Wow, seems like 12 weeks just flew by, and here we are announcing our winner! This particular season for us judges was such a change up from previous seasons, simply based on the fact that we never really felt there were any clear front-runners. I think that the young age of the tattooers, and their time in the trade was really what kept us on the edge of our seats week after week.
I was happy, and a bit surprised to see our Top 3 for this last episode. While I half expected Darnell and Karly, Alayna really came through on last week’s Ink challenge, and took away the spot that I honestly thought Willy was going to occupy.
Getting right to the finale: I so dug the Flash Challenge this week. I think that it’s so important for any tattoo artist to have Street Shop experience. I was a bit surprised to see the artists’ apprehension upon hearing what was expected of them upon entering the shop. I was hoping they all would all go into tattooer mode and kill it. That having been said, I was very happy with the end results. I think that every single one of them worked their asses off and performed fantastically. I think any shop owner would have been happy to have those three working for them that day.
But unfortunately we could only have two in the final challenge. It was pretty clear to us judges, that while Alayna did a fantastic job, her five tattoos just weren't as on point as Darnell's and Karly's.
We all had a difficult time saying goodbye to Alayna. She's a great technical tattooer, has fantastic drawing skills, and one heck of an imagination. She hit a few bumps along the way, but for the most part she literally finessed her way this far with what I think is a style all her own. That’s a gal with a great career ahead of her.
Honestly I was a bit shocked by what the show was asking of the artists. A back piece. Not a challenge that should be taken lightly in the real world, and especially for this finale. Then to place such insane restrictions on them: a few hours to consult, draw, and then a mere 12 hours tattooing...a tall order to ask of even the best of us.
Here is where we saw the differences of style, and thought process of each individual. Darnell's tattoo (for most of us judges) was lacking in its layout. Any tattoo that covers such a large portion of the body needs to have a solid lay out. If the layout is weak and reads poorly, it’s going to reflect poorly on the entire piece. That’s kind of what happened here. You had a final piece that was lacking a good foundation. By creating more perspective with different sized subjects in his piece, it would have added to the depth. On top of that, trying to cover so much ground, he was forced to fork looser than we'd seen him do thus far. Above all things, I want to see a solid, clean tattoo. It was Hannah, and my opinion both that a lot of the color and shading just wasn't solid enough to constitute a fantastic tattoo.
Watching Darnell kind of grow, and come out of his shell a bit as a person and an artist was very inspiring. He really just ran with every challenge that was thrown at him and did his damnedest. When we told him it wasn't good enough, he got better, not bitter. He showed a lot of character, and above all talent. Like every previous season of Best Ink, sending that last person home is as rough as it gets for us judges.
Now onto our winner this season. Karly’s back piece in my opinion, while maybe not as grand of an attempt as Darnell's, showed her cunning in creating what appeared to cover a lot of space. She was able to concentrate on all of the things that we judges want to see. A strong foundation (good drawing), solid lines, smooth shading, good use, and saturation of color, and above all: style. That’s what she came in showing, and that’s what sent her home as this season’s winner.
Karly came out like a shy little lamb, but in the long run allowed her talent to speak for her, and competed like a lion. She led with her style, and as we all know, she has more than enough of that to have been voted winner in quite a few of the challenges.
Till next time...