‘Ink Master’ EP on Season 12 & the Franchise’s Expansion With ‘Grudge Match’ (VIDEO)

Ink Master Season 12
Paramount Network

Paramount Network’s fan favorite series Ink Master is returning, but with a twist in its landmark 12th season.

This time around the competition is split up into two teams as the tattoo artists vie for the show’s top prize work within their own gender — that’s right, it’s Battle of the Sexes. Dave Navarro returns to host the popular series, which premieres Tuesday, June 11, and we have an exclusive sneak peek at the new season.

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Executive producer Glenda Hersh — who is also co-CEO and co-president of production company Truly Original — is also opening up about the expansion of the Ink Master franchise after the show’s two-season renewal and greenlighting of Ink Master: Grudge Match and keeping things fresh in the ink world. In the clip, meet the contestants of Season 12 as they get down to work on their first challenge.

Catch the segment and EP Glenda Hersh’s insights below, and don’t miss Ink Master when it returns this month on Paramount Network.

(Credit: Paramount Network)

Congratulations on the expansion of the Ink Master universe! Why do you think the franchise has resonated so much with viewers?

Glenda Hersh: I think there are a few major factors that continue to fuel its success. First, viewers are drawn to the game-play and strategy behind the competition. We’re always introducing new elements and surprises to keep competitors – as well as viewers – on their toes, and I think that’s a major reason the audience stays engaged from season to season.

In addition, this particular competition series happens to feature some of the most amazing artists in the country, who, in each episode, are creating new works of art from scratch – so the artistry plays a major role.

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Another massive ingredient is our talent. We have the perfect host in Dave Navarro, who, in addition to being well-known and beloved in the music world, is also a tattoo enthusiast and extremely knowledgeable on the art form. We’re also very fortunate to have respected artists like Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez joining Dave as our judges – adding another level of gravitas to the show.

Then, there are the competitors themselves. The tattoo community offers a seemingly endless supply of big, vibrant personalities, and viewers tune in each week to see these fascinating artists compete and interact with one another.

(Credit: Paramount Network)

And on top of it all, the stakes are quite high in each episode. Viewers are watching real people get real tattoos in the show’s challenges. Maybe they’ll be masterpieces… or maybe they’ll be disasters. Either way, the results are etched in ink and are relatively permanent.

The show got a two-season renewal. How do you continue to keep things fresh?

In producing this series, we’re so proud to have created this ever-evolving, never-stagnant beast that can continue to surprise viewers and competitors from season to season. The constant changes to the series’ creatives have become part of the show’s DNA, and we’re always thinking about new avenues and new ways to test and push competitors.

For instance, with every season we introduce a new theme. Season 10 was “Return of the Masters” (as three past winners returned to mentor different teams), last season was “Grudge Match” (welcoming back two fan-favorite rivals as coaches) and the upcoming Season 12 is “Battle of the Sexes” – featuring opposing teams of male and female artists. Of course, each new theme sets up an all-new dynamic and competition structure.

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At this point, when viewers tune in to a new season of Ink Master, they know they’re going to get the core ingredients they love – the game-play, the entertaining characters and more – but that there’s also a whole new bag of twists and surprises that awaits.

Why will fans of the original series want to tune in for the spinoff, Grudge Match?

One aspect of Ink Master that’s been so captivating for viewers is the passionate rivalries that’ve formed between different artists. A lot of times, these rivalries are spawned on the show and then continue to take shape and intensify outside of the series, in the world of social media, etc.

(Credit: Paramount Network)

With Ink Master: Grudge Match, we’re giving the artists behind these rivalries a second chance at settling the score. In some cases, years of dispute, contentious online interactions and debate serve as the backdrop for long-awaited meetings between fan-favorite artists who will be facing off and hoping to resolve things once and for all.

Are there any other long-running reality series whose success you’d like to match?

We want immortality! You think of certain competition staples like The Amazing Race and Survivor, but of course, we’d be happy to match the success of any competition show that has stood the test of time, managing to not only grow and diversify its audience, but also keep its viewers wholly engaged over the years.

This has been Ink Master’s trajectory throughout the past 11 seasons, and we’re looking forward to the franchise’s future.

Ink Master: Battle of the Sexes, Season 12 Premiere, Tuesday, June 11, 10/9c, Paramount Network