After years of watching Ink Master, Duffy Fortner of Calvert County, finally got a chance to make her mark on season 6, “Master vs. Apprentice.”

“This year with the premise being (master) versus apprentice Dave and (I) both went at it together;” said Duffy. “Both of us had applied to the show previously and nothing ever came of it but this year, as a team, it went through.”

In September 2014 Duffy and her “Master,” Dave Krusman, heard back from the show and began working with the network. At the beginning of February 2015 everything was finalized and they were set to begin filming.

See the promo video of Duffy and Krusman here.

Duffy, the mother of one, works at her family’s tattoo shop, Red Octopus, located in Prince Frederick.  She said it was difficult to take so much time away from home and said she almost did not participate because of the time she would potentially spend away from her family.

“It was terrible, I was crying every night, I cried myself to sleep and I couldn’t focus,” she said. “Then come two weeks into it I just had to snap out of it and say to myself, if I’m gonna spend this time away from my baby and my family and my business; I need to make my time here worth it.”

The 18 participants, nine masters and nine apprentices, were to plan for ten weeks of filming, as that would complete all of the challenges. The amount of time they spent on the show depended on their elimination.

The premise of the show is a battle between tattoo artists for the title of “Ink Master,” $100,000, and a feature in Inked magazine.

Going from working in a tattoo shop in Southern Maryland to being followed by cameras was an adjustment, according to Duffy.

“It was intimidating,” she said. “Every part of the whole process was intimidating. Knowing that you had so much on the line; not only are you fighting for this prize but you’re gonna be in the public eye. So every move you made you knew they were gonna catch it. Everyone was a little tense the first week or two.”

Duffy said she did her best to be herself throughout the whole competition.

“I warmed up to the camera and being on film pretty well,” she said. “But I still wanted to stay true to myself and be who I was so I tried to act as normal as possible.”

Duffy said that she enjoys watching the show. She said that what she enjoys the most is seeing how everything was edited together to be aired and watching herself, and the other artists, work through the different challenges.

After completing several different challenges throughout her time there one experience stood out from the rest. During episode 12 there was a challenge where the seven remaining artists were able to work with people who have Downs Syndrome. The challenge was for the artist to tattoo the artwork done by the guests with Downs Syndrome on the loved one that they brought with them.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Everything about that day–it was just such a pleasant surprise at such a hard time in the competition. They were so excited to be there, just so happy to be there. It put the whole competition in perspective; it wasn’t about us that day.”

Even after going through this competition Duffy has remained the same humble woman from Southern Maryland.

“It’s still bizarre to me that people want to meet me and that people come up to me and they’re excited,” she said. “But it’s awesome at the same time because if I can affect someone like that it’s like, my job’s done. (This experience) has made me more thankful for everything.”

Duffy made it to the final 5 after beginning the journey with 17 other artists and was eliminated at the end of episode 14.

“I was so happy to be there,” said Duffy. “I was just eager to do more. It was just cool to be sitting there with these other contestants knowing that everybody deserved to be there. I was bummed not to be in the finale but I’m really happy to have experienced everything I did. I don’t have any regrets towards the show. I’m extremely happy I did it. It was totally worth it.”

All participants will return to New York for the live finale on Oct. 13 where the three finalists will battle for the win.

Contact Jessica Goodell at