Amy Zager was the first contestant to win anything on Best Ink 3 with her Deadly Sins Flash Challenge art piece. But, her meteoric rise was cut short. In Episode 3, she inked a failed collaborative tattoo with May May, and by Episode 4, she was nixed from the competition entirely. But, she's holding her head high (as some of her cohorts argued: a little too high sometimes!) and taking her lessons from the show on the road. Click "more" for the full exit interview with Amy!
What have you been up to since filming Best Ink?
I've been right back to work in Chicago and didn't miss a beat. Winter time tends to be a slower season but I have gotten such an incredible response from fans of the show and a ton of new clients. I really do love my job and couldn't be happier or more honored to have my work be so appreciated.
Did you agree with the judges’ decision to keep Alayna and Danny, and to send you home?
That elimination must have been a really tough call. Danny's design wasn't truly his own, and Alayna didn't get the opportunity to finish hers. My tattoo was my own design and I used every second of the time we were given. It sucks to have been sent home on that, but it's a competition and I slipped up on that challenge.
Describe the challenges of completing your new school tattoo.
My client wanted an abstract fractal design, which has no outline -- or any line at all -- and is very technical and difficult to translate to a tattoo. Rather than suggesting we go a different route, I was determined to work that kind of geometric imagery into a new school tattoo with the characteristic bold lines and satisfy both my client and the challenge.
My sketch turned out well despite being so randomly abstract, but in tattooing it, I found again and again that I wasn't getting the depth needed to make the shapes really pop, and the pain of a rib tattoo started hitting my client halfway through the challenge, which only increases the stress as an artist. This was a tattoo that would have benefited from a second session to blend in darker colors and bring the depth and contrast together.
If you could go back and do the tattoo differently, would you?
I definitely would have suggested an alternate design to showcase my skill and rock a new school challenge.
Do you have any other thoughts about your time on the show?
Competing on this show was a blast for me. The challenges are designed to yank out an artist's safety net of having time and privacy to create and really shake up their element. The Flash Challenges were fun, almost like playtime to mess around with the medium in a different way or in a crazy setting. The Ink Challenges were an endurance challenge since I usually don't have clients sit for more than four hours at a time. Six hours of non-stop work is intense! I'm proud of the work I brought to the competition given all the crazy situations, but definitely can't say they were my best planned efforts -- we simply didn't have the time!
Some contestants described you as over-confident or (in May May’s case) condescending – would you agree?
I could certainly be seen as over-confident, simply because I am indeed a very confident person. I don't do things halfway and that has served me in many excellent ways in life… and also in poor ways. Fact is, I know I may screw up, but at least at that time I spoke or felt or acted a certain way with absolute conviction. Of course I never meant to be condescending to May May. It's not my style to go out of my way to be a dick to someone, but I can understand how it would have come across, especially with how little we knew each other and how stressful the competitive atmosphere can be.
What did you take away from your experience on Best Ink?
After my experience on Best Ink, I had a huge burst of motivation to get back to work at home and dive in to pushing my craft. The judges really do take time to evaluate those pieces, far more than the bit you get to see on TV. Hearing their critiques of everyone's work gave me a ton of tips and tricks to bring back home, and lots to think about in terms of composition, technique, and bringing my heart into the designs.
What’s in your tattooing future?
Doing more bigger and better tattoos! Check out my website for my full portfolio and contact info, and give me some love on Facebook. My appointment book is filling up into 2014, but I still have a bit of time for walk-ins at the Tattoo Factory in Chicago!
Watch Amy's exit interview video!