This was posted on Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Monday, October 17, 2016
Jason Lawyer is a man saddled with the last name of a profession he never had any intention to enter.
But the Senoia resident sure liked to doodle growing up. So a few years ago, as he was developing his tattoo business, he decided to combine one of his greatest skills - sketching - with that memorable last name. The result: "Sketchy Lawyer."
Given that attorneys are not always considered the most ethical, that name resonated. It's what he uses on the current season of Spike TV's "Ink Master" instead of his given name Jason.
"I wanted something catchy," Lawyer said.
The only downside: "People always ask me, 'Man! Did you drop out of law school to become an artist?' No way. If I was good at school, who knows what I would have done. I dropped out of school in ninth grade. I wasn't going to be a rocket scientist!"
Lawyer, a native of Virginia Beach, has made the top 10 so far season eight, outlasting eight other artists. He is part of Team Nunez and has been a consistent, solid performer. He has never been at the bottom. Then again, he has not won a single challenge.
If he starts doing even better as the finish line approaches and begins winning challenges, that momentum could totally work in his favor in the eyes of the judges. "I'm really stoked by how things are going at this point," he said.
The grind, he said, is real. "It's definitely an endurance thing," he said. "You have to stay positive, stay inspired, not let the game get in your head."
Sketchy has been increasingly annoyed by a women's alliance during a season where the female tattoo artists are especially fierce.
"I have worked around females and I've never seen so many women be so proud to be women!" he said.
Craig Foster of Carrollton, who competed on the show twice and almost made the finals season six, said he can see Sketchy's patience wane in the house. Foster gets it, having experienced it twice. "The frustrations of little things can catch up to you," he said.
But so far, Sketchy's been able to focus on each challenge without major issues. "He hasn't had any rough days yet," Foster said. "It'll be interesting to see how handles it when he has a rough day. The show has that ability to find those weak points eventually. You'll get a weird pitch and you won't hit a home run."
Sketchy said he has always been able to focus on the ink, no matter what's going on in his life. "When I'm doing art," he said, "I don't think of anything but what I'm doing. I can get lost in that. It's an escape from reality."
Foster has been deeply impressed with Kelly Doty, who managed to get past a few rough early patches to become a front runner. He thinks Kelly, Sketchy, Gian Karle Cruz and Ryan Ashley Malarkey are best positioned at this point to make it to the finals.
Sketchy moved from Virginia Beach (where he did some apprentice work) to Newnan in 2007 to be near his dad, who died soon after of cancer. Following a short stint at a tattoo shop in Stockbridge, he spent three-plus years at a shop in Peachtree City.
Around 2010, he had become friends with country rock star Zac Brown, who he has inked several times. Brown was opening a bar Southern Ground Social Club (now closed). When Sketchy said he wanted to open his own tattoo parlor, Brown suggested he take some space in the back of his place in Senoia.
Soon after, Sketchy opened his own stand-alone shop in Senoia called Cornerstone Tattoo Gallery.
At the time, "The Walking Dead" phenomenon was taking hold, with Senoia used as Woodbury season three. He said a lot of crew members and makeup artists come into his shop to get ink. And one of his fellow artists Clint did a tattoo for an actress whose character's leg was chopped off: "They wanted a tattoo on her ankle so you could distinguish her leg." They've also designed weapons for the show, which returns for season seven on Sunday.
Stylistically, Sketchy said he prefers strong lines over shading because it won't fade as quickly "You build a house with studs. You want the framework to be solid," he said. "You want it told its color."
And he describes his work as more illustrative, not as cartoonish. "I try to stay true to proportions," he said.
"Ink Master," season 8, airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on Spike