Laura Marie Becomes Second Female Tattoo Artist to Win Ink Master Title
The moment has finally arrived. After three months of insane flash challenges with coffee beans and paint balls, dramatic head-to-head battles, a slew of celebrity guest coaches, and some tear-inducing moments, the Battle of the Sexes has finally come to an end.
Laura Marie Wachholder has been crowned the winner of Ink Master Season 12, making her the second female tattooer to win the title in the show’s history. She follows in the footsteps of Ryan Ashley Malarkey, winner of Season 8 and upcoming judge on the new Ink Master series Grudge Match.
It all went down in Las Vegas, in front of a live studio audience. However, the episode did not air live on television. The action was taped a few days before the air date, which was a switch from the show’s traditional live season finale.
The judges were decked out in their finest attire. There was excitement, drama, intrigue, and trash talking. Let’s get right into our final Season 12 recap:
Crowning Laura Marie As Battle of the Sexes Winner
This season started with an even split of men and women, with 18 artists gathering in the New York studios to work towards the finale. It was the first time that Ink Master had so many women participate on the show, and the ladies quickly dubbed themselves “Team Peach.”
The competition between the men and women stayed pretty even throughout the three-month run. But in the end, the women were triumphant—sending both Laura Marie and Dani Ryan to the finale to tattoo against solo men’s team contestant “Creepy” Jason.
Finale viewers got a sneak peek into the master-canvas sessions in the artists’ hometowns. Laura, who worked on her traditional Japanese backpiece tattoo at her studio Atomic Roc in Rochester, New York, decided to make a rendition of Japanese thunder god Raijin. “As a woman in this industry, I feel like I have more to prove,” Laura said. “To win Ink Master? That’s the ultimate goal.”
Dani worked on her Biomechanical backpiece tattoo at 1001 Troubles in Warren, Rhode Island. Never having done a Biomechanical tattoo before, Dani admitted that her tattoo was a serious challenge. “I’m doing my first Biomechanical tattoo and I’m doing my first large backpiece on the biggest stage for tattoo artists,” she said. “The pressure is on.”
Creepy Jason, who was given the task of working on a black and grey realism piece, tattooed at his shop, House of Madness Tattoos in Hampstead, Maryland. While Dani and Laura assumed a black and grey piece would take the fun out of tattooing for Jason, they were definitely wrong. In the footage of the tattoo sessions, Jason seemed confident and excited about his voluptuous pirate lady backpiece. “I’m coming out guns a blazin’,” said Jason.
Then came time for the reveals. Dani was first, and showed off a badass blue Biomechanical backpiece with a pop of orange fire in the middle. “I wanted to do something that was bright and vibrant,” she said.
Jason revealed his busty, pirate piece next, which was greeted with a lot of fanfare from the crowd.
Laura revealed her tattoo last, and you could hear an audible “wow” from Dave Navarro.
During judging, Chris Nunez called Laura’s Japanese tattoo “a hell of a tattoo,” and said he “loved what she did”—high compliments from a Japanese master.
But the judges found small areas to critique in each tattoo. Jason got knocked out first due to the lack of black and the fact that the tattoo pulled more towards illustration rather than realism.
So it was down to the two women, and the voting was not unanimous. Nunez cast his vote for Laura, while Navarro put his in for Dani. The whole thing came down to Oliver Peck and his decision. He called it “one of the tightest races he’s ever seen.”
But ultimately his “bold will hold” mantra caused him to vote for Laura, making her the winner of Season 12.
Bringing Back Season 12 Contestants
In addition to the three finalists, the Ink Master finale brought back the other Season 12 contestants from both the men’s and women’s team.
The judges stirred the pot almost immediately by mentioning all the “hate” Pon received on social media for saying cliched, gender-bashing comments to the women. But Pon simply said that he was just “busting balls” and that it was all in good fun.
Holli Marie chimed into say that the way Pon acted was simply a representation of what it’s like to be a female artist in some tattoo studios. “That’s why I say no tears in tattooing,” she said. “If you don’t have the spine to stand up for yourself and take no crap, then don’t be here.”
Both finalists, Laura and Jason, pulled Cam Pohl back into the competition to talk about the “alliance,” which Laura referred to as “more of an association.” They said that while the strategizing between each other was dramatized, it simply came from a place of respect.
“When I think of someone who’s an Ink Master, I want someone who can work well with women and men,” said Laura. “I don’t want this divide that we have right now.”
The Clash of the Coaches
The finale, which was filmed in Las Vegas in front of an audience, brought back the winning coaches in a “Clash of the Coaches” face-off for $25,000. They were staggered around the stage, tattooing while the action was going on below.
“There’s some heavy competition,” said Season 8 winner Ryan Ashley Malarkey. “It’s kind of like a battle of the titans.”
“I just wanted to make it to the finale and tattoo against the best that there is,” added Nikki Simpson, who kept up her spicy rapport with Josh Payne throughout the night.
The following tattoo coaches competed against each other on tonight’s episode:
- DJ Tambe
- Ryan Ashley Malarkey
- Duffy Fortner
- Megan Jean Morris
- Nikki Simpson
- Jime Litwalk
- Bubba Irwin
The coaches chose a skull that determined the style of the tattoo that they would have to tattoo during the finale. The choices were black and grey, surrealistic, New School, or
But that doesn’t mean that the other coaches were left out of the festivities. Fan favorites including Kelly Doty, Katie McGowan, Josh Payne, and more were involved in and part of the finale show. In fact, Kelly stepped in as a show host to reveal sneak peeks at the coaches tattoos while the judges were banished to the Green Room.
When it came to judging, there was no criticism from any of the coaches. All of the tattoos were flawless. But the ultimate decision wound up being between two Ink Masters, Ryan Ashley and DJ Tambe. But we were surprised to see Bubba Irwin’s play not make it to the top two.
But it was Ryan Ashley who took home another win for the women. She beat out DJ and took home the $25,000 prize.