The 35-year-old Cummings had beaten 10,000 other tattoo artists from across the country for a spot on the TV show. His appearance eventually led to other spots on reality-based tattoo shows such as Tattoo Nightmares in Miami, Ink Master and Ink Master’s special. He produced and starred in his own YouTube series called “Needleboys.” He also persuaded Mansfield City Council to lift a ban on tattoo shops, and then opened his own tattoo shop called Sparrows Tattoo Co. in 2012.
“I tell the boys that there's a big difference in tattooists and tattoo artists,” Cummings told the Observer in his 2015 profile. “Tattooists just take something off the wall and put it on the skin. The tattoo artists is given the freedom, the chance to create art for somebody and that makes a world difference.”
Now Cummings has gone to sling ink in the afterlife. He died on Friday after a year-long battle with cancer.
Cummings took to Instagram in early January to share news of his cancer diagnosis with family, friends and fans. He'd been diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer.
"So, before I get started, I want you all to know that this is not a joke. This is not some stupid ploy or stunt in any way to get attention or recognition. Unfortunately it's as real as it can get. I was diagnosed January 3rd 2016. I had a lot to deal with mentally these last few weeks on whether I should come out about this. Then I remember how hard it was to hide being sick. I am not ashamed by this. I want to help others who might be. I want to be a spokesman for this. You see, cancer isn't just something old people deal with. It does not discriminate or play favorites. It strikes with very little warning."
Cummings wrote that he didn't think he would be able to tattoo because the location of the tumor put him in considerable amount of pain. Since he couldn't tattoo as often, he set up a GoFundMe account to help pay his bills, though he did say he would try to tattoo artwork with other ink masters and artists in the tattoo industry when he could. He was able to raise more than $16,000 on GoFundMe.
A few weeks before he died, Cummings wrote on Instagram:
"So two months ago the cancer took a turn for the worse and has spread to my liver, lungs, kidneys and has really damaged my colon majorly. So I’ve been hospitalized again. I am still fighting, but this is a lot of pain. More than any person should have to go through. Worst is laying here in my hospital room with all these leads and fluids and everything else, and I’m so sad that there’s a chance that I might have to say goodbye to my love before I’m ready. I can’t walk anymore, can’t draw anymore, I’ve lost about everything that was me. And I’m ok with it cause I have my Kate. As long as I have you, I promise to fight everyday and never give up. I love you baby. Funny how at the absolute worst part of my life, the most painful part, knowing just how close I am to leaving, I find you. You are worth every moment of pain & suffering. I love you Kate. With all I am. Wish my luck with my surgery tomorrow."
The official Ink Master Facebook page posted on Christmas Eve morning, "The world has lost a talented artist."
We couldn't agree more.