So what is Laura doing to embrace the challenges ahead entering the finale, especially when it comes to her traditional Japanese back piece? In our interview, Laura talks about what’s led her to this point, how she got on the show in the first place, and the incredible amount of research and study that she put into making this final piece the perfect tattoo.
Jessica Carter – What made you decide to come out and be part of Ink Master?
Laura Marie – They actually reached out to me, and they were like ‘we are looking for female tattoo artists to represent the industry and come on the show and do some kickass tattoos.’ I remember that I was really thinking about it and wondering ‘do I really want to do this? Do I want to be a part of this reality world?’. I never thought I had a good personality for it, but after thinking it over and talking to people, I realized that this could be an opportunity to learn a lot.
I had a feeling that I needed to do this for whatever reason.
Had you watched the show before?
I’ve been watching since season 1. I’ve seen almost every single season — it was always one of my guilty pleasures, that and Bar Rescue (laughs).
Was there a moment in the competition that you really felt like you were going home?
The one time I was at the bottom — that was the time that Pon really messed up because his canvas was giving him a hard time — that was really the only time. I didn’t think I was going to go home, but crazy things have happened. You can’t ever feel like you’re safe.
How did you feel when you found out that you were doing traditional, color Japanese for your final tattoo?
My initial thought was that I was intimidated. It’s weird — I hadn’t done the style before, but the subject matter, especially with Japanese mythology, is something that I’ve been really interested in. It’s something that I could at least have some sort of backbone on in order to work off of. I’ve actually been focusing on it so much that I’ve changed how I tattoo back home now. Even though the back piece is completed, I’m still working towards getting better with traditional Japanese. It’s opened up this door for me to a style that I actually feel in love with.
Can you tell me a bit about what the process was like for you preparing for that final tattoo?
I started off researching. I had to figure out what sort of story I wanted to tell. With traditional Japanese, there’s a lot of symbolism behind it and a lot of specific symbolism that is going to correspond with whatever story that you’re trying to tell. I would say 90% of my time was devoted to reading books, and researching. I didn’t even touch on tattoo artists at first. I just wanted to really research these ancient gods and from there, I started to research artists who genuinely did traditional tattoos like Horitomo and Taki from State of Grace [and] pretty much all the guys from Lighthouse Tattoo in Australia, Alex Rusty, Mike Rubendall. I really inspected their work and saw what they were doing. Also, I sat down with artists and watched them work; then, they watched me work. I just talked with them and tried to get my feet in the water.
From there, I started to focus in on my design.
If you had gotten a choice to showcase any style and subject in the final tattoo what would you have chosen?
If I had complete creative freedom, I would have done a lich. A lich can be a man or a woman and they’re usually undead — they’re kind of like a Grim Reaper, a very big, very evil, necrotic zombie who raises and controls the dead. But I think lich is actually European rather than Japanese.
What would winning the Ink Master title mean to you?
It would capitalize on all of the ridiculously long hours and hard work that I’ve put into not just doing tattoos, but also art in general. I have been doing this every single day for almost my whole life, ever since I was five years old when I could hold a pencil. With that being said, unfortunately I spent a lot of my time prioritizing that and I missed out on a lot of hallmark times in my life — like graduation and people’s birthdays. I want it to be worth something. I want it to be worth that sacrifice of putting almost everything in my entire life into this one thing.
What makes you especially fascinated by doing space related tattoos? I love space too and I have only one tattoo, but it’s also space related.
They’re actually not my specialty at all. As an artist, I go through points in my life where I’m really interested in something and I wanna zone in and master that. I guess over the course of Ink Master the one thing I decided to be really into were aliens. It was a really good time to do that, because that’s when all of the Area 51 memes were going on! I think that needed to happen (laughs). I think there were times when I was like ‘do I really need to do another alien?’, but for some reason I told myself that I have to. I didn’t know why and now I do — it was just the perfect timing.
My interests are very broad. I try to find enjoyment and interest in a lot of different things. This is just one of them.
You mentioned this season that Ink Master feels like home and that you’ve had more of a family here then outside the competition. What do you think formed these family bonds for you?
It’s a lot like Stockholm Syndrome, where you’re abducted with all of these people and go through something. Ink Master is a stressful environment! You get all of these people together who you’ve never met and you have to live with them and go through the same thing. You can’t relate to any other people on the planet because they’re the only people who know. Even people on past seasons don’t necessarily get what you went through because they’re all different.
To me, that was the big reason why I didn’t want to go home. It didn’t have to do with the money; it just felt like that was home.
What have you learned about yourself and your art through this process?
I went into this not super-confident — I didn’t necessarily think I was doing everything wrong, but going into it I learned I was doing a few things wrong. I wasn’t putting solid lines in my tattoos. I didn’t take enough time with my coloring. That was the base thing I learned — how to be a better artist. Not only that, but how to be a better person. You have to learn to live with these people — not just the contestants, but also the producers. They’re there a lot — sometimes, fifteen hours a day, and it feels like you’re living with them, too. You get to learn how you deal with pressure and how you perform under pressure. Sometimes, you say things you don’t mean and in that way, it opened my eyes about who I am and who I want to be in the best way, not in a bad way. Not to fit someone else’s approval, but to just feel better.
Are you rooting for Laura Marie to win Ink Master season 12? Be sure to share in the comments below. (Photo: Paramount Network.)
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