After another thrilling episode of Spike TV’s “Ink Master,” Shavertown tattoo artist Ryan Ashley Malarkey is still proudly standing.
Malarkey advanced Tuesday night after an intense challenge that left only four artists remaining. The next episode of “Ink Master” airs at 10 p.m. Nov. 29 and features Malarkey in competition against renowned tattooers Gian Karl Cruz, Nate Beavers and Kelly Doty.
Malarkey is contractually obligated to not reveal any information about future episodes, but she can speak about episodes after they air.
This season of ‘Ink Master’ pits skillful artists from across the country against each other on two teams, led by coaches and renowned artists and shop owners Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez.
Tuesday’s episode featured a team challenge, where members of Team Peck (Malarkey, Cruz and Beavers) faced off against Team Nunez (Doty and Nikki Simpson) in trying to turn their human canvases into cyborgs.
“On Team Peck, all three artists had to tattoo one person at the same time,” Malarkey said. “Every hour a buzzer goes off and we all have to get up and rotate to another person.”
Malarkey said she thought Team Nunez had an advantage because the team of two was inflicting less pain on its canvas and had one fewer perspective to cater to.
Malarkey, who has been a strong member of her team, has befriended and grown close to Doty and Simpson of the opposing team throughout the course of the season.
“I was at a crossroads, because it became, ‘Who do I be faithful to, my team or my friends?’” Malarkey said.
Showing respect to the industry and her canvas was the deciding factor.
“(I couldn’t) dumb myself down or purposely do less of an immaculate job in order to give my friends an advantage,” Malarkey said.
At episode’s end, Malarkey’s team won, and Simpson was sent home after a head-to-head contest with teammate Doty.
“It was bittersweet,” Malarkey said. “That episode was rough.”
Malarkey said she was surprised early on when talented artists went home, but as weeks passed she felt each competitor earned his or her right to move forward.
“I do believe that every artist who is left in the competition truly deserves their place,” she said.
Malarkey will have an open viewing party at 9 p.m. Nov. 29 at Franklin’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre. She’ll be surrounded by friends and family to watch the final taped episode prior to the live finale on Dec. 6.
Malarkey said whether she advances to the finale or not, it is important to her to pay homage to all of the people who have supported her including clients and people who have supported her without knowing her because of pride in the area.
“I feel like I owe it to everyone to bring everyone together and have a room full of love and support,” Malarkey said. “If I make it to the finale, it’s not just my victory. It’s all of our victory, because I couldn’t have done this by myself.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts.