My interview with Justin was one of those things that rarely happens to a magazine editor – a scoop! When I stopped in the Raw Canvas to ask a few questions on an unrelated topic, Justin had just found out that he had been pegged to do Ink Shrinks. He gave me the exclusive interview mere hours before the magazine when to press. Usually the timeline of a magazine schedule means we are never the first on the story, only the most interesting. This time we were both!
Here is the unedited version:
New Canvas, National Stage
By Cecily Whiteside
When Spike TV went looking for tattoo artists to star in their new show “Ink Shrinks,” who would have thought they’d end up in Grand Junction, Colorado? Not Justin Nordine, tattoo artist and Owner of The Raw Canvas. But that’s just what happened.
Last November, a casting company contacted Justin about a new “docu-series” to follow-up on the success of Spike TV’s popular show, Ink Masters, whose finale last year pulled in 2.4 million viewers. The network was interested in combining art therapy with ink to create something new and different – a show that gives the troubled a way to honor their past, memorialize a loved one, or face something they’ve gone through in their life. By combining therapy with the commemoration of a tattoo, designed as part of the therapy process, they hope to provide a tangible expression of the healing that takes place.
One of those tattoo artists is Justin Nadine, born and raised in Grand Junction. Justin worked for a few years on the Front Range as an art teacher, coming home to the Grand Valley to open the Raw Canvas in 2008. Since then he has been doing what he loves, creating art with people as the canvas.
“At first I wasn’t all that interested,” Justin says. “I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. But after talking with them about it, I liked the idea. As a tattoo artist, I put something permanent on people’s skin. My own life story is in my own tattoos, on my own body. It seemed like a way to do something deep, something tangible, for people.”
After several months of interviews – some via Skype, some in person, the talent pool was whittled down. And Justin was still in the running.
“Then they asked me to come out to L.A. for a ‘chemistry test.’ We all got together for a photo shoot, the therapists, the artists, to see how we all interacted, how we worked together. There was a lot of talent there – artists in the industry that I’ve looked up to for a long time. I came home thinking ‘that was fun’ not thinking it was anything more than a great experience.”
But he got the call a few weeks later – while he was on vacation at Disney World with this family. He was in. They flew him out to film the pilot at Venice Beach in early summer, but swore him to secrecy until now.
“Life is really interesting. And it’s only going to get more interesting!” Justin says. “It was really eye-opening for a small town kids from Colorado. How the TV industry works. It was tough emotionally too. There was a huge impact on the individuals doing the therapy. With my guy, Joey, we got to really help. I got to do what I love, what I’m passionate about, and was able to help him heal too. I do this everyday, here in my shop. It’s the same stuff, people come in here for the same reasons – to get over something, or to honor something or someone. But now, it’s just a bigger scale.”
The pilot of Ink Shrinks will air on Spike TV December 16 at 9 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. Tune in to see local artist Justin Nordine hit the big time.
Published with permission of Grand Valley Magazine