Alayna's Exit Interview: I Was Rooting for Darnell & Karly

Alayna was one of the more unlikely artists to compete on Best Ink. As a sweet, good-natured girly-girl who worked as an accountant until just a few years ago, people didn't expect her to become one of the top competitors on a tattoo show. But Alayna made a bold move to pursue tattooing, and she landed in the number 3 spot in this season of Best Ink! She was eliminated in the finale, but only after creating an amazing body of work and making loads of friends in the process. Scroll down to read her full exit interview! 

It was SO CLOSE! Did you agree with the judges’ final decision to keep Darnell and Karly, and to send you home?   

That was incredibly close. I honestly had no idea which way the judges were going to go.  I really thought I brought my "A" game for that final challenge and was really happy and proud of the tattoos I did during that long crazy day. I always saw Karly, Darnell, and Willy as the front runners throughout the entire competition, but for that last crazy Flash Challenge, I really did see myself right there neck and neck with Karly and Darnell and for the first time I thought I had a real shot at that $100,000. I think they are both incredibly talented and I'm sure the judges factored in each of our entire track records into their decision with which two to move forward. I had my ups and downs throughout the competition, and they were both so consistently good. As crazy as it sounds, I was rooting for those two, and I didn't want either of them to be eliminated!  But I was super proud of myself that last day (finally), and although I wasn't surprised to be sent home, I wouldn't have been surprised to move forward either!  

How did it feel to be one of the Top 3? Did you expect to make it that far going in?

It was incredible to make it to the Top 3! Being selected as one of 14 artists to compete was a huge accomplishment in itself and I was setting these mini goals for myself along the way. Once I saw the level of talent I was up against, I really just saw myself in the middle and was crossing my fingers to at least get to do a pinup tattoo (my way) and get an opportunity to showcase my personal style. I think it was around the bio-mech challenge when I was really pushed beyond my comfort zone, I started gaining some courage, confidence, and momentum. And after the mermaid tattoo, I was determined to at least get as close as I could to the top.

What did you take away from your experience on Best Ink?  

I've made a lot of major life-altering decisions in the past couple of years, and all have been really difficult and really challenging.  One was my career change. I was still working behind a desk doing accounting through 2010, so at only three years into tattooing, the decision to compete on Best Ink was another difficult and risky move for me. I'm still green in this industry, and I know I have a lot to learn and a long path yet to take.  I tried to see the Best Ink experience as almost like an apprenticeship graduate program. I knew it was going to be difficult, I knew I was going to be criticized (publicly), and I knew I was going to be uncomfortable. I didn't know it would be so intense or so emotional! But for me, the best part of being on the show was the validation that I made the right decision back in 2010. My journey is really just still beginning in this industry and I couldn't be happier.

Has your life/career changed since you were featured on the show?

The encouragement and support from my friends, family, clients, peers, and fans has been incredible and overwhelming.  It’s really awesome and equally motivating.  Right now I'm gaining tons of new clients, doing a bunch of new pinups, am booked out for months, and even have people flying to Los Angeles just to get tattooed by me.  Tattooing someone is already such a personal and intimate experience and I'm always honored to be chosen as a client's artist. Best Ink has definitely expanded my client roster and I'm so happy to meet all of these new rad people!  I also built some great bonds and friendships with the other artists from the show. And now Romeo is even working with me in L.A.  

Which tattoo are you most proud of from the show? How about the least proud?

My favorite tattoo was the mermaid.  I just freaking love everything about mermaids so much!  I never get tired of drawing them!  And I'd never done an eel tail mermaid, so that was super fun.  As for my least proud moment, there were a few that didn't meet the challenges but the only one I'm not proud of is the unfinished tattoo on Bleach. I just hope that experience didn't scare that poor girl away from getting it finished one day.  Her reasons behind the tattoo were just too important and personal to leave unfinished like that.  

What’s in your tattooing future?  

One of the many perks of tattooing is traveling and I will be doing a lot of it this year, tattooing at conventions and guest spots all over the country. I'll be at the NY Empire State Tattoo Expo in June, the Albuquerque Duke City Tattoo Fiesta in July, Boston Tattoo Convention in August, and Pittsburgh Steel City Tattoo Convention in September, plus a few more!  I'm also booking some guest spots at shops in Chicago, New York, and a few other cities.  I'll be posting dates and info on my website and social media (, , ,

Watch Alayna's exit interview video!

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