Dan Lorenzo: Besides winning Ink Master and getting the prize money, I imagine getting out of the Ink Master "cocoon" must also be a great feeling?
Josh Payne: [laughs] Absolutely. I mean it's a rat race; even during the show airing, it was stressful.
Was there ever a moment before the end where you thought, I have to get out of here now?
There was a period in the middle, where my dreams were mixing into reality and reality was more weird than my dreams. But I had the advantage of no wife or kids, which makes things easier, so I just had to lock in and enjoy the ride. Yeah, the pressure can really break you.
Who do you think you will stay in touch with from this season?
I mean DJ is my boy, but definitely Frank (Ready), Lil D and Jason.
I was a jock growing up and I just read you played sports, too. What sports were you best at?
[laughs] I grew up running cross country and track, believe it or not. I still run to keep fit.
Tell me about your Triumph.
I just bought a new Triumph Bobber; it's super fun, very retro looking but all modern — it's a real head turner. I like to stand out from the crowd; that's why I didn’t choose a Harley. [laughs]
You started tattooing to make money that you had hoped would lead you into the special effects end of the movie business, right?
Yeah. I've always been enamored with horror, gore, monsters, and aliens, so I got into tattooing as a way to fund my creativity, but quickly found that I could create all those things in tattooing. So tattooing became the best of both worlds.
Did you ever envision tattooing would bring you this type of success?
[laughs] Oh no man. I never dreamt that I’d ever be close to this, but the experience is amazing and tattooing is the best job... I could never ask for better.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Not really, just bust your ass and always work hard. I came from a hodunk town and I’ve proved you can get out if you really want to. I mean, I did come back but that’s not the point.