Exit Chat with Melvin Todd: UV Ink Sucks

By Fawnia Soo Hoo

Things were looking promising for Melvin after he won the first flash challenge (you know, after almost dying), but then his fellow contestants voted him down into the bottom three, not once, but twice. Looks like the asymmetrical chest tat and UV-challenge did the Atlanta-based tattoo artist in.

But we figured we’d give Melvin the last word to tell us more about that harrowing slip, how he spent his flash challenge winning dollarz and the reason he thinks he was eliminated.

Best Ink 2: Everyone wants to know: what was going through your head when you fell out of your seat during the graffiti art challenge?

Melvin Todd: You ever had that dream where you step off one random curb and your heart drops before waking up, because you know you are about to hit the ground? Well, it was nothing like that. This was real life fear! I just knew my life was over until those straps became taut. I will never encounter an adrenaline rush that intense again, I'm sure. I think that's why I won now that I look back at it. I had way too much energy when I climbed back up to the portrait. Shout out to the amazing harness crew. I knew I was safe, honestly.

How did you spend your winning flash challenge prize money?

I started LovelessSeptember.com with it. True story. I like to let my money make me more money. Plus I heard [Episode 1 guest and street artist] Justin Bua is going to start online art classes soon. With some of the money I make, I'm going to enroll. You guys couldn't tell by the edits, but I was geeking out over meeting one of my art heroes. 

Was your “skin” in as much pain as he looked to be on TV?

I'm going to go with "more pain.” He was taking it great until we started shading the middle. I don't think he quite knew what to expect, as it is definitely one of the harsher spots to be tattooed. He needed a few breaks, but honestly I salute the guy. In a regular setting, I would have broken a tattoo of that size up into sessions. It was really cool of him to withstand it all so that I would have a fighting chance to not be eliminated. 

In the beginning of the second episode, two interesting points were briefly touched upon by you all: It can be a challenge for black and female tattoo artists out there. What have your own personal experiences been like?

With many circumstances in this world, it can be a challenge to overcome certain stereotypes. I guess the tattoo world is no different. With that said, more and more artists are breaking down these stigmas. Women are now some of the best tattooers in the world. I mean, look at Hannah. She's easily one of the top tattooers in the world. Even on the African American side, you have artists like Miya Bailey, Craig Foster and Tanane Whitfield, who are so good that no one just puts them in the role of just a "black" tattoo artist. No one can deny sheer talent, so it's good that we rather prove ourselves than be given a handout.

You ended up in the bottom three two times in a row – what did it feel like to be put there by your fellow contestants?

I don't blame them, as crazy as that sounds. I was a threat, simple as that. I was an easy pick to make it to the end honestly, but I kept hitting stumbling blocks early in the competition. Why not use that as an opportunity to knock out someone who could come back and do amazing things if they hit their stride? It was smart to keep artists there that they wouldn't have to worry about later. It's a game; I just got caught at the wrong end of it unfortunately. I shouldn't have been down there both times.

Do you agree with the final decision?

Of course not, but I guess I was hard headed in my dedication to my skins. Joe said his main critique was that I went too big. So what did I do? Go big one more time! Plus in the black light challenge, I did exactly what they wanted us to do and make two different tattoos in the day and night.

I still find it weird I was eliminated so early because my designs were strong and I clearly wasn't the worst artist. I would've done some pretty epic pieces if I got to stay, and it sucks that they couldn't see that. I'm sure the viewers will think different. My bottom three picks were different than the one's that went down, but I guess you guys will never know who.

Here’s your chance to defend both those tattoos – go!

My skin really wanted the owl to be front facing, so I had no issue with that. I hate drawing the same thing twice, so I think it was pretty deliberate that I wasn't going for a mirrored image. I didn't know it would be judged so harshly about symmetry. As long as it was the same length from the middle, I thought it was cool. In the end my skin loved it and we are actually planning to finish up the tattoo. There is nothing to fix, we're just going to keep adding to the epicness.

As for the second one, I elaborated on that one above. Why ask us to do something and then not punish contestants for just ignoring the main requirement. They told me I should have used more black light ink too. Personally, I didn't want to even use as much as I did. That ink sucks. Guess I'm glad I'm not the go-to person for such a weird gimmick. 

If you could do anything differently on the show, what would it have been?

I should have gone smaller on the designs. It would have given me more time honestly. I could have taken more time on details that would have made a bigger difference setting me apart from the other contestants. In a normal tattoo setting that clock is not a factor, so I got to see that it was my biggest challenge was actually the time limit.

Tell us what you’re working on now.

My brand, Loveless Society, is my main focus. I try and become better artistically just to watch that grow. I've attracted some pretty amazing people in my life from it and want to continue to do so. My shop, City of Ink, is where anyone can find me practicing my craft. Why we don't have a show yet still baffles me. It's way more than a tattoo shop, it's a lifestyle. And as always, I'm always striving to become a better artist. Being eliminated didn't get me down. ... it actually motivated me. When it's all said and done. ... I'll be the best. Don't believe me, just watch!!! 

Keep up with Melvin on twitter @MelvinTodd_LS and hear Melvin tell you for himself:


Recap Episode 2 with awesome pics

Watch Melvin battle Carolyn in Redemption

Best Ink Snapshots: 14 Hunka Hunka pics of Tylor

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