The Best Ink queen has been crowned! After 10 weeks of creating colorful, baller tattoos from sexy pirates to fibromyalgia spoons, Teresa has won the second season of Best Ink. She even managed to beat out the far more seasoned tattooer DJ after head-to-head competition for the whole season. Read Teresa's extensive winner's interview, and scroll down to flip through candid photos of her life outside of the show...including candids with her much-talked-about son, Brandon! Congratulations Teresa! You're kind of a big deal!
CONGRATS ON THE WIN! How did it feel when the judges announced your name?
Relief, excitement, pride, elation…all these things and more. I thought a lot about my family when I won. Not just Chris and Brandon, but my father who never knew I became a tattoo artist, my mother who had been unable to be a part of my life, and my siblings who have watched me work so hard to be an artist, and I thought it was a moment where, despite all we’ve been through, all of them would be proud. It was a very good feeling and a moment I will never forget.
Were you surprised, or did you know you’d win from day 1?
I’m never one to assume, so I went into this show expecting there would be a fair amount of strong competition, and I was not disappointed. If it was just a matter of just doing a good tattoo well that would be one thing, however, this competition is asking for the best. Not just a good tattoo, but a show-stopper. And guess what, you have to do that under a time constraint with little time to prepare, knowing the whole time that a small mistake could send you packing. I was definitely surprised to walk away with the win, DJ and I were neck and neck the whole way it seemed. However, while I might not have always been confident in the win, I was confident in my work, and I am really proud of the tattoos I was able to accomplish in such a stressful atmosphere.
What are you planning to do with the prize money?
You know….I never really had a set in stone plan for the money. I will probably put a fair amount aside just for financial security and also to help send my brother Brandon to college with. For what I don’t put away I hope to use towards travel. One of the reasons I love tattooing so much is that I can pretty much tattoo anywhere and I absolutely love traveling. Im hoping, with these added funds, that I can start bringing my family with me. I would love to share the amazing experiences tattooing has given me with my boyfriend and kid. Im sure a small portion will go to furthering my art and setting up future art shows, tattoo projects, and new supplies/electronics for my studio at home. Also…well I’ve been dying to put a hot tub in my screened-in porch!!!
You’ve mentioned in the show being the sole provider for your family. Has that situation changed, are you struggling a lot less now that you’ve been on the show?
Currently I am still the sole provider for my family. My boyfriend attends school and watches the kid, he will hopefully graduate next fall. My sister also lives with me, a college student as well, she helps out around the house but I don’t ask for rent, she's my little sis! As for the struggle, well Im definitely not lacking in emails requesting my services as a tattoo artist! The exposure from the show makes it a struggle to answer emails. Luckily my boss/manager at Studio 13 in Ft Wayne helps me manage this. I feel like the exposure from the show has set me up to do more projects that interest me personally and I look forward to these new challenges. Life never really slows down for me, im not sure what I would do with myself if it did. Suffice it to say I like being busy, and while I will struggle less to stay booked at the shop Im sure I will find other ways to overburden myself with bigger more intense projects!
You and DJ were referred to as “the two headed dragon” of the competition. Did you feel like you were in direct competition with DJ the whole time?
From the first challenge to the last I always made it my goal to do a better tattoo than DJ. He really did feel like my biggest competition. He has years of tattoo experience on me and a ton of tricks up his sleeves, I had to hope my years of dedication to art and my fine art background would tip the scales in my favor. This contributed to my surprise at the end when I was announced the winner. We both had our ups and downs on the show so when it got down to the last few challenges it just really felt like it was anyone's game! Honestly, it was awesome competing with DJ. He has so much passion for his art and it really shows in each tattoo/painting he does. I really admire him and his determination to keep pushing himself further and I hope to tattoo around him in the future even if its just a guest spot.
Which tattoo were you most proud of this season?
I might get in trouble if I don’t say it was my boyfriend's…but honestly his was definitely one of my top 3. I also enjoyed tattooing Lola. The wolf and pirate lady tattoos were so much fun! However, I also really enjoyed the spoon tattoo! Ugh! Sooooo hard to choose! I guess for the amount of time I had not only to tattoo but to prepare for the tattoo I think Chris’s (my boyfriends) tattoo was my greatest accomplishment. I mean its damn near a half sleeve, I freehanded it on him, I did it in five hours, and it healed wonderfully!
