Judge's Corner: Joe Blogs About Carey's Roses, Karly's Win, and Lara's Attitude!

Wow, well here we are for another season of Best Ink. We the judges have been allowed to give a little insight into each episode, and to let the viewers know what was going on inside our head.

I think firstly it should be known to the viewer that we judges take our jobs quite seriously. So much so that Hannah and I glove up and clean the tattoos to get a better, closer look at the contestant tattoos while the photography of the work is going on. So when we say “that line looks a bit blown out,” or “the shading’s kinda chewed up,” we’re coming from an up-close-and-personal place.  

This first episode of Season 3 has some pretty young, and honestly raw talent, as well as a couple of experienced tattooers. I personally was underrating a handful of them right out of the gate, and was really blown away by what some of them pulled off (and would continue to accomplish throughout the competition.)


I’m sure a lot of folks out there (as well as in my personal circle) were less than happy with my up-front comment to Carey about his roses "sucking.” Normally I’m a bit more couth when it comes to critiquing or commenting in front of the Skins (a rule of thumb I was taught coming up in tattooing: "never say anything bad about a person’s existing tattoo in front of them"). But in certain cases, I may not see the tattoo until too much damage has been done, and I just kinda go into "Joe Mode," and give it to the artist from the hip. In this case, even that didn’t save Carey. 

It kind of bums me out to see a tattooer with that much experience not be able to roll with the punches and stress of the competition, making some pretty basic mistakes, and having issues with the fundamentals of this trade. This competition is basically "the Tattoo Convention from Hell,” or a week in the hardest shop you've ever worked in. Oh yeah, for the worst boss you've ever had.  

For me and the other judges, Carey's years of experience against Izzi's is what saved her over him this elimination. He made mistakes that were just unforgivable. As for Karly’s win this episode: what can I say, she did a really beautiful tattoo! Solid, and very colorful. Well-placed on the body, and drawn in a style that we the judges find attractive. Overall it was a real nice premiere piece for her. 

I've been asked by a few about Lara's lack of enthusiasm about having me over her shoulder. Honestly it’s a competition, and I'd not want me hanging around sometimes either. But, eh, tough sh*t. That’s the name of the game, I'm Head Judge, and get to offer my comments, critiques, and help when I can. A smart artist in his shop takes in everything they’re told throughout the day, from his peers -- and yes even the skin -- and uses that to make a more well-educated piece of art. I think a lot can be learned by opening up a bit to others. 

For some tattooers, it takes a few tattoos to get into the swing of things. New shop, crazy environment, new artists to work around. It can be difficult for some. So unfortunately I don't think we get to see some artists really shine before they’re asked to leave. 

 As for where this goes from here will definitely surprise the viewer. I know it surprised me!

Tune into 'Best Ink 3' next Wednesday at 10/9c!

Read more about: Joe Capobianco Hannah Aitchison

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