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****Please welcome SG to the family with Ink Masters!
I don’t know why no one has ever thought to do a reality competition about tattooing but thank the gods for Spike TV. Ink Master puts 10 artists against each other to see who has the most talent.
The show starts with all the competing tattoo artists meeting each other in the meat packing district. We get little interviews and hear how they all want to win the money and show everyone how bad ass they are. Out of nowhere Dave Navarro appears and starts telling the group about the history of tattooing in New York and I just keep wondering why is Dave Navarro hosting a tattooing competition. Was Travis Barker too busy banging drums somewhere? Dave explains the reason why they are all there is to win a feature in Ink Magazine, $100,000 and the title of Ink Master.
Every competition needs a judging panel and the panel for Ink Master consists of Dave (who can give a client’s perspective), Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez. It’s like looking at pages N-P of a Kat Von D hate support group. Oliver is her ex-husband who took her Guiness World Record for most tattoos in 24 hours out of spite. Chris is the co-owner of Love Hate in Miami and her former boss back in the Miami Ink days. I’m pretty sure she’s f’ed over Dave in some capacity. I bet she stole his favorite flat iron or used all his black nail polish during one of their sleepovers. Oliver interviews that the best the artists can do is not look like a dumbass on national television while Chris says that the artists came to him for an opinion so he’s going to tell them exactly what he thinks no matter how harsh it could be.
Each episode will feature a quick skills challenge called a Flash Challenge and end with an Elimination challenge where one artist will go home until a winner is chosen. The Flash Challenge which will give the winner an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. The first flash challenge is to draw a skull which will test the artists raw talent which the judges explain can’t be faked. The artists have 90 minutes to complete the tattoo and the twist is that it will be done on a dead pig. They weren’t in the Meat Packing District just to buy bacon!
Not only are some of the artists not familiar with working on the pigs but it’s about 23 degrees in the locker so their hands start getting numb and a little shaky. The judges walk around and observe as the artists create their skull work in their style of choice. B-TAT lets us know he drives a truck full time as well as tattoo and he does it for his family and the art. Heather gives us the obligatory it’s hard as a female to be in a male dominated field speech. Yawn, scratch scratch. Dave also interjects that some of this art is more challenging than what you would see in a museum. James tells us that he loves having his thumb up a pig’s ass all day long and he automatically becomes my favorite personality. I can tell we’re going to have lots of quality lines from him. Time winds down and the judges go over each artist’s creation.
Tattoo a skull on a dead pig
The judges deliberate and tell the artists they were looking for raw talent and Josh has it so he wins the first Flash Challenge. Josh feels good about the win but a little worried about the new target on his back. Chris says the losers need to pick it up and Dave announces that the advantage is Josh gets to choose his canvas first. I agree with the judges on this one but I like colorful tattoos that fall a little on the cartoony.
They all head home and start unpacking, sizing each other up and discussing the flash challenge. Immediately everyone decides that Al is arrogant and boisterous because he spends his time running around making lovely comments about the girls cooking for the men. He explains in voiceover that his strategy is to get into people’s heads and let them know that he’s not JaRule, he’s Al Fliction. Seriously, it’s got to be a Brooklyn thing because Chris Torres from NY Ink has the same mentality as Al…I wonder if they know each other?
For the elimination challenges, each artist gets to work in their own decorated “shop”. Each room is brightly colored and adorned with the artist’s personal artwork on the walls. This week’s elimination challenge is to do a cover up tattoo which is difficult because placement and color dispersion is key. I know this personally because a lot of my friends have already had to cover up their tats and I can tell when it’s a bad job because you can always still see the original tattoo underneath it. I guess that is why they always warn you to make sure it is something you really want because it’s there forever or until you cover it with something else. After viewing their shops, the artists go meet their potential clients who they will tattoo for the elimination challenge. Each client reveals what tattoo they want to cover up and some of them are definitely more challenging than the others.
