Nicky on Best Ink 105: I kept letting my paranoia get to me.

I could run up and look at Kim closer and then run back to my easel, but that would not have worked for me because of my short term memory loss caused by my car accident.

The Flash Challenge was hard. Kim was sitting so far away and I am nearsighted, so it was really difficult to see her clearly. I can tattoo just fine without my glasses because I am so close to my canvas. I was told that I could run up and look at Kim closer and then run back to my easel, but that would not have worked for me because of my short term memory loss caused by my car accident. I would have literally forgotten what I had just seen. I just did my best to interpret the shadows and highlights I was seeing from a distance and fill in the rest from memory. I had watched Kim on American Idol way back in the day and I could remember her very distinctive features. It's nearly impossible to draw an exact likeness from memory, but it was at least something to draw from. I wasn't extremely pleased with the results, only because it didn't do Kim justice and wasn't exactly as realistic as I am capable of. All of the artists agree that I am a great portrait artist. I can draw and paint a face with extreme accuracy and realism. However, I have only actually tattooed a couple portraits in the past.

A great portrait tattoo has to be placed on the body very specifically. You cannot do a portrait tattoo on an area of the body that is constantly moving, therefore contorting the image. Places such as the stomach or the neck definitely do not work. Even some people's calves don't work, depending on the muscular definition. Beyond the placement, you have to have a perfect resemblance. To get a good likeness of a subject, you have to replicate every shadow, highlight and mid-tone exactly as it is in the photo you are working from.

There were a number of things that concerned me before starting the Ink Challenge. I had yet again gotten a virgin skin. This was my 4th first timer in the competition thus far, out of 5 tattoos. I went through hell with the previous challenge of tattooing a first timer. Besides that, I had a larger space to cover. I was worried because I had to make my portrait fairly large considering the time allotted. Since I had only done two portrait tattoos prior to this, I knew from experience that I do them really slowly. It is something that you have to take your time with in order to capture every little detail accurately. Unfortunately my reference photo was very high contrast. It had a lot of really dark areas and really light areas with not a whole lot of mid-tones. I almost wouldn't even consider it a traditional portrait, but more of a graphic design. It was an awesome photo, but it definitely wasn't a soft portrait image. It was very harsh.

When I found out that Alexis won the Flash Challenge advantage of getting the only vote for elimination, my initial thought was, "Effin right!!! I'm safe!" But then I kept letting my paranoia get to me and I would go back and forth from thinking I was safe, to thinking she may vote for me just to seem fair and not make any enemies.

Joe is definitely a little intimidating and he made me feel really small at times when he would talk to us. I understood where he was coming from when he told us we needed to “perform,” but he wasn't around all the time to truly understand everything we had to deal with every day. For example, he had never witnessed Jess' true form and how negative and annoying she could be.

Joe was right when he said that in order to be a good tattoo artist you need to be well rounded. However, in order to be great, it's always better to specialize in one thing. That's not to say that you shouldn't still know how to do everything, because you should. But you should also have that one thing that you excel in and are well known for. Joe is known for his Capo-Girls. I'm sure Joe does not do tribal. I'm sorry, but if someone came into his shop and asked for a tribal arm band, I guarantee you he would not do it! Just saying.

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