Reality television favors the unconventional — particularly a show like Spike TV’s Ink Master, in which tattoo artists compete for the eponymous title through a series of bizarre challenges involving anything from bacon to corpses.
The show’s second season starts Oct. 9, and among the contestants is Pittsburgh’s Sarah Miller. At 27, Miller is owner and managing partner at a tattoo parlor and one of only three women on the show.
- Sarah Miller. Photo courtesy of Spike TV.
“I don’t think I fit in with the average tattoo artist,” Miller says, “I’m atypical. I don’t have a lot of tattoos and most of them are hidden under my clothes to respect my grandmother.”
Indeed, her Brookline parlor, Wyld Chyld Tattoo Pittsburgh
, is far from intimidating. When I visit, Miller is tattooing Joy, a hairdresser from Bellevue, with an elaborate Disney princess she’s been working on since April. Parlor chat ranges from kittens to women’s rights.
“I think a lot of women are more comfortable being tattooed by another woman,” Miller tells me. “But it’s not just that; it’s are they a good person and a good artist?” The personable Miller is both of these by her clients’ regard, as Joy confesses: “I don’t need to see what design Sarah’s putting on me. I just know it will be great.”
Miller is never more enthusiastic than when she talks about her work.
“I want them to tell a story,” she says of her designs. “I consider tattoos to be a medium on the next level from oil painting or murals. It’s on somebody who’s going to be interacting with many other people. And as they all have a personal significance they’ll talk about it and show it off and more people will appreciate it than if it’s a painting hanging on someone’s wall.”
Miller left her job in graphic design to pursue these more permanent paintings. “I want to have a lasting impact on the world and I didn’t think anyone was going to remember my amazingly designed grocery-store circulars.”
It was a leap of faith that’s culminated this year with opening Wyld Chyld and competing to be named Ink Master, or Ink Mistress, by rock star Dave Navarro. “It was definitely life-changing,” she says of the television show. Miller can’t hide her passion for tattooing as well as she hides her own tattoos.
The season premiere of Ink Master
airs on Spike TV, at 10 p.m. Tue., Oct 9. (The show's episodes have all been shot except for the live finale.)
Miller will hold a screening of the premier in Wyld Chyld. The business is located at 742 Brookline Blvd., Brookline. The event starts at 8 p.m., with beverage and food offers from Brookline Pub.