Is Ink Master Scripted or Real?

With a sheer focus on the skillsets of some of the most renowned tattoo artists as they compete for a $100,000+ grand prize as well as a lifetime of bragging rights, ‘Ink Master’ is unlike any other. That’s because not only is every challenge evaluated by experts and enthusiasts of the field alike, but it also emphasizes the importance of self-expression and creativity at every step of the way. So now that we’ve seen the intricate manner in which things play out within this gripping Paramount production, let’s find out precisely how much of it is authentic — if even at all — shall we?

Is Ink Master Real or Fake?

‘Ink Master’ has been billed as an unscripted reality competition series from the moment it was announced back in 2011 (premiered in early 2012), yet its entire actuality is a little more complex. While it’s true that neither the contestants nor the judges, let alone the human canvases, are ever handed any pre-written lines to execute in front of the cameras, there is producer interference. This facet is not surprising considering the myriad of resources utilized to ensure the show’s long-term success as well as relevance, but the reported extent of the strategic planning/influence is.

According to former human canvas Corey Matchem, several aspects that make it to our screens are purely for entertainment; they’re added to enhance the viewer experience and nothing more. The prime example he gave is of the admittedly thrilling time constraints serving no real purpose since “no one ever came down [to] the wire, most artists finished hours before, and some even went over.” He also candidly added, “none of the judges were ever on set. They only showed up for 5 minutes to walk around from booth to booth so they could edit them being there the whole time.”

As if that’s not enough, Corey further disclosed the interpersonal drama and hostility we often see amongst the body artists rarely exists in the real world, at least, as per his first-hand knowledge. “They aren’t directly asked to argue, but there’s no real tension on set,” he asserted. “The artists are made aware the more of a scene created, the more the cameras will focus on you.” Corey even essentially debunked the whole idea of the canvas jury by conceding they were affected by the producers’ job of controlling the narrative — “We did get to speak our minds, but it never aired.”

However, it’s imperative to mention season 13 tattooist Jessa Bigelow has since backed the authentic notion in an Ask Me Anything session on her Instagram Stories (in 2020). She’d actually clarified the series is “not scripted” by explaining, “There are times where we need to discuss things maybe we wouldn’t normally discuss. So that sucks, [yet] the emotions you see portrayed are real.”

The New Jersey-based artist had continued, “Of course, there are scenes that are too long to air so they show the most important parts. Essentially, it’s a game/contest… and you get to watch how we compete… We aren’t acting behind the camera but we also can’t help the way we look once it’s edited.” Nevertheless, the latter post-production process is unavoidable as it ties everything together.

Apart from scheduling the challenges as well as hand-picking the cast, because there is no direct producer manufacturing involved — merely manipulation — ‘Ink Master’ is thus as real and natural as it can be. Though, we need to reiterate you should always take any such original series’ with a grain of salt as you never really know how far producers can go to maintain the audience’s interest.

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