Nearly three months after claiming the runner-up spot on “Ink Master,” Sarah Miller has not slowed down.
“This is a whole new normal,” she said. “It’s nuts. Our shop’s been kicking, too. We’ve been getting walk-ins left and right.”
Miller, a tattoo artist and owner of Wyld Chyld Tattoo on Brookline Boulevard, was a contestant in the second season of Spike TV’s reality show featuring tattoo competitions.
The title of Ink Master ultimately went to artist Steve Tefft of Groton, Conn., who won $100,000 and a feature in Inked Magazine, but Miller said she’s just fine with second place.
Although she initially didn’t give much thought to being on the show, Miller said the experience challenged her and made her a better artist.
“I knew it would be grueling and tough and would push my limits,” she said. “In that respect, I’ve definitely gotten more in touch with myself, what I can do and how I perform under pressure.”
When the show ended, Miller joined the convention circuit. In addition to running the Brookline Boulevard shop—she attributed her success there to the shop’s group of talented artists and co-workers—she’s been featured in the Ink Life and Baltimore Tattoo conventions, among others.
She’s made stops in Florida, Texas, Chicago, California and even Germany.
It’s humbling and rewarding to have people seeking out her and the Wyld Chyld Shop, she said, especially after the challenges of a reality television competition.
Miller was often the subject of tough criticism on the show, from the other artists as well as viewers, who chided her for her intense reactions, and her show of unrelenting passion for her work.
“The public feedback was hardest to deal with at first,” she said. “When you look at yourself, you don’t necessarily see yourself as other people see you. For people to gather my entire character based on a couple minutes of a meltdown I may have had because of stress or lack of sleep … the situation on the show was really difficult and I think anyone in those circumstances would snap at least once.”
What viewers also didn’t see, she said, were the difficulties the competitors dealt with in their personal lives, which often added stress to an already grueling schedule.
Miller herself was dealing with the loss of a close friend, who died of an illness while “Ink Master” was filming in New York during the summer of 2012.
It was hard not to break down, she said, but tattoos are like therapy for her. Miller used her skill to help her friend’s family by holding a benefit at Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, she said, her fellow competitors were generally supportive of each other.
“More than anything, people were supportive as opposed to back-biting,” she said. “We’re only competing to win the final prize. We can look at each others’ work and pick a winner and a loser between ourselves. Nine times out of 10 we’ve picked the loser correctly, but it’s a lot harder to pick the winner.”
Miller said she has stayed in touch with many of the show’s artists, and plans to work with some of them again at future events.
In the meantime, she said, she hopes the business Wyld Chyld has picked up will extend to the rest of the Boulevard.
“I really do just hope the success on the show has helped whole community,” she said. “I really want the community to take off. I really want everyone to share in this success, and the more successful I am, that’s a bigger draw for the Boulevard.”