Kelly McEvoy (@k_McEvoy)
Originally from a rural farm in West Virginia, Kelly McEvoy knew she wanted to be a tattoo artist from a young age and chose this career path at her ninth grade career fair. Her passion for tattooing runs in the family, as two of her four siblings are also tattoo artists. Tattooing for over four years, McEvoy had her first apprenticeship at an old-school biker shop where she proved she could hold her own against the boys. She lives by her favorite Marilyn Monroe quote, “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it.” Today she works at a brand-new studio, Cloak & Dagger, in Oak Hills, where McEvoy is the shop’s only female tattooist. Even though she is surrounded by boys, the two most important men in her life are her eight-year-old son, Rowan, and her longtime boyfriend, George.
Derek Rubright (@derek_rubright)
Las Vegas, NV
A University of Southern California graduate, Derek Rubright always knew that he would be an artist. He learned his strong work ethic when he became the head of his household at age 18 following his mother’s death. In addition to his blunt and opinionated personality, Rubright is a wildly competitive tattooist, having won numerous “Day Of” and “Best in Show” awards at various competitions. Thanks to his undeniable talent, he is the go-to artist for many UFC fighters. Rubright believes tattoos should be earned, and he will not hesitate to speak his mind if he encounters a bad one.
DJ Tambe (@DJtambe)
Las Vegas, NV
Having worked as a tattoo artist for 15 years, DJ Tambe is a well-established tattoo veteran. He grew up in Rochester, New York, where he began practicing with graffiti art. He comes from a large Italian family with whom he remains close and has two children of his own. Despite a rough period battling drug addiction, DJ has overcome his past struggles and is more competitive than ever. He has won more than 25 awards from various conventions and most recently beat out “Best Ink” season one contestant Roman Obrego at Lake Havasu. A strong believer in “tattoo ethics,” DJ is not afraid to speak his mind about the work of others, even if his opinion is critical.
Teresa Sharpe (@teresasharpeart)
Fort Wayne, IN
From a small town in Indiana, Teresa Sharpe had anything but a smooth childhood growing up. Due to the circumstances surrounding her family, Sharpe quickly became independent when she was named the custodial guardian of two of her siblings and adopted her younger brother, Brandon, all of whom she subsequently raised. Although Sharpe was always artistic, it was not until she got a piercing apprenticeship while attending college for fine art that she realized her true passion was in tattoos. This past winter, Teresa went on the road to work in various shops all over the country. In addition to her four-year run with tattoos, Sharpe is a true artist who also paints, draws, and sculpts.
Melvin Todd (@MelvinTodd_LS)
After overcoming a childhood of financial hardship, Melvin Todd attended Auburn University, where he landed his first apprenticeship. Having tattooed for eight years, Todd is confident he is the best artist in his Atlanta shop, City of Ink, owned by renowned tattoo artist Miya Bailey. Todd has also created his own company, Loveless Society, which keeps his mind off his self-proclaimed “crazy” love life. Although Todd may be struggling to maintain a successful relationship, he is certainly not struggling with his career after taking his work international this past year. With his eye on success, Todd has one true dream: to be fortunate enough to buy his mother a home one day. And he hopes to show people that no matter their social background, everyone can achieve their dreams by never doubting themselves.
Ralph Giordano (@ralphygtattoo)
Yorktown Heights, NY
Despite his rough exterior, Ralph Giordano is a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy” with a sweet disposition. While growing up in a funeral home in the Bronx, Giordano realized the family business was not his desired career path. With the support of his parents, he went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where he first learned about the possibility of a career as a tattoo artist. Giordano has been working in the tattoo industry for four years and is highly dedicated to his art. Although he is mild-tempered, Giordano becomes fiercely competitive when needed. The only thing he loves more than a competition is an audience to watch him win it.
Brittany Elliott (@bzelliott)
San Antonio, TX
Born and raised in Texas, Brittany Elliott is not one to back down for anyone or anything. Between ending a long-term romance and the passing of her mother, Elliott is now learning what it is like to be truly independent. Consumed by art, she spends her time tattooing, designing clothes, sewing, and collecting interesting odds and ends. Since the start of her career four years ago, Elliott has been attending conventions. Although she has a successful career tattooing, Elliot also spends much of her time making her own heavy metal treasures, including studded and spiked acid-washed and leather vests.
Alli Baker (@alli_tatz)
Oakland Park, KS
Alli Baker has lived in Kansas all her life, and due to family complications, she dropped out of school when she was only 16 years old. Fearless and with no tattoos, Baker secured a loan and landed her first apprenticeship at age 18, in the hope of launching a career as an artist. Eight years later, Baker is one of the top tattoo artists in Kansas City. She learned the importance of maintaining a competitive edge early on in her career, but today Baker loves connecting with her clients just as much as she enjoys competing.
Carolyn Cadaver (@carolyn_cadaver)
After losing her mother at a young age, Carolyn Cadaver was raised by a couple that encouraged her to explore her artistic nature. She purchased her first mannequin in high school and honed her painting skills in her AP art class. Cadaver has been a tattoo artist for eight years and thoroughly enjoys the emotional connection she shares with her clients. A proud wild child, Cadaver sports a unique style with a vampire flare and has several unusual hobbies, including fire-swallowing and fire-dancing. She believes in fighting to stay on top in the male-dominated tattoo industry and relishes competing on the convention circuit.
Jordan “Dollarz” Ginsberg (@DollarzTatu)
After receiving his first tattoo, Jordan Ginsberg was inspired to become a tattoo artist. Having worked since he was 14, he received the nickname “Dollarz” thanks to his strong work ethic. His determination to succeed is prevalent throughout his life. Despite being a tattoo artist for three years, Ginsberg despises needles. When he is not busy using his tattoos to pick up ladies, Ginsberg is working on his music career in a Tampa-based rap group called “Nyte Lyfe Gang.” Additionally, Ginsberg is passionate about song writing and customizing cars. He is extremely confident in his abilities and eager to showcase his skills in the competition.
Tylor Schwarz (@tattoosbytylor)
Having been a tattoo artist for three years, Tylor Schwarz is so passionate about his craft that it sometimes drives him to tears. His friends have gone so far as to say he is “addicted to tattooing.” Schwarz’s skill and tenacity have resulted in honors at tattoo conventions. In addition to tattooing, Schwarz expresses his love of art through various avenues, including playing multiple instruments, painting, drawing, and cooking. After Schwarz’s father abandoned his family when Tylor was 12, the Chicago native became a father figure to his two younger brothers. The experience strengthened his resolve to succeed and, with his mother’s support, the former Abercrombie & Fitch model is making his dreams as an artist come true. With his good looks and competitive nature, Schwarz is determined to set himself apart from his competitors.
Jerod Ray (@jerodsquared)
A self-described preppy, Jerod Ray takes pride in not looking like a typical tattoo artist. He is a self-taught tattooist of five years specializing in fine-art quality portrait work. Ray was raised in a large, artistic family that moved frequently and went without electricity or running water at times. Despite facing hardships, Ray’s family always encouraged his drawing talent as a child and supported him in pursuing his career. Ray has won many “best portrait” awards at tattoo conventions and he believes his willingness to break the traditional rules of tattooing sets him apart from his competition.
Photos by: Andrew Eccles/Oxygen
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