Former Brentwood tattooist inks TV spot

Photo courtesy of Paramount Network

Raul Ugarte, former owner of Brentwood’s Calculated Punkture, will compete as part of the “West” team in this season’s “Ink Master” Turf War.

Tattoo artist Raul Ugarte — former owner of Brentwood shop Calculated Punkture — is taking his talents to the next level this year.

Ugarte, who has now moved to El Dorado Hills and tattoos at Roseville Tattoo Company, was chosen to compete in the elimination-based reality competition show “Ink Master” on Paramount Network. It began airing Tuesday, Jan. 7, and will continue weekly on Tuesday nights through mid-April.

This season’s theme is “Turf War.” Four U.S. regions — East, West, Midwest and South — are represented by five artists each, who compete in various tattoo challenges to earn the approval of the judge panel (including Oliver Peck, Chris Nunez and celebrity guests), and the “canvases” — the people they’re tattooing.

The winner will earn $100,000 and a feature in Inked magazine.

Ugarte, who has been tattooing for 13 years, said he was approached by the show to reapply for this season after first applying about six years ago.

“I must have been somewhere in their backburner for all those years,” he said. “I made the cut this time. So, it was a much more inconvenient time of my life — because in those six years, I ended up having three kids, and a lot had changed for me. But, you know, it was such a huge opportunity to expose my work on such a large platform and just invest in myself and bite the bullet.”

Filming for the show involved living with 20 other tattooists on the show in New Jersey for about two months. It was difficult being away from his family for so long, he said.

But working with and learning from other tattooists has ultimately been helpful.

“The funnest part for me was what they call the ‘flash challenges,’ where you work as a team to produce art,” Ugarte said. “Not only tattoos, but you know, they come up with all kinds of crazy challenging mediums. And you’ve got to just put your heads together on a time limit. And we’ve produced some really impressive works of art out of mediums that aren’t everyday things you would think about.”

Chris Juarez — a former apprentice of Ugarte, who now owns Calculated Punkture with his wife, Estrella — says Ugarte couldn’t be more deserving of the opportunity.

“I’m super excited to see Raul on ‘Ink Master,’ not only as someone who worked with him for five years and who gave me the opportunity to be a tattooer, but as a good friend of mine for over 10 years,” Juarez said. “I believe ‘Ink Master’ was made for someone like Raul ... an amazing artist producing the work that he does in such a small city as Brentwood. This show gives an opportunity to Raul to showcase his talent, hard work and tattoos to, possibly, a worldwide audience.”

For more information about “Ink Master” and to find out how to watch, visit