Since Josh won the flash challenge his advantage is that he gets to pick who he wants to tattoo. Josh picks the easiest tattoo to cover which may be a bad decision because it doesn’t require much effort to mask it. The other artists are selected randomly by the clients who pick from different skulls that have the artists name underneath them. Dave comments that the clients are very brave because they are working with an artist whose skills they don’t even know so the output is completely a roll of the dice. I kind of wonder how the people who are getting tatted are chosen for this show. I mean what do you do if your tattoo gets even more f’ed up or it doesn’t come out the way you want it? Does production pay for laser removal surgery? What if the artist doesn’t finish in the time alloted? These are pretty important questions to consider and guess what…we find out an answer later in the show!
The artists start evaluating their subjects and discussing the reason for the tattoo cover up and what they would like the cover up to be. Jeremy’s client has a pair of uneven wings on her back that she wants covered up for her upcoming wedding. She already seems to be kind of on edge and I am pretty sure this will not end well. There isn’t much focus on the other artists with the exception of Tommy who seems to be trying very hard to concentrate on this chick’s ass. I get it’s a tramp stamp but damn, how long do you need to stare at it to visualize the end result? Everyone heads home and we get a glimpse of who wants to cause trouble…Al tells everyone though it’s only been a day he is thankful to have known everyone and then interviews that he can’t wait to destroy them all and win. There’s always one in the bunch and it’s usually the guy who ends up not winning.
Back to the shop the next day and the artists are all preparing to start their cover ups. Oliver says that raw talent comes into play because you have to envision the final piece before it’s completed. Jeremy’s client wobbles onto the stool and starts crying immediately and explains in voiceover she doesn’t know what she would do if she had to get married with her uneven wing tattoo. I’m pretty sure she has never been to Sephora because Kat Von D put her name on a tattoo cover up makeup that could relieve that situation. Wedding dresses with backs or keeping your hair down also work but getting tattooed on national television and crying like a baboon works too.
Not even ten minutes in and Jeremy’s client starts screaming bloody murder and moving around. Jeremy explains that if she doesn’t sit still her tat will not come out right and I’m really beginning to see why the tattoo was crooked to begin with. Oliver explains that her discomfort is probably because she is in an uncomfortable position and if she were to lay down she would be in less pain. I think she needs a valium or a hard punch to the face. The judges walk around and talk with the artists and check on their progress. Chris explains that an Ink Master is someone who can do any type of style to make their client happy but with their own twist. Jeremy’s client continues crying and eventually gives up on her tattoo saying she can’t do it anymore and leaves while cursing the cameraman out. Jeremy voice overs that this is probably his worst client ever and that it sucks that he ended up with her because she could cause him to be sent home.
The time counts down and the artists have to put their machines down and get ready for deliberations. Everyone finishes in the nick of time except Jeremy whose client walked out which leaves him in fear of going home. The artists are eating dinner and discussing the clients and what happened with Jeremy. Al wonders outloud if Jeremy is still in the competition or not because he didn’t complete his artwork. I’m pretty sure everyone is in agreement that Jeremy should be leaving due to an unfinished tattoo. Reality TV 101 taught me that when the editors focus on one particular person during an episode, it usually means that person is about to bounce and we heard a whole lot from him today. The artists are called before the judges one by one and given their critiques and a chance to explain their vision.
Cover up tattoo
Jeremy says that his client was difficult from the beginning and Oliver says it was likely because she was in an uncomfortable position. Jeremy states that it’s difficult to do a back piece but I think what he really meant to say was that it is hard doing a tattoo on a person with no pain tolerance and fame aspirations whose covering up a tattoo that is crooked because they likely moved around and bitched when they got it done…or maybe that’s just what I was thinking.
Josh is next and says that his advantage helped him execute a great piece. Chris states the obvious that the new tattoo is bright and big but that it didn’t wow him because it showed no raw talent or challenge. I kind of wonder what Chris would say if someone other than Josh had been randomly selected to cover this tattoo up. Someone would have to have done it so is it really a penalty because it’s the one Josh selected?
Heather comes out of the gate swinging and tells the judges to bring it on. So Chris lets her know that the draping on the bottom sucks and that she didn’t do enough to distinguish the hair from the chin. Oh and her ear is also missing. During the deliberations, Dave mentions that he would be pissed if he was a veteran who fought for our country and received a tattoo like that.
