Illustration Alum Shane O'Neill Named Spike TV's 'Ink Master'

Tattoo artist wins $100,000 prize on reality TV competition

Shane O'Neill's finale-winning tattoo.

March 8, 2012

Shane O'Neill '94 (Illustration) has been crowned the winner of Spike TV's "Ink Master" tattoo competition. The 39-year-old defeated nine other elite tattoo artists to win $100,000 and a profile in Inked magazine on the final episode of the show's first season, which aired March 6. More than 1.5 million people watched O'Neill take the title on the show, hosted by Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.

O'Neill is the owner of Infamous Tattoo Co., with locations in Suburban Philadelphia and in Delaware. He told The Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer that he had a feeling all season that he would win. "I was winning the most challenges. At the very end, I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't expecting it either," O'Neill said.

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Known for realism, he says he creates "a lot of portraits of family members, pets, reproducing old masters' paintings, sculptures. . . . Everything I do is technically hard. But nothing has ever stumped me."

After attending the University of the Arts, he went to work as an illustrator. A few years later, his brother and a couple of friends asked him to give them tattoos. "I was good at anything artistic, so they assumed I would be able to pick up the tool and be good at it," he says. "It's a really bad assumption, but it worked out."

He also says that before "Ink Master," he was booked for months with tattoo customers, but that since he appeared on the show, "The amount of people who want appointments has gone through the roof."

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