Viacom Employee Lottery Winner Michele Graczyk Attends Spike’s Ink Master Live: Here’s What Went Down

Spike’s hit series, Ink Masters, is the ultimate test of endurance, creativity, and talent. Each week, tattoo artists compete to win $100,000 and the coveted crown of Ink Master. They’re challenged to deviate from their traditional style, tattooing live on brave volunteers otherwise known as “human canvasses.”  The season culminates with a sensational finale that includes a grueling 24-hour tattoo session, live voting via Twitter, and plenty of audience commentary.

Viacom’s employee lottery series brought tattoo enthusiast and longtime Ink Master fan Michele Graczyk to the season eight finale on Tuesday, Dec. 6. She watched as Ryan Ashley Malarkey became the first female Ink Master in Spike history.


Michele Graczyk attended Spike’s Ink Master live finale. Photo courtesy of Graczyk.

Read our interview with Graczyk below.

Describe your department and role at Viacom.

I’m a Project Coordinator with Nickelodeon’s Advertising Project Management team.

Are you an Ink Master fan?

Yes. I loved Kelly Doty’s tattoos because of how bright and vibrant they all were. The little details she puts into each piece are amazing and you almost have to remind yourself that it’s a tattoo and not a painting or graphic design.

Do you have any tattoos?

I do! I have eight tattoos and plan on adding more.

That’s so cool. Can you describe them for us?

Sure. I have a Jurassic Park tattoo on my right shoulder that features a Raptor, Pterodactyl, and Triceratops with the quote, “Dinosaur eats man, woman inherits the earth.”


Graczyk at Spike’s Ink Master Live finale on Dec. 6, 2016. Photo courtesy of Graczyk.

I also have a Nimbus 2000 [from Harry Potter] on the outside of my left arm, a black T-Rex skull on my left forearm, the little blue worm from Labyrinth in a heart on my right calf, a Dr. Seuss quote on my right forearm, a Friday the 13th pizza tattoo on my left upper arm, and a version of the Jurassic Park logo on my left thigh with a mosquito that says, “But life finds a way.” On my right wrist, I have the word “love” and a peace sign.

These are such fascinating tattoos. You must have been thrilled to win this contest. Tell me a little bit about that experience. Where were you when you found out you had won? Who did you tell first?

I was at work when I found out. I called my friend Kristina Almonte right away, because I knew she would be so excited about going. We’ve locked ourselves inside to watch marathons of previous seasons, and it felt like our Ink Master binge came full circle by attending the finale.

What was Almonte’s reaction when you told her about this unbelievable opportunity?

Immediately, she started yelling over the phone, “Oh my gosh! Yes! Let’s go!” She didn’t even need to hear the details.

Walk us through the experience the night of finale. Did anything exciting happen behind the scenes? Who did you want to win?

It was really exciting to feel the energy of the room. As soon as the judges were about to make a decision you could feel everyone’s collective anticipation. After seeing the 24-hour tattoos, I wanted Ryan to win. Her piece was the opposite of her preferred style, and it still looked amazing.

Can you explain what her signature style is usually like?

Ryan typically tattoos with black and gray ink, using fine lines and a lot of detail with various shading techniques.

The 24-hour tattoo Ryan had to give was a colorful, bold, and detailed 90s-inspired chest piece. She chose to create a tattoo consisting of two hot-rod chrome cars with a giant flaming skull in the center.

What was the main challenge for the contestants the night of the finale?

They had to give a seven-hour tattoo live on stage in a style chosen by the opposing team. We watched the last two hours of this challenge.

Viewers on Twitter voted for one finalist—Ryan, and the judges chose the second—Gian. But Kelly had a lot of support from fans in the live audience, who kept cheering for her. Both Ryan and Gian delivered fantastic tattoos as well, so there was a lot of passion from the crowd.

When Ryan Ashley Malarkey was announced as the winner, how did you react?

I was so happy she won! Her tattoos looked great and she’s a talented artist. And it’s about time there’s a female Ink Master!

What was your overall takeaway from this experience?

Overall it was a great opportunity, and it sparked my desire to get inked again soon.


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