What did you learn from being on the show?
I learned a fair amount about just how creative I can be under pressure and time constraints. The flash challenges gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to create quickly, on the fly, with limited supplies. The tattoo challenges taught me how methodical and precise I can be under pressure, and how much tattoo I can do in five hours!!! I learned I work well under pressure and I am not easily intimidated. I also learned I don’t have it in me to be cutthroat and I always want the best man to win. There were definitely some challenges that DJ and Jerod won fair and square and I never envied them those wins. I made it clear to many of my fellow competitors that I didn’t want to get sent home on a technicality, but also that I didn’t want to win on one either. However, I don’t think im the only one that felt that way. Many of the other competitors felt the same way.
What have you been doing since the show?
I have been SUPER busy! Haha! Once we were done filming I went home and tattooed at my shop for a couple months before heading out on tour with Kelly Doty and Jesso Lange. We traveled the country tattooing at different shops and tattoo conventions for a total of two months. Some of the shops and conventions we visited include Kaze Gallery, Art Junkies, Tattoo City, Ink and Dagger, Hell City tattoo convention, Ghost Print Gallery, and of course Hope Gallery where Joe Capobianco runs the show!
We started at my shop, headed west, and basically circled the country from there! It was basically a reenactment of the tour Kelly and I went on a year prior called “the fashionably late tour” but this year we brought a third party, the amazing tattoo artist Jesso. Surprisingly she didn’t want to strangle us at the end! Once I returned from tour I had a short break before heading to England for the Liverpool tattoo convention. When Im not traveling I have been trying to spend quality time with the family while catching up with my local clientele and trying to wade through the emails for my future clients. Also, I have a collaborative Art show coming soon with Kelly Doty. We will be unveiling it at Hell City Phoenix. The show is titled Unkindness, much like the tour we just finished up with. #unkindnessart for those of you on instagram.
Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow contestants?
Absolutely. I keep in touch with DJ, Jerod, Brittany, and Tylor on the regular…although Tylor works in Chicago only a few hours from me…so really I don’t think he would let me avoid it! Hahaha. I try to stay up on everyone from the show. This is definitely an experience I will never forget, and not one that many others can relate to. I also try to keep in touch with Hannah and Joe, since the show they have been very supportive of my work and I still ask Joe for the occasional critique to keep me up on my game! Although it's weird not having Pete there to let me know when to get the ink flowing and the needles going…or something like that!…maybe I can get him to text me before I head to work!
What’s in your tattooing future?
For the immediate future I'm really looking forward to starting larger more involved tattoos. I really enjoy tattooing full sleeves and back pieces. I hope to use the exposure from the show to build a clientele that wants larger tattoos and that are also willing to give me a lot of artistic freedom. I will also continue traveling and tattooing across the country. I am already lined up to tattoo at the Virginia Beach Tattoo Festival, Hell City Phoenix in August, and the Paradise tattoo gathering in September. At this point I am not currently planning any extended tours but check my website often for any travel news.
So many people say they want to get a Teresa tattoo after seeing you on the show. How can they book an appointment – and does it have to be 20 years in advance at this point?
I hope im never booking out 20 years in advance!!! That’s way to much pressure! Hahaa… The e-mails have definitely been overwhelming. I am truly honored to receive so much support from the Best Ink fanbase, unfortunately I can only tattoo so many people. As I sift through the e-mails I am definitely looking for unique fun ideas and a lot of artistic freedom. For those looking to book an appt with me, I suggest reading the FAQ section of my website www.teresasharpeart.com and when you submit your idea please include as much information as possible about what you want to get tattooed. Also, please remember to be patient and if you feel you were overlooked or worried you might have been filtered into the spam folder feel free to resubmit. I am currently scheduling for late fall.
Hear more from Teresa on her win in this video:
Stay tuned for the premiere date of 'Best Ink 3'!