Season 7 of “Ink Master” might be the most intense installment of the Spike series yet. The tattoo reality competition has never skimped on the drama or talent, yet this year they managed to elevate things by bringing back former top-notch competitors to go up against skilled new artists. And according to executive producers Glenda Hersh and Andrea Richter, that intensity that fans love is going to continue into Seasons 8 and 9.

“I think the great thing about ‘Ink Master’ as a series and what has kept fans coming back season after season is that the creative keeps changing,” Hersh, co-CEO of both Original Media and True Entertainment productions, explains to International Business Times. “It’s not the same pattern every season. You don’t tune in and see the exact same game play … it’s more than just who can tattoo the best. It’s also who can play the game.”

That’s something that viewers witnessed last Tuesday during episode 9 when contestants Sausage and Jime Litwalk, who had a history of dominating the competition in previous seasons, were sent packing in a shocking elimination.

“Everybody wants a second shot,” Hersh says of alums like Sausage and Litwalk rejoining the competition. “And every one of them believes they should be ‘Ink Master.’”

Glenda Hersh “Ink Master” Glenda Hersh knows that many alums want a second chance at the title. Photo: Babygrande PR

“On some level they’re right,” Richter, who is also the series Showrunner, adds. “They’re all amazing. And that’s what made [the episode 9] elimination so gut wrenching. That’s what’s going to make the next ones coming up because these are all characters and people and artists who we’ve come to know and love on some level.”

The Season 7 competition is now down to six contestants, made up of two new players and four returning. And, honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

“This is the question we get asked every season — ‘Is this the best group of artists so far?’ Once we kept hearing that question asked then it became like, alright, let’s take the best of the best from the first six seasons and put them with half new artists. Lets truly prove whether the artists now are better than some that we had in the first seasons,” Richter continues. “And I think that goes to prove that art evolves. Tattooing evolves. We have the best of the best and then we also did go out and find people who we felt were very strong in their art forms that could handle taking on some of the veterans.”

One of the new artists that “Ink Master” recruited for Season 7 was Megan Jean Morris, who quickly became one of the competitors to watch in the first few weeks. However, after some rough challenges, Morris found herself eliminated in episode 8.

“I thought Megan was going to make it further,” Hersh admits. “I thought we might have our first female ‘Ink Master,’ which I would love to see.”

And that might actually be something that fans get to watch happen relatively soon.

“It’s definitely a male driven industry,” says Richter. “But I think it’s changing and I think that we will see a female ‘Ink Mater’ in the near future. The females that are submitting and applying are getting stronger and stronger. I think it’s just finding the right woman at the right time to come into the competition. That’s kind of the thing about each one of these competitions, and again, that’s what it’s showing you in Season 7. It’s a game of strategy, it’s a game of luck and it’s a game of art.”

The game will continue into August when Season 8 premieres. Filming is already underway, and Hersh and Richter can confirm that the new twist will be revealed during the upcoming Season 7 finale.

“It’s just going to be fantastic,” Hersh teases of the finale. “It’s going to be big, it’s going to be exciting. There are going to be a lot of surprises in the way it’s done and there’s going to be a great juicy moment that I think fans will be really happy about.”

New episodes of "Ink Master" air Tuesday on Spike at 10 p.m. EDT. The Season 7 finale will air on May 24.