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Artist on West team as reality show takes on turf wars theme; it starts Jan. 7 on the Paramount Network

COURTESY PHOTO: PARAMOUNT NETWORK - Portland's Bob Jones says he's happy to be on Paramount Network's 'Ink Master,' and talking with and learning from other tattoo artists. 'Ink Master' premieres Jan. 7.A Portland tattoo artist for about 10 years, Bob Jones really enjoyed his time on the reality series "Ink Master," which airs starting 10 p.m. Jan. 7 on the Paramount Network.

"It's something I could plan for and not know what to expect," said Jones, 29, who works at Esoteric Tattoo in North Portland. "It was pretty stressful but I had a lot of fun. I met a lot of cool artists, and it was a really great opportunity to be part of.

"I liked being around other artists who share similar appreciation with the medium that we do our art in. It's really cool to be able to talk to them and learn from them. With the theme being turf wars, everybody comes from around the nation, and are influenced by art and the area they live in. I really did enjoy coming together with other artists and learning from them."

The 13th season of the show is themed "Ink Master: Turf War," as contestants from the four different regions of the country represent their turf — West, Midwest, East, South. Jones, obviously, is part of the West team.

Last year, Austin Rose of Robot Piercing and Tattoo participated in the show, and he advanced in some rounds.

Working as a tattoo artist is not unlike a writer, photographer, painter, musician, etc., Jones said.

"I definitely always wanted to get better, and I still do," he said. "When you start, you're never very good — friends might say you're talented and gifted, but when you start doing it you always see somebody better. There's always a quest to improve. You want to make it not only easier for me to do a tattoo but learn about what makes a good tattoo, what makes a good piece of art."

Jones, who moved from Minnesota to Portland as a child, has a biomech and color illustrative style, which he describes as not actually a picture of something or an object that you see or imagine, but it's about patterns, like taking the human body and making it into something that it could possibly be — something quite alien or into realms of steampunk or robot and make an arm or chest (tattoo) as part of it.

"It's a broad art style," he said. "It's a very open form of art; it's not like there are specific color sets or rules. It's organic in nature, but mechanical and man-made (images). It incorporates realism as well as illustration."

Clients often ask him about making specific tattoos, but they also allow him to be creative.

"People come to me and have an idea, and I create an idea into a piece of art," Jones said. "I draw up things in my free time and come up with ideas, and there are people who say they like it and, 'Let's do something.'"

Producers of "Ink Master" reached out to Jones to participate in the show. He had an interview and "I didn't even think it would amount to anything. They probably had hundreds and thousands of artists who applied and were waiting for a call back. I got a call back, and it seemed like an exciting opportunity."

Friends have asked him about the show, but as with all reality shows, he can't divulge results.

"I'm very excited for what I went through, the experience that I had," Jones said. "I can't wait to see how I'm depicted after all the editing."

Dave Navarro, the musician from Jane's Addiction, serves as host for "Ink Master," and Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck are the judges.

To follow Jones and the show, see paramountnetwork.com/shows/ink-master. The winner receives $100,000 and an editorial feature in Inked magazine.


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