Tattoo artist from North Side will return on 'Ink Master'
Craig Ruch lies on the table of Wyld Chyld Tattoo, a Brookline parlor, while artist Sarah Miller painstakingly uses a handheld tattoo machine to sculpt a colorful image of King of the Dead from “Lord of the Rings” on Ruch's arm.
It is the eighth session for Ruch in a series of “Lord of the Rings”-themed tattoo appointments that will take more than 50 hours total. He traveled across the state — from North Wales, near Philadelphia — to get Miller's tattoo expertise.
After seeing her take second place in the second season of Spike TV's reality competition “Ink Master,” Ruch became a fan and had to have her as his tattoo artist.
“One woman said, ‘My God, those are works of art,'” says Ruch, 50. “The number of compliments I get every day is amazing.”
Miller's fans get to see her again on the seventh season of “Ink Master,” which has a new twist. The new season — dubbed “Ink Master: Revenge” and debuting March 1 — features eight new contestants, plus eight returning veterans, including Miller. Every time someone gets eliminated, a veteran comes on to replace the contestant. They all compete against each other, and the competition this season seems much more intense than Miller's first time around, she says.
“Everybody wants to win,” says Miller, 30, of the North Side. She and her fellow contestants individually create a new tattoo in each episode.
For Miller, returning to the show — filmed last year in Newark, N.J. — felt a bit like coming home.
“It's almost like I never left,” Miller says, as she works in her office surrounded by ink bottles and “Star Wars” and cartoon memorabilia. “I was in the same bed.”
Miller felt encouraged to take the producers up on their offer to return to “Ink Master” after a rough year that included a split from her fiance.
“I felt like I was ... losing myself a little bit,” says Miller, who thought, “Well, if I go back on the show, maybe I'll be able to find myself again.”
Miller has been busy since her initial “Ink Master” experience and has earned more than 150 awards. She also regularly travels for tattoo conventions inside and outside of the United States.
Now, Miller even has her own line of tattoo ink — the Valhalla Portrait Set, with bright colors inspired by her love for Norse mythology. World Famous Tattoo Ink manufactures Miller's color line.
Her fame has attracted many “Ink Master” fans such as Ruch, who come from long distances — some from as far away as England — to get a Miller tattoo.
She generally has a waiting list up to 10 months long, with more than 300 clients waiting their turns.
“It's a huge honor,” she says. “I'm excited and I'm humbled at the same time.
“One of the things I love about tattooing is, I touch people's lives,” says Miller, a native of Orange County, N.Y.
Artists never arrive at a success destination, she says. They always can learn more and get better at their work.
“I think it's about how you apply yourself to your craft,” Miller says. “For me, I'm not one to rest on my laurels.”
Competing against the best of the best on the Spike show gave Miller a humbling experience.
“‘Ink Master' really made me realize — you have to be humble,” she says. “All you can do is do your best in the moment, with the situation and project you've been given.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.