Ink Master Finalist Laura Marie Preps for Season 12 Finale
Throughout Season 12 of Paramount Network’s Ink Master, Laura Marie Wachholder—simply known on the series as Laura Marie—was a steady, stealthy competitor and a frontrunner on the women’s team.
Week after week, critique after critique, the Geneseo, N.Y. native and co-owner of Atomic Roc Tattoo in Rochester, impressed the judges with her technical skills and out-of-the-box artistry.
Viewers may not be shocked to see her as one of the three finalists (alongside fellow artists Dani Ryan and “Creepy” Jason Lynn), but Wachholder admits that she never thought she would be one step away from a $100,000 prize and the coveted title of Ink Master.
“I didn’t expect anything going into the competition, nor did I expect to go so far,” she says. “I came into this with an open mind. It’s an amazing feeling being in the finale. Whatever happens happens. I’m just grateful I was able to produce good work and meet amazing people.”
Wachholder says that she’s proud of the work she produced while on the show, despite the challenging timeframes and added pressures of tattooing in a reality-television environment.
“All of my canvases confided in me and gave me artistic freedom,” she says. “I did a bunch of New School tattoos in the competition, but also Japanese and black and grey, so I feel confident in saying my body of work is versatile.”
Preparing for Her Finale Tattoo
For the final challenge, all of the artists were tasked with doing a 35-hour “master canvas” backpiece. The style and subject matter for Wachholder’s tattoo was assigned by her opponents, who tasked her with producing a traditional Japanese color piece.
Although she looked cool as a cucumber when the style was announced, Wachholder admits that it made her nervous. “At first, I was very intimidated by receiving traditional Japanese. I want to show this style of tattooing the respect it deserves,” she says. “As time went on, I realized how much I appreciate it. It basically opened a door to a style that I fell in love with.”
Wachholder says that she spent a lot of time researching the story she wanted to tell and has since immersed herself in traditional Japanese media including watercolor on rice paper and woodblock printing inspired by the Edo period.
While viewers will have to tune in to see Wachholder’s master backpiece reveal, she says she’s proud of how everything turned out. “I’m really happy with my finale piece,” she says.
Friendly Competition Between Finalists
As the Season 12 finale approaches, Wachholder says that there is no bad blood between herself and the other finalists.
“Dani and Jason are my two biggest inspirations,” she says. “They are both so insanely creative and push me to do better work myself. They have earned the right to be here and they have earned both my admiration and my respect.”
Wachholder’s relationship with Ryan developed over time as they became the final two competitors on the women’s team, but Wachholder’s friendship with Lynn was evident from the start. In fact, Wachholder stirred up some criticism from her other female teammates after becoming close with both Lynn and contestant Cam Pohl.
“I know it’s controversial to support someone on the men’s team,” says Wachholder. “But as a finalist and possible Ink Master, I want to show the world that men and women can work together and support each other, even in a competition setting, while also still being supportive of my fellow women. Things aren’t black or white in real life.”
Savoring the Moment and Looking Toward the Future
With the outcome of Season 12 so close, Wachholder says that she’s finally able to take it all in and enjoy the rest of the ride—win or lose.
She’s currently working on a project that plays off of some of the tattoos she produced on the show. “My dream is to create a story from the comic I’m trying to write, whether it be through animation or film,” says Wachholder. “The chrome robot, balloon man, martini rat, laser-gun alien, and the galaxy alien are from a book I’m currently trying to write where they all exist in the same universe.”
But until then, Wachholder says that she’s simply allowing herself to be in the Ink Master moment and celebrate the new friendships and opportunities that have developed as a result of the show.
“Art and tattooing is my whole life. I live and breath it every day. If I had the choice to go back and do it again—even if I couldn’t ultimately change anything—I absolutely would,” she says. “I’m just going to sit back and appreciate every bit of this experience I can before it passes me by.”