Tattoos are permanent, television shows are not. After three years of production, saturated toilet seats, infamous “Kat” fights, and a shitload of tattoos, Miami Ink is hanging it up.
Its fourth and final season is now airing on TLC, but the tattoo artists, and the shop itself, have already moved on. The famous studio has been converted into a gift shop, and customers still looking to get inked are directed to a new studio MI alumni Ami James and Chris Núñez opened up down the street in Miami: Love Hate Tattoos.
After filming ended last year, Ami and Núñez declined the offer from Discovery Communications, TLC’s parent company, to film more episodes of the reality show. “We weren’t happy with the way we were treated,” said James.
Premiering in June of 2005, Miami Ink was a breakout, genre-setting series that followed the daily events of a tattoo shop in South Beach. Co-owned by James and Núñez, the shop featured tattoo artists Chris Garver, Darren Brass and apprentice Yoji Harada. Kat Von D was brought on for the first season and “left” at the end of season two, after months of fighting and a final showdown with James.
Miami Ink featured some brilliant artwork and razor-sharp talent, but the show’s ultimate success came by altering the perception of tattoos; particularly who has tattoos, who gets tattooed and why. Due to its widespread popularity (since its premiere, the show has aired in over 160 countries), the demand for more tattoo-related programming exploded.
And then came the spin-offs. Shortly after Von D left Miami Ink and moved back home to Los Angeles, she nestled in with LA Ink, and since then London Ink, Rio Ink, and Inked on A&E have all stepped up to the plate. But not all of these shows are scoring.
Where Miami Ink, and LA Ink respectively, offer an insider’s peek at folks sharing colorful, often touching stories behind their tattoo choices while exceptional artists apply their talent to their skin, shows such as Inked take the focus off of art and concentrate on the not-so-interesting lives of the artists, much like a Gen-Y soap opera.
Shot at the Hart and Huntington Tattoo Company in the glammy Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, episodes include the receptionist deciding whether or not to get bigger tits, the show’s resident artists running amok and behaving like pussy-hounds on the Strip, and one artist who breaks up with his girlfriend because she parties too much. There is little to no tattooing, and the owners often discuss trying to expand the shop into a franchise, opening another in a Miami Harley dealership. Inked provides empty commentary on tattoos as art and instead revels in tattoos as capitalism. And so it goes.
It is rumored that Ami James and Chris Núñez have other TV projects on the table, but for now they are back to what they love and kick righteous-ass at doing: creating sick designs and tattooing … with the cameras off.
Miami Ink, RIP.