Exit Interview with Carey Matthews: Happy to Be Off Set and Back Home

Carey Matthews bade farewell to Best Ink on the Season premiere, just as we were getting to know him! His 'wrath'-themed tattoo didn't make the grade according to the judges, especially not where the roses were concerned. But, you haven't heard the last from this Louisiana artist! Carey is actively tattooing, painting, and working on cars. While he learned a lot from his experience, he probably won't ever grace the TV tattoo contest stage again. Find out why in his exit interview after the jump!

What have you, been up to since filming Best Ink?

Since the show I’ve returned to my shop Grafic Ink Studio back Kenner, LA right outside New Orleans, where I’m back to my normal routine. I work by appointment only pretty much and I’m usually booked a month or two in advance. Outside of art, I occasionally get to build on and show my custom lowriders. I just returned from Houston last week where I took home third place in one of the biggest shows in Texas.

Did you agree with the judges’ decision to keep Izzie and Lara, and to send you home?

Honestly, I’m laid back and humble, so I like to just leave it at "who am i to judge a judge..." It was a decision between a finished vs. unfinished piece -- or maybe an “off-topic” piece. It was an opinion that they are paid to have. Honestly there was another tattoo or two that could have been in the bottom three as well, but I don’t insult other artists’ work. Lara and Izzie are both dope people that I was fortunate to meet.  

I don’t feel any less than any of the other competitors artistic-wise. However I hate the fact I had to leave before showing the world what I really can do.  After I got a small glimpse of how cutthroat and dramatic some of the contestants were getting, though, I was a bit relieved once I was off set. 

Describe the challenges of completing your 7 Deadly Sin tattoo in your own words.

The concept for the challenge was cool, but it sucked from the jump when I got last pick, and had to wait longer than the other artists. I feel if I had been able to pick sooner, momentum would have changed. Although she seemed to be a cool person, my client didn't have much she wanted other than her parents’ names, so I had to pull something out of her that she would want to get. I barely got to talk to my client, unlike those who got earlier picks. Also I was not aware that my skin had another tattoo right under where I was inking, so that further altered the design and threw another curveball. Another challenge was: there's no music or anything in the work areas to make a hectic situation more comfortable!

 If you could go back and do the tattoo differently, would you? If so, what would you do differently?

I would have just done the initial piece I sketched out, done it in black and gray despite the skin wanting color, and not to have listened to Joe's negative comments on my roses sketch.

The judges had some things to say about your execution (especially of the roses!) vs. the longevity of your career. What would you say to them now?  

I appreciate the art of Hannah and Joe -- actually I used to collect Joe’s books back in 2001 or so. Yes, there definitely were some spiteful and snobby things said during critique, but regardless what they feel, I am a professional artist in many disciplines, and I can handle constructive criticism from artists of their status. I know right from wrong, the amount of years I've been tattooing has little to do with the little piece of my abilities I got to demonstrate on the show. Yes there are good and terrible tattoos but art is an opinion. Joe and Hannah went off what they saw in that piece and didnt like, my skin loved her work – so it’s a tossup for me.

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

It's definitely a survival of the fittest kinda battle! There are a lot of issues and factors that go into play for contestants way before they do a tattoo that either make or break you. If nothing else, not being able to gear up the way you normally would to do a tattoo changes everything. But, I got chosen to do something that only a handful of people can ever say they've done. I made a few new artist friendships and let people know I exist. Regardless of the outcome, I feel everyone selected is a winner to an extent. I also learned that contest tattooing outside of a convention setting is not for me. I need to be in a comfortable, laid back environment where I can create and not be rushed or in a hostile atmosphere.

What’s in your tattooing future?

Just a lot more of my same ol. My art is always evolving, I learn new things daily. I am fortunate to have a strong clientele and it keeps growing. I plan to travel a whole lot more doing guest spots and keeping my childhood dream alive. I plan to continue my same path until life ends or it's not fun anymore. Although the show could have been another boost, it didn’t make and definitely can't break what I've already struggled to build. It motivated me to get back home and keep at what makes me and my clients happy.

Watch an exit interview with Carey!

Keep up with Carey on his Instagram (@inkpusher504) and his website. Tune into the next episode of Best Ink 3 airing Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 10/9c, only on Oxygen.

Read more about: Joe Capobianco Hannah Aitchison

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