Exit Chat with DJ: Not an Easy Goodbye

By Lauren Zupkus

To call the competition between DJ and Teresa close would be an understatement. A favorite with the Best Ink 2 judges and viewers alike, DJ never failed to impress at the Flash and Ink challenges--- in fact, he won more than any other contestant. Scroll on to read the exit chat and watch a bonus exit video with the runner-up that rocked our world. 

You made it all the way to the Final 2 and had some steep competition. Did you agree with the judges’ decision to crown Teresa Best Ink winner?

I think it was definitely between Teresa and I the whole way through. I thought with her not hitting the challenges, spelling something wrong in a tattoo and her being in the bottom which I never was, I felt confident that I was going to win it. We both produced great tattoos throughout the competition, I did exactly what the challenges called for, while she did what she felt was "just a good tattoo." I stepped out of my comfort zone, while she stayed in hers.  I love Teresa and we remain close friends, win or lose we both respect each others work.  

Seems like Joe kind of had a soft spot for you. Have you been in touch at all? 

I've looked up to Joe's work since the beginning of my career 16 years ago. He's an amazing guy and I definitely respected his opinion throughout the competition. We talk all the time and he's helping me become more recognized in the tattoo community, which is what I really wanted from all this. 

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

I did my best with the spot and skin that I was given. 

What would you say was your favorite tattoo that you did this season? 

My favorite tattoo was the second one I did on Abby of the hand with the hurricane around it reaching for the light. It was the tattoo that I had the most freedom with and didn't have to turn some depressing story into a tattoo. 

What was the toughest Flash or Ink challenge for you? 

The first flash challenge was hardest for me, because I'm deathly afraid of heights. Other than that none of them were out of the ordinary. I'm used to painting and working fast. 

If you could get a tattoo from anyone in the cast, who would you hit up? 

I'm already planning on taking a trip out to work with Teresa and get tattooed while I'm there. 

What have you been up to recently? Are you back at home with family? 

You name it, I'm doing it... moving into a new house, sold our old one, booked out over 6 months, taking trips to conventions and visiting family. My stepfather just passed away from cancer on 5/31. My art shows and website's up and running (www.djtambe.com.) I have shirts for sale, prints, sponsorship with bishops rotary, and in the midst of all this I'm making time for my family and friends. I'm hoping to get picked up by other companies in the future. I'm thinking big things for the Tambes' future.

What did you take away most from your experiences on Best Ink?

I think that I should have just done the style of tattoos that I do now throughout the competition and maybe it would be Teresa answering these questions. I've become close friends with Teresa, Jerod, Tylor, Joe, Ralphy and Sabina and that's definitely something that I'm glad I'm leaving with. Also after 15+ years FINALLY being recognized for my knowledge in tattooing and art. Also showing diversity, passion and 100% commitment for my career. Thanks to my family, friends, clients and fans for believing in me and the constant support you have shown. It helps me to keep focusing and continuing to both push and challenge myself to be better at what I do. My hat goes off to you all! 

Check out DJ's video exit chat below! 


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