Best Ink Blog

Winner's Chat with Karly: "I Didn't Think I had a Shot in Hell!"

Watch Pete Announce the Winner of 'Best Ink 3'!

1. Sabina Kelley and Laird Hamilton.

Sabina's Top 5 Highlights from 'Best Ink 3'

Darnell's Deadly Sins Flash Challenge from Episode 1.

Darnell's Exit Interview: "Karly Deserved It"

Brother and sister!

Hannah's Top 5 Highlights from 'Best Ink 3'

Judge's Corner: Joe's Final Blog of Season 3!

1. All the 'Best Ink' Season 3 artists!

Joe's Top 5 Highlights from 'Best Ink 3'

Deadly Sins Flash Challenge.

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

The Final Ink Challenge

Darnell's Flash Challenge

The Street Shop Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Judge's Corner: It Felt Awful to Send Willy Home

Willy's Deadly Sins Flash Challenge.

Willy's Exit Interview: Being Eliminated Sucks

Alayna's Flash Challenge.

The Demolition Derby Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Darnell's Ink Challenge.

The 3D Photorealism Ink Challenge! (PHOTOS)

Judge's Corner: Joe Blogs about Shock, Awe, and Lara's Fatal Unpopularity

Alayna's Ink Challenge.

The Shock Art Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

Darnell's Shock Flash Challenge.

The Shock Art Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Lara's Deadly Sins Flash Challenge.

Lara's Exit Interview: "I Live to Piss You Off"

Alayna's Ink Challenge (top 2)

The Pin-Up Couples Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

The contestants and their significant others (and Darnell's blind date) gather for a photo shoot.

The Couples Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Joe's Deadly Sins Flash Challenge.

Joe's Exit Interview: I'm Not Cocky...I'm Amped

Judge's Corner: Sabina Blogs about True Pin-Up Tattoos and Joe's Demise

Sabina Kelley

Sabina Kelley Hits the Beach for Best Ink

Judge's Corner: Hannah Blogs about Surfboards, Lara's Mandala Fetish, and Romeo

Deadly Sins Flash Challenge

Romeo's Exit Interview: "Lara Should Have Gone Home Instead of Me"

Darnell's Ink Challenge

The Ocean-Inspired Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

Contestants had to paint surfboards in the Ocean Flash Challenge.

The Surfboard Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Judge's Corner: Joe Blogs about Women in the Industry, Biomechanical Tattoos, and Danny's Goodbye

Meet Danny! And check out his Deadly Sins Flash Challenge.

Danny's Exit Interview: No More Tattoo Competitions!

Darnell won his face-off against Willy.

The Biomechanical Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

Alayna's Flash Challenge

The Biomechanical Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

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Pete Wentz Is Thinking About Getting Married Again

Judge's Corner: Sabina Blogs About Sci-Fi Stuff, Darnell's Weepy Moment, and May May's Demise

May May's Deady Sins Flash Challenge.

May May's Exit Interview: "I Couldn't Handle the Pressure"

Alayna's Ink Challenge tattoo.

The Sci-Fi Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

It's the Sci-Fi Flash Challenge!

The Sci-Fi Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

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Watch Pete Wentz Find Out He Won a People's Choice Award

The Deadly Sins Flash Challenge

Exit Interview with Anthony: I Wish I Hadn't Been So "Laid Back"

Darnell's Ink Challenge.

The Japanese Ink Challenge (PHOTOS)

Alayna's Flash Challenge

The Anime Flash Challenge (PHOTOS)

Judge's Corner: Hannah Blogs About Danny's Tantrum, Alayna's Comeback, and Anthony's Farewell

Winner's Chat with Karly: "I Didn't Think I had a Shot in Hell!"

After weeks of anticipation and no clear front-runner, Karly Cleary officially won Season 3 of Best Ink! Scroll down to read Karly's winning interview, where we asked her all about her favorite piece of the season, about who she's still friends with from the show, and about what life is like after winning Best Ink...against all her expectations! (Um...Would you believe she didn't think she could even make it on the show?) See what Karly has to say!

Congratulations! Going in, did you think you would make it as far as you did?

No. Not at all! I couldn’t even believe I made it on the show. Every week that I made it further was great, and I achieved what I wanted to achieve, which was to represent myself in a genuine light and also showcase some of the best work of my career.  As corny as it sounds, it wouldn’t have mattered to me if I won at all! I think toward the end there it could have easily have been any of us, but it’s still a game and there could only be one.

Has your career blown up since being on the show?

I had always been booked in advance as of a couple of years ago. I always kept it 4-6 weeks in advance, but now its months in advance -- and it’s only climbing every day! It’s overwhelming in a good way. I’m full-blown full-time either in the studio [Davidian Tattoos] or drawing at home. I’m working my ass off!

What are you going to do with the prize money?

I’m probably going do something very boring and put it away [laughs]. You can’t help but splurge a little bit. My husband and I need new cars, and I’d love to treat my family to a vacation, but we’re going to be sensible with it.   

What inspired you to be on Best Ink?

Well, I’m a fan of the show. One day I was online, reading more about it, and I just followed a link that said I could apply. I was embarrassed because I didn’t think I had a shot in hell. I didn’t even tell my husband I had applied at first! Even during the show process, I told producers that I’m probably too boring for TV! But, I guess you need the even-keeled personalities to even out the…strong personalities.

We heard your husband’s reaction over the phone on the finale! It was so cute! How did the rest of your family react when you heard you’d won?

It was actually awesome…we had booked a trip earlier that year. My whole family was going up, and of course I had no idea from week to week if I was going to be back in time -- which I wasn’t. So he was in the middle of that vacation, so he had my whole family just on the edge of their seat all day waiting to hear what the outcome was. I was able to hear everyone’s reaction in the too. Just sharing it with my husband and kids…I don’t even have the words. Everyone wants their family to be proud of them!  

What tattoo were you most proud of this season?

I would have to say the angler fish! Not only did I think it was the strongest tattoo that I did, it was my third win in a row, and I won the Flash Challenge that day too.

Aside from winning, what did you get out of being on Best Ink?

The people that I met -- even though we spent a relatively short time with one another -- we went through a very unique experience together. The bonds that we built on the show, I can’t even imagine it ever being broken by anything. Now I have friends and colleagues all over the country.  I talk to Alayna all the time, and Darnell sometimes too. Danny is really close to me geographically and he’s coming to a party to watch the finale with me! He’s like my little brother. I talk to Romeo, and he works at Alayna’s shop now.

What’s next for your career and family?

I have a son and a stepson, and they’re eight months apart. They’re in middle school, they’re not by any means all grown up, but they’re more independent now than they ever have been, so I feel like they’re at a perfect age for me to start focusing more on my career, which I wanted to do but I had different priorities. After winning Best Ink, I couldn’t think of a better opportunity to make that transition into calling myself a tattoo artist. I always felt like tattooing was still a part-time thing, it was on the sidelines. But now, I can’t wait to do all the traveling and take advantage of the opportunities this industry has to offer -- and the kids are old enough to come with me! 

Guess who inspired Karly? None other than Season 2 winner Teresa Sharpe! Watch Karly's interview below.

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