By Madeline Hughes
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This season on “Ink Master” it is a battle of the sexes, the teams are men versus women that compete weekly, and one person will win $100,000. Tattoo artist Ashley McNamara (pictured on the right) is sure to bring some serious skills to the female team when it premieres June 11.
Six years ago, Ashley McNamara was sitting behind a desk thinking about her artwork instead of her job. She realized she didn’t belong in an office, sitting behind a computer.
“I noticed people were interested in getting things like (what I was drawing) on their body,” said McNamara, who decided to try tattooing. “Now I get to sit everyday doing something I love.”
In the five years of her tattoo career, McNamara has been successful — booking appointments about six months in advance.
She opened her own shop called ANONEISON in Salem in April after she was part of the television show “Ink Master.”
McNamara wasn’t sure how much she could talk about the show specifically, but she did say she is in more than one episode of season 12 of the reality television show. The show is a tattoo competition
This season is a battle of the sexes, the teams are men versus women that compete weekly, and one person will win $100,000. It premiers June 11.
“It’s rough,” McNamara said. “You are up very early, like 5:30 in the morning, and you go to bed around midnight. And your phone is taken the whole time.”
Being part of the show brought her back to her days as an apprentice — it was hard, but she learned lots.
Breaking into the industry
Two years after graduating college in 2011, McNamara left her office job and began a tattoo apprenticeship in London.
As a tattoo apprentice you don’t get paid, McNamara explained, especially in the first few months when an apprentice is cleaning the shop and drawing. After blowing through her savings, she accepted an apprenticeship in Los Angeles County, where she was able to work two other jobs to be able to afford being an apprentice.
“You are broke for years and years,” she said.
However, the hard work pays off, she said.
“It takes years to build an art portfolio. Then someone has to trust you enough to do art on their body,” McNamara said. “You start doing tiny things, and slowly work your way up to something big.”
After two years on the West Coast, McNamara returned east. She worked at Seaport Tattoo in Boston, building up her East Coast clientele. She recently bought a house in Salem with her fiance, which prompted her to open her own shop, ANONEISON Tattoo in Salem.
McNamara’s shop got its name from her AOL Instant Messanger username, ANONEISON, which evolved from “andnooneison” with a few letters removed.
With the new shop, McNamara hopes to bring on her own apprentice soon.
Trusting the process
On a recent afternoon, 20-year-old Nick Corcoran of Lawrence was sitting in McNamara’s chair getting his first tattoo. A few hours into his tattoo of a bald eagle, McNamara suggested adding an American flag in the background.
“It was a slow merging of ideas,” she said.
Nearing the end of the appointment, she suggested a blue eye for the eagle. Standing in the mirror she drew it on Corcoran’s arm, and he agreed it looked good.
“It’s kind of awesome because he lets me do my thing,” McNamara said.
Corcoran said he trusted her as the artist, and her designs on Instagram were the reason why he decided to choose her shop.
Sometimes McNamara said her ideas clash with those of her clients, but most of the time people are easy-going. When a client wants a tattoo they send her a reference, and she creates a tattoo from that, she said.
“It is painful, but she made it way easier,” Corcoran said, adding that the numbing cream worked wonders. “I was nervous when I came in, but I talked with her, and my nerves dropped.”