UPDATE SEPT. 27: DJ Tambe and his friend, Bubba Irwin, are the winners of "Ink Master" this season!
Christian Buckingham and Noelin Wheeler of Basilica Tattoo in Las Vegas also made it to the finals this season, along with Matt O'Baugh and Katie McGowan of Black Cobra Tattooos in Arkansas.
The final shops were each assigned two master canvases, or full-body tattoos. One piece had to be in color and another in black and gray. They also competed in a 7-hour tattoo competition leading to the live finale. Fans voted for Black Cobra Tattoos, while Basilica Tattoo was eliminated.
The two shops left then revealed their master canvases to the judges, where Tambe and Irwin were selected as the winners. Both received a combined cash prize of $200,000, a feature article in the tattoo magazine Inked, and the title of "Master Shop."
UPDATE SEPT. 25: DJ Tambe is one step away from the "Ink Master" finals and the $200,000 grand prize. All he needs is your votes to help propel him into the finals. VOTE HERE
ORIGINAL STORY: A local tattoo artist has made it to the semi-finals in a Spike TV reality show competition called "Ink Master." If he and his friend win, they'll get $200,000, an editorial feature in Inked Magazine, and the title of "Master Shop."
DJ Tambe has been working at Bad Apple Tattoo for the past ten years, though he's representing Old Town Ink from Arizona in the show. He says that his friend, Bubba, called him up because he specialized in illustrative tattoos, whereas Bubba tends to create works that are more realistic. Together, they figured their talents could help them make a deep run in the competition.
"I guess it was a smart decision on his part," DJ said.
So far, the duo has excelled in the competition, winning three flash challenges, two faceoff challenges, and Best Tattoo of the Day in three episodes. DJ was especially proud of how Old Town Ink has performed so far.
"Every tattoo we do is clean," he said. "Some of our worst is better than some of their best.
DJ also says that things haven't changed much in his personal life since he started doing the show. He got a lot of tattoo appointments before starting "Ink Master," though now his waiting list is booked solid until the end of January.
"It's cool to see friends talking about the show," DJ said. "I was in the doctor's office yesterday taking pictures with people. It's pretty overwhelming, it's pretty cool, and I enjoy all of it."
DJ is hosting a watch party for the next episode of "Ink Master" on Sept. 19 at Distill, located at 10820 West Charleston Boulevard. The event runs from 6-9 p.m.