While Josh Payne has been traveling to tattoo expos around the country and meeting with fans and other tattoo artists for almost a year, he has also been trying to stay out of the spotlight — created when he won the title of Ink Master last April.
Payne said the recognition he has received since winning reality show “Ink Master” season 10 last year has turned him into a “mini celebrity.”
“It’s strange,” he said Thursday. But it’s also rad, especially when he meets his younger fans.
“We’re in a little hole-in-the-wall town here,” Payne said. If kids work hard and want something, they can achieve it, he added.
Since winning the show, new opportunities have presented themselves to Payne; he’s started considering what’s next for his career; and he’s even been able to help his family out.
Payne, a Cortland tattoo artist, quickly gained small-town and national recognition after besting 24 other contestants to win the title of “Ink Master.” Payne, a tattoo artist at Alchemist Art Studio, went head-to-head against fellow artists from across the nation.
Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer
Close up of a sea beast Cortland tattoo artisit Josh Payne worked on Thursday afternoon. The creature was drawn freehand onto E.J. Morales’ forearm before Payne began tattooing.By winning on the Paramount Network show, Payne, who has been tattooing for 15 years, received $100,000, a feature article in Ink Magazine and the title of Ink Master.
Payne, 31, is originally from Newark Valley in Tioga County.
Other opportunities have presented themselves as well for Payne. He left Ascend Gallery at 15 Central Ave., to begin working with fellow Ink Master alum Thom Bulman, of season 9, at Alchemist Art Studio in the Beach House Mall on Main Street.
Payne said the move was good as he now gets to work with someone who also went through the show, but is also inspiring. Walking into the studio is like walking into “nerd heaven,” Payne said.
Pop culture items hang from the walls, sit on shelves and are even subject of different paintings and drawings.
While Payne couldn’t talk much about them, he has had a number of opportunities present themselves from winning “Ink Master.”
He’s also been able to raise continued awareness for a syndrome that hit close to home.
While away filming for “Ink Master” last year, Payne became an uncle. His niece, Lucy, was born with Pfeiffer syndrome, a birth defect in which the bones in the skull join together too early, he has said.
Through outreach from the show and his work, Payne helped raise money to help his family, something he said might not have been possible without the opportunity the show created.
“We’ve raised so much awareness for an illness many never heard of,” he said.
One thing, however, that Payne likes is the quick congratulations he’s received. All the recognition was quick and has since been brushed under the rug, Payne said.
But that’s OK, Payne didn’t want the spotlight or fame from the show. He just wanted to try something new.
“It was an opportunity to do something weird,” he said. “Now I just want to go back to being me.”
The fame comes with its own curse, Payne said. “I don’t have a private life anymore,” he said.
However, Payne said he knew what he was getting into when he signed on.
Payne said he has taken a year to breath and remain out of the spot light. Now he wants to set platforms, reach out and work on branding an image as big as possible.
“There is no retirement, no 401K,” he said about tattooing.
As long as he can wake up each day and tattoo without worrying about making a dollar, then that’s the American dream, Payne said.
For now, however, it’s about tattooing. Payne said one thing that he finds cool about the job is that all of his works have a shelf life — someday they’ll be buried in the ground and gone.
“Tattooing is my art, my medium,” Payne said. “It’s what makes sense to me.”