Where Are They Now: The Top 5 From ‘Ink Master’ Season 1!

After 15 seasons there have been many contestants on ‘Ink Master’ but what happens after the show is over? We’re looking back at some of our favs from season 1 and where they are now.

Tattoos and competition have been around for thousands of years. But what if we combined the two? That’s how you get the hit show ‘Ink Master’. Since 2012 ‘Ink Master’ has pitted tattoo artists against one another and their tattoos under the microscope to see who deserves to be titled Ink Master. With season 15 underway we decided to take a look back at the top five contestants of season one and see where they have ended up.

5. Lea Vendetta


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After stealing the show with her French charm and her passion for the art deco style, Lea Vendetta wowed judges with her close-up portraits of animals and flowers alike, she was able to reach the top five of Ink Master season one but sadly came up short when she couldn’t manage to successfully tattoo her pin-up girl’s hands as well as her peers. Lea didn’t let the loss stop her passion for tattoos and modeling and now tattoos at Family Tradition Tattoo in North Carolina while modeling all around the world along with her paintings in places like New York and Paris.

4. Josh Woods


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Coming on the list in 4th place is tattoo artist/musician Josh Woods. Seeing and learning about tattoos in the music scenes brought him into the world of ink and needles and eventually to Ink Master. Bringing bright colors and his new school cartoon style of tattooing Josh is recognized as one of the best ‘cartoony’ style tattoo artists there are. His expertise became his undoing however as he was unable to do tattoos out of his preferred style and presenting a poor portrait tattoo. Josh went on to still have success and now owns his own shop, Black 13 Tattoo, in Nashville, Tennessee, and is still the go-to for new school tattoos.

3. James Vaughn


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Ever since the age of 12 James Vaughn has been hooked on tattoos. Combining southern charm and his neo-Japanese style of tattooing James was one of Ink Master’s first stars, going on to be a part of their holiday special ‘Merry Ink’. James’s day of reckoning came when his six and twelve hour tattoos fell to Tommy Helm’s and Shane O’Neil’s tattoos. James can be found in Fayetteville, NC, where he is the artist manager at the American Tattoo Society and still doing the best neo-Japanese tattoos the world has ever seen.

2. Tommy Helm


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FIT alumni, Tommy Helm is one of Ink Master’s most recognizable faces as he was not only the shows first ever runner up but he also starred in the spin-off show Tattoo Nightmares along with his fellow artists to offer people with regrettable tattoos, cover-ups for their unsavory ink. Though some believe Tommy should’ve taken home the gold he has done well for himself since his Ink Master days, now tattooing at Old Town Ink in Mesa AZ still tattooing the same bold and solid colors that made him a fan favorite in the first place.

1. Shane O’Neil

The champ is here! Ink Master’s original winner was an artistic beast, dominating the competition with awesome portraits and amazing realism tattoos. Shane O’Neil was crowned the first ever Ink Master and now has multiple tattoo shops under his banner, ‘Infamous Tattoo’. O’Neil talents haven’t just remained in the United States either as he has tattooed in other parts of the world too, being featured in magazines and receiving awards for his tattooing.

About the Author

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Michael Coppola

Michael Coppola is a digital media student, an intern for AfterBuzz, and most importantly a kid who loves shows and movies more than anything.