Whatever Happened To Tattoo Artist Ryan Ashley From Ink Master?

If you've ever walked into a tattoo shop, you've probably noticed that most of the artists are men. In fact, according to Zippia the Career Expert, men make up 75% of tattoo artists in the industry, while women only account for 25%. That's a huge discrepancy.

It's this lack of diversity in the tattoo world that's a contributing factor to why it took eight seasons of "Ink Master" before a woman won the $100,000 prize. That woman was Ryan Ashley, a talented tattoo artist who's quick to point out the differences in the field of tattooing for men and women. "[The industry] is not what it used to be in terms of discrimination or inequality," Ryan told Mic in 2016 ahead of her win. "But there are still things that we go through as women that the guys don't understand because they don't go through them ... We have to act a certain way, and all those expectations aren't always placed on guys. Who cares about what a guy tattooer looks like? Nobody gives a sh*t about that. But as a woman tattooer how we look and how we present ourselves is a factor in our quality of artwork for some reason, and that's where the inequality comes in."

Since winning "Ink Master," good things have come Ashley's way. Both professionally and personally, she has thrived and solidified herself as a force in the tattoo industry.

She became a judge on Ink Master

Shortly after claiming the title of Ink Master, Ryan Ashley joined "Ink Master: Angels" in which winners from the original series competed with tattoo artists across the United States. "With this structure, it allows artists from all walks of life to showcase themselves and their art on a national platform. We get to spotlight artists that don't get the recognition they deserve," Ashley told the Times Leader in 2017 about the show. "We're not just standing around and pointing fingers and judging. We're actually putting ourselves back in the ring and competing against artists as peers. It's really unexpected what happens all season long. It's really worth checking out and tuning in," she continued. 

Ashley also had a brief stint on "Ink Master: Grudge Match," a show she told Screen Rant in 2019 is "the next chapter in Ink Master." In 2022, she returned to be a judge for season 14 of the reality competition show that originally brought her recognition, and stuck around to judge season 15, too.

She got married and had a baby

In 2019, Ashley announced her marriage to fellow tattoo artist Arlo DiCristina on Instagram. According to the post's caption, the two had a very private and discrete wedding — just them — after DiCristina proposed with a "Roman looking solid marble ring that he hand carved from a block of marble." Before asking her followers to swipe through the photos, Ashley added, "I'm glad that THIS was just for US. Arlo, you are the light of my life. Thank you for making me remember the real ME that I have been missing for so long. I love you beyond these physical bodies, and I am so happy we found each other in this life."

In May 2020, Ashley and DiCristina became parents to a baby boy whom they named Atheus. A month before the birth, Ashley posed for Inked Magazine and shared the baby news. "Pregnancy has taught me that the value I placed on so many things was materialistic, momentary and surface level, therefore, fragile," Ashley wrote for the magazine. "It's been a brutal awakening learning what's most important, but it has been a gift from the universe, for the hardest lessons are the most important to learn."

She co-owns a tattoo studio

In 2017, Arlo DiCristina bought a former church in Grand Junction, Colorado intending to turn it into a tattoo studio. When he got together with Ashley, they brought the studio to life. "My husband Arlo and I have been spending the last probably five years renovating and restoring this 100-year-old church," Ashley told The Daily Sentinel in 2023. "Now it's become this epicenter, almost, of the tattoo world where we're in the middle of [...] nowhere in Grand Junction, but because of the show we had nine guest artists over the summer."

On top of hosting resident artists and a revolving cast of guest tattooists, Elysium Studios also offers free tattoo removal for racist, hateful, or gang-affiliated tattoos. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Community Health noted how removing these tattoos is an important step in people cutting ties with their past, securing employment, and building healthier relationships. It's a life-changing gift for people looking to start a new chapter.

Ashley plans to expand the studios to become a place where all artists can thrive in a safe space. "We always say, 'If all of these eyes are looking at us, what are we going to do with the influence?' So, we're trying to focus on making Elysium an art hub. We're trying to focus on education and seminars. We're trying to raise the bar of tattooing and bring it to the next level of being a respected fine art," said Ashley.