VALDOSTA — A Valdosta tattoo artist is joining the cast of "Ink Master" season 12. 

The Paramount Network’s tattoo competition series will feature Tito Zambrano of Hollywood Twisted Needles beginning its premiere time and date of 10 p.m., June 11.

Zambrano said the show has been an amazing experience because it helped him as a tattoo artist.

“It was totally life-changing,” Zambrano said. “I found out a lot of things about myself, and I found that I was a better artist and person from the experience.”

Zambrano said he has tried out for the show before during its earlier seasons. Never having made it past the application, it wouldn’t be for another 10 years before he would be approved to go through a six-month process of casting.

The show’s crew stayed in touch with Zambrano during that time, contacting him every other week or once a month.

“I had a feeling, but nothing was certain,” Zambrano said. “There are 18 people chosen out of the entire country. You realize just how many people apply and how many people are selected.”

Originally from Panama, Zambrano has been tattooing in Valdosta for more than a decade.

He wound up in this small South Georgia town after attending art school and wanting to find a way to support his single mother back home.

“I wanted to paint,” Zambrano said. “When I moved to Valdosta, I didn’t find a way to make a career as a painter or drawer, so I found myself doing art with tattoos. It’s great — I can get paid and show my art.”

Zambrano said the world may not see Valdosta as a tattoo-friendly place, but there are quite a few tattoo artists in town, and he feels like he joined the community at the right, most accepting time.

He’s most proud to be on the show because he’s putting not just himself, but all of Valdosta’s tattoo community, on the national map.

“Things are changing here, and we’re making a difference,” Zambrano said. “With this show, we can put ourselves on the map. I feel so honored to represent this town.”

Zambrano and the rest of the Hollywood Twisted Needles team invites the public to join them at a public watch party the night of the premiere at Dick’s Wings and Grill, 1531 Baytree Road.

If unable to attend the viewing party, the show premieres on Paramount Network, formerly known as Spike.

"Ink Master" premiered in 2012 as a competitive tattoo arts show that starts with 18 contestants and ends with one lucky winner going home with $100,000 and the title of Ink Master.

The show is presented by Dave Navarro and judged by Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck.

Katelyn Umholtz is a reporter with the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256.

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