Top Tattoo Artists Compete in Richmond for Ultimate Bragging Rights

by | Apr 14, 2016 | TATTOO CULTURE

Tattoos are more than just designs on someone’s body here in Richmond. They’re something our city is now known for and have become just as much a part of our rich culture as murals or music venues are.

Richmond has become so obsessed that now we’re even holding a competition for them. Jesse Smith, tattoo artist and shop owner of Carytown tattoo parlor Loose Screw Tattoo, will hold a tattoo competition at Sine next week with a chance for 20 artists to show off their greatest artwork for a chance to win some sweet prizes.

“Its going to be a big event with lots of tattoo artists,” said Smith. “We’re taking the first 20 people and the best tattoo wins.”

Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler will judge the competition, along with Smith and Ink Master season 2 winner Steven Tefft. The winner will receive $50, $100, and $150 gift certificates towards their next tattoo at Loose Screw Tattoo, a Sine’s gift certificates and swag from our liquor sponsors.

Judges will be looking at people who already have tattoos on their bodies. The award goes to the canvas and the original tattoo artist.

Smith said the judges aren’t looking for a certain style or technique, just bring your “A” game.

In addition to the competition, 20 finalists and winners from Spike TV’s Ink Masters will fly in for the competition to meet and greet people and the evening will culminate with a viewing party of the current season of Ink Master, to watch Smith compete for a $100,000 prize and the title of Ink Master.

“If anybody is interested in meeting any of the cast, they will be there,” he said. “A lot of them are pretty well-known.”

Raffle items will also be available to win with all donations going to Ink Master and tattoo artist Clint Cummings, who is currently battling colorectal cancer.

“We’re going try to raise a bunch of money for him,” Smith said.

Some of the raffle items will include prints from winner season 6 Ink Master Dave Kruseman, a 4 hour tattoo with Jesse Smith, original painting by Sarah Miller, etc.

This will be Smith’s second time competing on the tattoo reality show. The artist who’s been tattooing for 18 years also participated in Season 2 which is when he said he got the idea for these viewing parties.

“Basically {the ideas was} to have a party in our city and invite everybody else, it ended up taking off,” he said.

Smith said he threw two of them in the past that were successful so he thought he’d try to do something big since he’s competing on this season. And this party will also celebrate Loose Screw’s five-year anniversary.

This season of Ink Master is sort of like a quasi-all star season according to Smith.

“What they’re doing is bring back old contestants to battle it out with some new contestants,” he said. “I ended up going back for that because I wanted to be a part of the best of the best.”

The tattoo artist said its a very surreal experience being on the show, but has also been very rewarding.

“You’re forced to tattoo in styles you’re not comfortable with, in situations you’re not comfortable in,” he said. “I’ve made some really good friends on the show, some of these friends that I’ve made I would have never made if it had not been for the show because they’re so outside the box.”

After the competition next Tuesday, Smith and the other artists will head out to Splat Brothers Paintball in Hopewell which is open to the public so come and show off your skills.

The Ink Masters viewing party and tattoo competition will be held Tuesday, April 19th at Sine Irish Pub at 7 pm and the show starts at 10 pm. The paintball tournament starts at 11 am.

Amy David

Amy David

Amy David was the Web Editor for from May 2015 until September 2018. She covered craft beer, food, music, art and more. She's been a journalist since 2010 and attended Radford University. She enjoys dogs, beer, tacos, and Bob's Burgers references.

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