Al Fliction pleads his case saying that he had the toughest of the group and because of the time constraint he decided to incorporate the original design instead of covering it up. The judges aren’t impressed and feel like he didn’t pull off a solid job.
Shane’s tattoo was pretty faded to start with and although he is congratulated on it being a smooth job, Oliver felt like it might have been a little too easy and that he could have used other colors besides green. Chris picks up on the fact that the tail of the koi is too small and the head is too big and that he missed the mark.
Bili’s tattoo cover up probably put him on a lifetime ban from The Gathering of the Juggalos but the judges all liked it with Dave saying the eye looked real and wet. I’m pretty sure the tattoo is not an eye but something a little more towards the south but they weren’t allowed to say it on tv. Seriously, take a look at it and tell me what eyes have you seen surrounded by dark pink flesh that are wet all the time.
Lea says she could have used more time to add some more contrast but Dave says the client was a little orange himself so the coloring to use so much orange made the tattoo a little hard to distinguish between client and work. Chris feels that her work is a little too soft to be doing such a large scale color piece. I’m pretty sure he just said she was too girly to be doing such a manly piece in a snarky way.
Regarding Tommy’s work, Oliver says he did a great job and the only negative he could think of was that the white highlights used might get muddy over time. I’m more curious as to why the client wanted to cover up a tattoo as personal as a tribute to a dead father.
Chris says B-TAT needs to make more precise lines if he is going to do a Fu Dog. Then he says the tattoo is bumped, lumped, not straight and it looked like B-TAT was nervous. The tattoo looks a little weird to me because it’s more of a creepy turtle than a Fu Dog but that was my interpretation.
James, who is quickly becoming my favorite personality of the show, said he nearly jumped when he heard his client wanted some armor. He did a decent job of covering up the previous words but it’s pointed out by the judges that you can still see parts of the tattoo underneath. Chris would have liked the job to be a little more straight. I kind of wonder if the guy is going to go back and get the same piece done on his other shoulder. Seems kind of weird to only protect your left shoulder with armor.
Dave sends the artists back so the judges can deliberate on who is going home. The artists agree that the challenge was hard and more difficult than they had thought it would be. Josh says that if the goal was to do a cover up and you could no longer see the original tattoo then they succeeded and that was that. I’m guessing he thought if he did a great tattoo it wouldn’t matter that his level of difficulty was at a 2. Jeremy who has to be a psychic at this point fears that he will be sent home because his tattoo wasn’t finished and the judges don’t have much to actually judge.
Oliver gathers up Tommy, Shane, B-TAT and Jeremy which means the rest of the artists are safe. Shane and Tommy are the top two with Jeremy and B-TAT at the bottom. Tommy wins because his tattoo worked a design that really covered up the previous tattoo. So deliberations over the bottom two begin and Chris says that B-TAT put his balls on the table and hacked them off because his tattoo didn’t come close to what he drew up and he bit off more than he chewed. Oliver says that Jeremy should have laid his client down the minute she started complaining and Jeremy disagrees. Jeremy said had he laid the client down he would have worked in uncomfortable positions and Chris says we are all hunched over from doing tats in weird positions for 20 years. Jeremy explains he would rather be sent home for taking the responsible route instead of trying to just rush it and he put her in the best position to do the best job. Chris disagrees with this and I’m just WAITING for them to send Jeremy home.
Dave Navarro states that it’s clear who is going home today during the final meeting with the other judges but he’s lying because it wasn’t clear who was getting sent home because they send home BTAT! He leaves and explains that he will continue doing what he does and providing for his family even though it sucks he didn’t win the money. Although everything in reality competition history has led us to believe that not finishing equals instant elimination, Jeremy is saved by the skin of his teeth. I like Jeremy’s work and he seems really cool but he didn’t finish and I feel he should have been sent home for it.
So gasmii, Can anyone explain Oliver’s obsession with toothpicks? Did you agree that B-TAT (who finished his tattoo) should have been sent home over Jeremy (who didn’t finish)? Thanks for joining me and see you next week!