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'The weight of all Canada on my shoulders': Calgary tattoo artist a contestant on 'Ink Master' reality show

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A Calgary woman is the first Canadian contestant on the show Ink Master that airs on Paramount+.

Sydney Dyer says she eats, sleeps, breaths and lives for tattooing.

"It was so much pressure, I can't even describe it," said Dyer.

"The whole country is weighing on my shoulders like me, they chose me to represent Canada, that's wild to me, it's a huge honour but it was also very stressful."

The reality show, in its 15th season, has a number of contestants who are given the task of tattooing a client and then they're judged on their work. The person at the bottom leaves the competition.

Dyer says every artist has their specialty, but in the show, they don't get to choose the tattoo they have to create. She tried talking clients into her style but it didn't always work.

"A lot of times they're a stick in the mud and say no, I want this no matter what," said Dyer.

"That's where the show gets very dramatic and entertaining, right so you're forced to go outside your comfort zone, forced to go outside anything you learned, and just dive in and do a tattoo that might not be the best one, but somebody just really wants it."

Dyer has owned the Brindle Room tattoo shop for four years and has a number of artists working in the space.

Zach Prevost's company is called Trail Mix Tattoos and is looking forward to season 15 of Ink Master.

"This season in particular, it's like a bunch of tattooers who I personally aspire and look up to, like Sydney included, of course," he said. "It's wild to see just like how much it's growing and even cooler that Sydney gets to be a part of it."

Prevost says it's exciting to work beside a new reality television star who has a lot of talent.

"It's been very cool and rewarding just working alongside Syd because she's such a unique voice in the artistic world and landscape of what Calgary's tattoo scene is," he said.

"She's built for that sort of environment, you know, like she's made to be on television and so yeah, very exciting to cheer her on and watch her flourish in that environment."

Dyer says there's always pressure to create a great tattoo for clients in her shop who are the ultimate judges of her work, but it's another story when you're work is being judged on Ink Master.

"It's just not as much pressure as tattooing in front of a panel of world-renowned tattooing judges," she said.

"It just kind of humbled me, you know, it took me a couple steps back, which is something that I was looking for prior to going on the show and it was very educational and it just kind of reset that fire for me to be even better artists."

Christine Kavanaugh sought out Dyer seven years ago to tattoo her because she loves her style.

"Her style is very feminine, I like the brooch-type look and the flowers, I have forest animals and lots of tattoos I can't show you," she said.

"Sydney reassured me that she wasn't going to forget about me by getting famous, I think that now she can take that next step and that leap and be as big as she deserves to be."

Carol and Chris Dyer are Sydney's parents and are proud of what their daughter has achieved in her tattooing career.

"It's wonderful Syd, me and your dad are very proud of you, yes we are, you turned out to be a good kid, in the end," they told her over a FaceTime call.

"We're very happy for your exposure and it's a great thing for the Brindle Room and it's a great thing for you and it's a great thing for Calgary definitely."

Dyer can't reveal how far she made it in the series and says it was a gruelling experience shooting the episodes for the show. She's excited to see what her appearance on it will do for her business.

"It just really shines a highlight on this shop, everyone that works at the Brindle Room, we're such a tight-knit family, we're all very talented," she said.

"We're all go-getters in the industry, like all we want to do is just come to work every day and tattoo people so if I can get any notoriety, any excitement, any buzz around the shop, I'm just so happy to do that for my employees."

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