Jon on Best Ink 103: I decided to play it safe.

Now that Roman is gone, my biggest competition is London.

My inspiration for the Flash Challenge was the hardships that some artists go through when they're doing their tattoo apprenticeships. The most difficult part of this flash challenge was the materials we were given. We had a toothy canvas, sharpies, glue and flowers. As you can imagine, with those materials it is difficult to produce good pieces of art you can really be proud of. Also, we were under the hot California sun for a long time.

I was fed up with the flash challenges at this point and I wanted to give up so I didn’t fault Roman for giving up on the challenge. But I realized quickly in the competition you just need to do your best, produce something, and move on to the Ink Challenge where it really matters.

I've done plenty of commemorative tattoos in my career. One of my favorites, I did on a good friend and client. He asked for a tattoo of a WWII knife that his grandfather used in the war. On the leather sleeve of the knife, his grandfather had carved his initials and a really cool pin-up.

It's kind of intimidating whenever Joe comes around while we’re tattooing; he's an amazing tattoo artist that I have a lot of respect for. So when he gives you a critique, you better take it into consideration and make a change on the fly if necessary. If not, it will come back to bite you during elimination.

In the end, I was happy with my tattoo. The only thing I would have liked to do was do it in full color instead of black and grey with color accents. The tattoo was pretty large and if I had chosen to do it in full color, I don’t think I would have been able to finish in time. So I decided to play it safe and stick to black and grey with accents. During the judging I was really surprised by Aaron's comments of my tattoo. I made sure to put in all the elements my client wanted in her tattoo so that she would be completely satisfied. But he felt that it was too many individual elements in one tattoo.

As a friend, I definitely didn't want Roman to go home. Out of everyone on the show, he and I clicked instantly. Like a long lost cousin I never knew I had. But as a competitor, he being one of the strongest tattoo artists with the most experience, I knew by him leaving it would definitely keep the playing field open. Even Roman hadn’t left the competition I don’t think I would have been eliminated. My tattoo was definitely not the worst tattoo for that challenge. If Roman hadn’t chosen to leave I would have been in the bottom with someone else who definitely deserved to be there. Not Roman. At this point in the competition my mouth had definitely created some bad blood between some of the other tattoo artists. I knew that some people were voting for who they didn't like and not who did the worst tattoos because they would never vote for themselves.

Now that Roman is gone, my biggest competition is London. This dude can tattoo his ass off. All of his tattoos are super clean, well saturated and very well designed.

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