SALEM — A tattoo artist who opened her first solo shop in April is a contestant featured on Paramount Network’s reality contest show “Ink Master,” which airs June 11.
Before Ashley McNamara took her first client on April 7 at her new location in the small plaza at 115 Main St. in Salem, she participated in the 12th season of Ink Master. The show was filmed in Newark, N.J., in January.
McNamara will appear under the pseudonym “Ashley Anoneison” in a season dubbed “Battle of the Sexes” as it pits male and female teams against each another for a chance to win $100,000, according to a news release.
Winners will also earn an editorial feature in Inked magazine and the title of “Ink Master.”
Each episode focuses on a different style of tattooing. Contestants are judged by a panel made up of guitarist Dave Navarro and tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck.
“It’s definitely a big-time learning experience,” McNamara said.
She said being on the show felt like redoing her apprenticeship, because it forces contestants to work outside their comfort zones.
“It’s kinda stressful, but that’s the whole point of the show, I guess,” she said.
McNamara got so involved in the contest that she would forget she was on a show at times, she said. She enjoyed meeting other artists and making new friends.
The show can benefit tattoo artists by getting their names out there, McNamara said, but she said her business was already going well.
Her pseudonym on the show is based on her shop name, Anoneison, which is her longtime social media handle on Instagram and other platforms. She said it originated as an AOL Instant Messenger username that was a play on the phrase “and no one is on.” Anoneison is booked through the end of September.
McNamara specializes in realistic black and gray pieces. She tends to spend a single day on one customer in five to eight hour blocks and charges $200 an hour.
Customers often will add pieces to their arm that eventually form a sleeve. McNamara estimates she sees about 25 customers a month.
McNamara grew her following on Instagram with artwork, some of which she describes as dark and creepy.
“People would follow me not knowing if I was a girl or a guy,” McNamara said. “Nobody expected me to pop out.”
Originally from Stoneham, Mass., McNamara got her start in a California shop for three years after apprenticing in Los Angeles and London.
After that, she worked at The Boston Tattoo Company in Somerville, Mass., for a year, and then at Seaport Tattoo Company in South Boston for about a year and a half. This is her fifth year tattooing professionally.
McNamara said she’s been an artist since she was a child, and has memories of her mother catching her drawing at all hours of the night.
“Everyone has their style. Mine was always based on photographs,” McNamara said.
“Ink Master” premieres June 11 at 10 a.m. on Paramount Network.
McNamara can be followed on Twitter or Instagram under the handle @anoneison.