I felt like I won just by being in the top three.
Being a finalist on Best Ink gave me more than what I expected to achieve, and I felt like I won just by being in the top three. The best part was that I really felt like London, Jon, and I had the strongest work, so I felt from there on out there would be no more politics, just good tattoos.
I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when they told us we could design what we wanted for our Ink Challenge. We had typically had our hands tied for most of the challenges and now we could let our work speak for itself by doing what we do best. It was stressful to know that we had to do three tattoos and barely had time to get ready for them. Even though we could do what we wanted, we still did have constraints which sucked. But it was better than dealing with the former constraints. It was also wonderful working with my previous skins. I had a connection to each person and I almost cried when they walked out. They were like a super supportive cheering squad.
When the lady from Tattoo Magazine said that I should have been more prepared, I was ready to scream. One minute we are busting our butts trying to draw all of this artwork, and the next minute we are told to grab everything we had hanging on the walls and in our drawers and go to this room. Only then were we informed that we were meeting with someone from Tattoo Magazine. Naturally, since I had no idea what was going on, I still had tape on everything and my artwork was disheveled and messy. If I had known that I was going into a meeting, I would have been better prepared.
My concept for my tattoos was that love is like a light and will always shine through the darkness. I used the theme of lanterns and glowing light in all of the tattoos. I also put little mosquitoes in the tattoos, like they were being drawn to the light.
In the end, I was not surprised that London won. I actually really think I had a shot at it, but I think I knew he was going to win once Roman left. It seemed inevitable.
I've learned from this competition that I can pretty much handle anything that's thrown at me and that I'm pretty good under pressure. I am more determined and competitive than I thought. My style has always been a little cartoon-y, a little realistic "graphic realism," as London puts it, but now, since the show I can actually see the uniqueness of the style I've harnessed. There’s no name for it but it’s "my" style.
I have such a hardcore, new-found romance with tattooing again; this show made me really care about what I do. I always knew I was okay at tattooing, but to be a finalist showed me that I'm better than I think I am and I do know what I'm doing! I'm very proud of what I do and of what I have to offer. I have been super motivated by all of the other artists I've met and it just makes me want to be better and better!