Whatever Happened To Shane O'Neill, The First Ink Master Winner?

Shane O'Neill was the first winner of Ink Master during the show's premiere season in 2012. According to Big Tattoo Planet, O'Neill started out as a self-taught artist in a variety of mediums and earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Philadelphia University of the Arts. His ability to illustrate lent itself to getting into tattooing, which he said his brother helped motivate him to do.

By the time he was a contestant on Ink Master, he'd been a tattoo artist for 15 years, specializing in horror, realism, wildlife, and portraits. 

After winning Ink Master's $100,000 prize, O'Neill told his hometown paper in Delaware, the Dover Post, that he planned to put the money in the bank to save for "something else later on." He also told the paper that in the aftermath of his win, he just wanted life to continue as normal. 

"Honestly I just want to continue the way my life is and know this is a notch on my belt that I've accomplished and I made my kids happy and my wife," O'Neill said. 

Shane O'Neill still tattoos, but by appointment only

In the years since Shane O'Neill won Ink Master, he's kept a low profile. The owner of Middleton, Delaware's Infamous Tattoo, Delaware Online reports O'Neill is in a position where customers fly from around the country and Canada to get inked by the artist, whose portraits are so realistic they look to be photographic.

O'Neill also started a line of tattoo and piercing aftercare products called System One Tattoo Products. These days, you can't get tattooed by O'Neill without an appointment that you make with him personally via email, according to Bullseye Tattoo Shop in Staten Island, where O'Neill is a guest artist. Posts from one of his social media accounts, most of which haven't been updated in years, showed he stayed active on the tattoo convention scene, at least up until 2015.

As far as embracing the limelight, O'Neill seems to have stuck to what he told the Dover Post back in 2012 when someone warned him about how things can go in the aftermath of winning a reality TV show. 

"I remember at the end of the show — someone [was] interviewing me, [who was] part of production, and saying like, 'please don't let this go to your head, I've seen this so many times,'" O'Neill said. "I understand how people get carried away, and stuff like that, with thinking they did something special. But I mean, I did accomplish something, but I didn't save the world or anything like that."