Dave Navarro is a tattoo collector — someone who not only loves tattoos, but loves many different styles by different artists. So when he was invited to host a new Spike TV tattoo competition series, Ink Master, set to launch in early 2012, he didn’t hesitate.
“As a musician, I really like watching the creative process unfold and this would have high stakes,” said Navarro, the guitarist in Jane’s Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other bands. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would go on for 10 seasons.”
Navarro said the show, which began its 10th season last month on Paramount Network (as Spike has been rebranded), is reaching a new peak. “The producer and the folks at Truly Original keep coming up with twists for each season, with new rules and plans that keep everything fresh,” he said, adding, “Pound for pound, the new season has the most drama yet.” (The new format brings back past winners and pits them against each other on teams with newcomers, all vying for a $100,000 prize.)
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On Ink Master, Navarro is host and a judge, alongside tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck. (The series has also spawned progeny Ink Master: Redemption and Ink Master: Angels.) While Nunez and Peck provide nuanced artistic insights, Navarro is the everyman, “the voice of the client.”
“Sometimes they’ll be judging the levels of detail and the shading and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, but it’s a cool tattoo and that’s what the person wanted,’ ” he said, although he has learned much from Nunez and Peck about the art and nuances of the trade. “My understanding from season one to now is night and day.”
Navarro has also learned to like the Truly Original way of doing things. “The great thing about them is they have their hands on the reins but they loosen up enough to allow new directions and creative flow,” he said. “It’s a really beautiful balance and they show a great amount of trust.
“On other shows when someone from the production company shows up people say, ‘Oh no,’ and get nervous,” Navarro added. “But here we hug and celebrate.”
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