to talk to Kelly and it was such a fun interview to conduct. She’s so incredibly funny and if we could just hire her to follow us around an narrate our lives we would. Kelly spoke to us about what made her want to do a project like Ink Master: Angels, what it was like being a judge, and giving viewers someone to identify with.

CarterMatt – So what made you want to do Ink Master: Angels?

Kelly Doty – The first thing was honestly getting to work with the girls again. We have all become really good friends and it’s genuinely a lot of fun to be with them. Also, it was an opportunity to show something really positive. That’s my favorite thing — I feel like we were a positive force for female artists in the tattoo industry on Ink Master and then with Ink Master: Angels it’s really based on a lot of positivity and representing the industry. We are shining a light on up-and-coming artists who work their butts off and deserve it.

So what did you enjoy about working on a show that is very much female-focused?

I feel like it’s a matter of representation. A lot of the time when you’re a part of a smaller group in a community you feel like you don’t see yourself represented in the media very often. To be able to show female tattooers in a really strong manner was kind of a no-brainer. It’s important for people to see other people on TV who they can identify with. If we are able to do that a little bit then that’s huge for us.

With Ink Master you were in the studio and this has you more on the road. What were some of the biggest differences?

It’s so different. It was literally opposite day. With Ink Master you’re confined. I don’t want to say it’s a cave because it’s very well-decorated — the couches are all purple velvet so it’s almost like you’re sitting on Prince, but with this there’s so much traveling and freedom and being in different places constantly. I definitely prefer the state of affairs on Ink Master: Angels because there’s so much freedom and you get to see so many awesome things and meet new people. Also, there’s not the crushing paranoia chewing away at your soul like there is on Ink Master (laughs). That was nice.

You’re going to have different artists competing on this show, so what were some of the different qualities you were looking for when you were out there choosing artists?

The first thing I look for is strong fundamentals — that sounds like a broken record, but it’s honestly the most-important thing. It’s the building blocks of a good tattoo: If you have strong consistent linework, smooth shading, your colors are saturated, if you’re not damaging the skin — all of these basic things are what’s going to come together to make a really versatile artist.

For my own part, I’m looking for someone to be really creative — tell a story or think outside the box. Just do something extra that wasn’t asked of you, but it shows how much you love tattooing.

We were talking a little earlier about the differences with this show and Ink Master. On Ink Master people were judging you and now you’re stepping into the role of a judge — how was that for you?

Oh my god, it’s amazing — I’m drunk with power (laughs). It’s amazing, but it does weigh on your soul in a different way. These people are pouring everything they have into the competition, and you have to stand there and sometimes have to deliver a crushing blow. It feels horrible since you’re tearing somebody’s work apart. We always try to do it in the most constructive way and offer solutions when we can — we want everyone to grow from what we’re saying.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but if I am being completely honest it’s a lot harder to be on Ink Master and have to listen to someone else tell you what you’ve done wrong with your life’s work.

So now that you’ve been on both shows, would you want to go back to either one in the future?

I would definitely do more Ink Master: Angels. The tricky thing with Ink Master is that lack of freedom — when you’re on that show you have to leave your entire life behind. That’s probably the thing that weighs the most on anyone who goes on that show. They’re leaving their families behind and all of their responsibilities have to be put on somebody else’s shoulders. You’ve got that playing on the back of your head. I don’t think I would do Ink Master again.

But with Ink Master: Angels you do have a little bit more of that freedom…

Yeah. The shooting schedule is different and you’re not secluded the way that you are on Ink Master. You have freedom and you can take care of business. On Ink Master you’re 100% secluded.

What are you hoping that viewers are going to take away from watching Ink Master: Angels?

I really hope that they see what a positive thing tattooing can be and how liberating it can be not only for the tattooer, but the person being tattooed. It has to do a lot with people’s stories and it really has an uplifting message.

Plus, it’s going to showcase some amazing artists — I didn’t even know about them, but when I saw their work I was blown away. I’m a dork for tattooing.

Is there anything that you’re taking away from this show that you’re hoping to use as an artist going forward?

Here’s the thing — we are watching so many different people work! I’m absolutely a scavenger. If I’m watching someone work and I’m enjoying what they’re doing, I’m probably going to watch them harder and try and take that technique. I think every artist should do that — if you’re seeing someone doing something that you love and you want to incorporate that, watch them and try to learn from them. I was not only doing that on Ink Master: Angels but also on Ink Master. I think the person I learned the most from was probably Nikki Simpson — she’s only been tattooing for five or six years now, but she does things that many other artists don’t.


We want to give a very special thanks to Kelly for talking to us about her experience working on Ink Master: Angels. Be sure to check out the premiere on Spike airing on October 3 at 10 pm.

How excited are you to watch Ink Master Angels? Leave us a comment in the CarterMatt comments section below and tell us what you are looking forward to with this show. If you are looking for more scoop on Ink Master Angels head on over to the link here and check out more of our coverage including some of our interviews with the other angels.

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