Ryan Ashley Malarkey is an American tattoo artist known for her appearances on the television shows Ink Master and its spin-offs. Her signature style reflects her training and experience as a fashion designer: Malarkey specializes in black-and-gray designs with beadwork, lace detail, and ornamental jewels.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey won Ink Master’s season eight competition in 2016 and in the following three years, hosted two seasons of a spin-off show (Angels) and served as a judge in another spin-off (Grudge Match). Malarkey also owns two oddities and antique shops in Pennsylvania.
Ryan Ashley Early life and career
Ryan Ashley Malarkey was raised in Dallas, a small borough in northeast Pennsylvania. Her single mother worked at a fast-food restaurant while taking night school in accounting. Malarkey’s mother, who was also an artist, taught her how to draw.
Ryan Ashley graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2007 and spent five years as a fashion designer in New York City at a private label, where she designed beadwork, lace details, embroidery, and appliqués for garments. Her intricate tattoo style would later reflect these themes.
Seeking a career outside of a traditional office environment, Malarkey returned to Pennsylvania to apprentice as a tattoo artist. Her experience working at a street shop (a tattoo parlor that takes walk-in requests) convinced her to only work by appointment.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey and her companion opened a shop in Kingston, Pennsylvania, in 2013, The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey tattooed from the back of the shop while the front featured their collection of taxidermy, objects, and restored antiques for sale.
The latter had been a hobby from her youth when she had attended yard and estate sales with her mother and grandmother. The couple opened a second shop in Philadelphia with taxidermist business partners.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey’s signature black-and-gray tattoo designs feature beadwork, lace detail, and ornamental jewels. When designing filigree, she references Victorian furniture scrollwork.
Ryan Ashley references bridal accessories and chandeliers for her beading designs and old illustrated wildlife books for animal and bird designs. Her clients have included rock musicians Maria Brink and Ash Costello.
Ryan Ashley At Ink Master
In late 2016, Malarkey appeared on Ink Master, a reality competition television series in which tattoo artists participate in artistic challenges to outlast other competitors and receive the season’s title and a monetary prize.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey was the eighth season’s champion, the first woman to win the title, and as of August 2019, the only female champion in its first eleven seasons.
Mic noted the occasion as a moment for female tattoo artists, who are subject to social stigmas in a male-dominated profession. Under Malarkey, the women on the show formed an alliance to outlast their competitors.
The show’s executive producer said it was the first time such an alliance had held throughout the season. With only five years of tattoo experience, Malarkey won the title as a relative newcomer.
Ryan Ashley entered the show to develop new areas of tattooing expertise and test herself. Malarkey had been approached to participate in previous seasons of the show but declined for scheduling conflicts.
Ryan Ashley Malarkey is featured in the two seasons of Ink Master: Angels, a spin-off from Ink Master in which Malarkey and two co-competitors from the main series’ eighth season traveled across the United States to face off against local tattoo artists. Winners received spots in the next season of Ink Master. The show appeared on Paramount Network in 2017 and 2018.
Angels were originally planned as a one-hour special with the same premise but expanded into a full-season spin-off. Malarkey later served as a judge in another spin-off, Ink Master: Grudge Match (2019). Malarkey returned to New York City in 2018. As of 2019, she lives and works in Grand Junction, Colorado.