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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas tattoo artist Katie McGowan takes a selfie with Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro while shooting for the 12th season of Ink Master. Photo courtesy of Katie McGowan.

An Arkansas tattoo artist headed back to New York recently to coach contestants around the country for the upcoming reality TV competition Ink Master, with this season's contest setting up a battle of the sexes.

Katie McGowan, a Little Rock-area artist, said in an interview Friday she’ll be guiding contestants during the show’s 12th season, offering them advice on their work with the goal of pushing her team to the final stages.

The upcoming episodes set to air June 11 will pit male and female artists against each other. Judges critique their work while whittling down contenders until one person remains and is dubbed the “Ink Master.”

“It’s a young, hungry crowd with lots of talented tattooers,” McGowan said.

The grand prize includes $100,000 and a feature spread in Inked magazine.

But unlike past seasons, the gender breakdown this year is equal parts male and female, a sign of a broader shift within the tattoo industry that’s seen more women enter the profession, McGowan said.

Since she started working in tattoo shops in 2005, McGowan said she’s observed the number of female professionals “exponentially grow," as well as their clientele.

“There’s more opportunity to open their own businesses and be taken seriously and have a voice that’s a little bit different,” she said.

McGowan, 33, competed in the show's sixth and ninth seasons. Her most recent appearance in 2017 saw her and partner Matt O’Baugh ink their ways to the final stages, falling just short of top honors.

Since then, she’s continued working in the Little Rock area and announced plans recently to open “Love Spell Tattoo,” a new shop in Stifft Station along with local artist Jesse Perez.

McGowan said she expects to start tattooing in the space along West Markham and South Woodrow Streets sometime next month.

They’re planning a larger grand opening in July.


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Archived Comments

  • MaxCady
    May 24, 2019 at 12:12 p.m.

    That's one fad I'm glad I never got caught up in.

  • Seitan
    May 24, 2019 at 1:20 p.m.

    Fad? Tattooing has been around for thousands of years. And for most of us who have them, they are extremely meaningful. Anyway, I hope Katie does well. She's one of the good ones.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    May 24, 2019 at 2:22 p.m.

    braindead yuppie scum

  • Seitan
    May 24, 2019 at 2:23 p.m.

    UOA. Don't be so hard on yourself.

  • Jfish
    May 24, 2019 at 2:53 p.m.

    The only advice I would give a young person is to consider it very carefully before getting one that that cannot be easily covered. It might mean alot to you but your employer might not want it prominently displayed all the time. As I recall, most of my veteran uncles were not real proud of the ones they had gotten in their younger years.

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    May 24, 2019 at 5:37 p.m.

    gross and nasty looking. but different strokes for different folks i know i would have discriminated in hiring if an applicant showed up with a tat i could see.

  • Seitan
    May 24, 2019 at 5:44 p.m.

    How utterly shallow of you.

  • MaxCady
    May 24, 2019 at 8:09 p.m.

    Being like everybody is the same as being nobody.

  • GeneralMac
    May 24, 2019 at 8:51 p.m.

    That is a myth that employers won't hire you if you got tattoos.
    My boss couldn't care less.

    signed........Chico the carny barker