First Female Ink Master: Ryan Ashley Malarkey

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Tattoo artist and entrepreneur Ryan Ashley Malarkey becomes the first woman to be crowned Ink Master. And it’s a win for feminists.

Not only does Ryan hold a title that has “first” and “woman” in the same sentence, but she also beats the norm of television beauty standards. She has tattoos literally from head to toe — and it’s perfect.

With the final three down to Gian Karle, Kelly Doty, and Malarkey, Ryan brings it up a notch just enough to get her the title of Ink Master, $100,000, a spot at legend Oliver Peck’s shop in Dallas, Texas, and a feature in Inked Magazine.

Season eight had a rough ride with Sketchy Lawyer unexpectedly quitting the show, and a gender war boiling in the competition. Each artist had their own individual style that they were too stubborn to give up, like Kevin Laroy  who refused to outline his work in most challenges. But Ryan came out on top in every challenge, having had “the best tattoo of the day” more than twice in the entire season.

Black and white masterpieces are known to be Ryan’s niche. Yet what got her the win was a beautiful new school 90’s chest piece that scored her creativity points, and showed her ability to work outside the box. It’s extremely credible to be able to show one’s ability to adapt and work creatively with what is given as an artist — like a canvas who wants a difficult, colorful piece done by a mainly black and white artist. Additionally, Ryan has been tattooing for four years, while most of the other artists on the show only have several years under their belt.

Ryan’s also an entrepreneur. She co-owns Unusual Oddities Parlor in Kingston, Pennsylvania. The parlor sells taxidermy and other weird items for the odd person.

“Last year, while searching for the perfect place to call my studio, my boyfriend and I decided to combine forces and entertain both our mutual interests in the weird and bizarre and the intimate, upscale tattoo studio I had been longing to own,” she told Inked Magazine.

Ryan’s win in the studio and in her shop is indeed a win for feminists. Women are often drowned out in the tattoo industry because it’s heavily male-dominated. In addition to this, the arts in general are slept on. It’s hoped this will be a kick start for more women winners to come.

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