Watching the Star Wars trilogy was one of the defining moments in my childhood. Up until that point, I had been raised in a strict, religious household: no TV, no secular friends. I identified with Luke — no control over his life, wanting to escape, trying to make a difference in the world (or universe). With Star Wars, I became caught up in the music, the imagery, in the possibility of other worlds and space! I fell in love with all the characters and their struggle against the Empire, and even when all hope seemed lost, they kept going and kept fighting. I learned that for the underdog, if they have enough heart, they can overcome the biggest obstacles life can throw at them. “Size matters not” was one of my favorite quotes. Star Wars opened the floodgates into the fantasy universe for me, and opened a world of possibility. My mind was blown!
I have done Star Wars tattoos before — more than once, actually. I think everyone identifies in some way with the Star Wars universe, and you would never guess how many people want to put the iconic images permanently in their skin. My favorite Star Wars tattoo to date has been the Darth Maul portrait I tattooed. On my wish list of tattoos I want to do is Obi-Wan in the speeder in Episode IV, when he’s talking to the Stormtroopers: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for!”
When I first saw the Stormtrooper unit walk out onto the boardwalk in our Ink Master “Star Wars Forever” episode, I felt a thrill run through me. I am probably one of the most geeky of all the contestants here (though, I think Clint might give me a run for my money) and I recognized the 501st instantly! I knew right then it was going to be an amazing challenge, and images started flashing through my head before we even heard what we had to do. We were then told the object of the challenge: to paint trooper helmets! At this point I didn’t think I could contain my enthusiasm.
The last time I used enamel paints was when I painted my models, and as you all know, that’s more straight lines and solid fields of color. I decided to use it like oil paints to create a scene. There were some important things and iconic images that I loved from the original trilogy that I wanted to include: the jump to hyperspace, the Death Star, maybe some TIE fighters… and, of course, something with lightsabers! As I was painting, there were things that just weren’t happening. I worked around the paint drying too fast, the heat. As everything came together, I decided to make a hole in the helmet, giving a glimpse of the inside to show the internal struggles between good and evil.
It may not be a literal translation of the elements in the movies, but you can feel everything I wanted the viewer to take away from my design. The feeling behind the movies is the most important thing to me, and as they called time on the challenge, I was satisfied.
Spike TV’s special “Star Wars Forever” episode of Ink Master premieres on Tuesday, November 13 at 10 p.m., ET/PT. For a sneak peek at the episode, check out inkmaster.spike.com.