Local tattooist competes on reality show

DeKALB – Chris May, owner of Proton Tattoo in DeKalb, beat out 28,000 applicants to land one of 16 spots on this season of “Ink Master.”

“Last year I almost got on the show ‘Tattoo Nightmares’ and I was down to the final five,” May said. He said familiarity with producers and the audition process helped him during this audition process, which included a trip to Chicago and numerous calls and emails with the show’s producers.

“Ink Master” is a reality show on the Spike network in which tattoo artists compete in challenges that test their tattooing abilities and artistic skills. One artist is eliminated from the show each week. The winner is awarded a $100,000 cash prize and given the title of “Ink Master.” 

The show, which is hosted by tattoo aficionado and Jane’s Addiction musician Dave Navarro, is in its third season. This season’s contestants include four women and 12 men from all over the country. 

“I watched the show and I thought, ‘I could (win) that show,’ but when you get there (on set) they run you through the wringer,” he said.

May thinks the producers were also impressed by the fact that he studied stand-up comedy at Second City in Chicago.

“Christopher has been a funny guy since before he started doing stand-up,” May’s mother, Janet May of Steward, said as he tattooed her arm. “He was always one of those kids who pushed until he got what he wanted.”

The show is filmed in New York. For the show’s season premiere, which airs on Tuesday, July 16, the contestants went to a prison to tattoo inmates who were the “canvases” that the panel of judges evaluate as part of the competition. 

“I was fortunate that I had some of the best people on there,” Chris May said. “Some people were fighting with their canvases.”

May is prohibited from saying how he did on the show. This season’s Ink Master will be selected live during the season finale in October.

'Ink Master'
Season three premiere will air at 9 p.m. CST Tuesday, July 16, on Spike.
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