Episode 4: Rib tattoos. Tough one. Difficult for a client to sit, and they hurt, a lot. There are certain parts of the body that just hurt more due to nerves, difficulty, and awkwardness of sitting. And the ribs in my opinion rate in like the top three toughest areas.
We see this with Alayna, and her skin Bleach. It bums me out to have seen Bleach quit on Alayna. Alayna was incredibly professional on putting her skin’s needs ahead of the competition. It’s been my experience that you really can't talk an individual into sitting better, especially when that skin has made up their mind that They Are Done. The viewer needs to consider the stress that the skin and tattooers are under. Tattooing the ribs on a regular day is tough. Add cameras, interviews, long hours of waiting, and general BS, and you stack the deck against both skin and tattooer. So I don't blame Alayna for giving in to her skin’s wishes of quitting. Better an incomplete tattoo over a sh**ty tattoo.
[embed:render:file:334936:full]As for tops: It was a tough one. I think that the other judges and I chose Darnell, Joe, and Karly based on the fact that they were truly the most solid tattoos: simply well-drawn and original. We chose Darnell as the top based on the simple fact that it was a great, fun new school tattoo. He finally showed us who he is as an individual, allowing a bit of his personal flair show in this piece.
Now to our boy Danny and his issues this week. As the tattooer, I say that you have the power over a client to some degree, not because I’m on some bulls**t high-and-mighty power trip, and I don’t believe that whatever the artists says, goes. However, as the tattooer, you are the professional and therefore you know better what will work and just plain old what will look like sh*t. When a tattooer comes at a client with little to no confidence of what he or she is doing, of course that client is going to second guess that artist. This is the case here. I call Danny a kid, because in this case, he came off as just that. A kid playing a game for adults. I'd like to think that he learned a bit of a lesson here, and it’s something he'll take home with him for the rest of his career. But then again, I can be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time!
A lot of fans and friends of mine think that it’s f**ked up that the top artists pick the bottom artists in this competition. Honestly, I don't agree. Does this part of the show invite unwarranted drama for the competition? Sometimes yes. But I think this week’s bottom 3 reflects how serious some of the artists are about the competition, and how they are willing and qualified to judge over their peers. Having said that, perhaps strategy was Darnell's reasoning for putting Alayna down there in the first place. All artists know that tattooing the ribs is hard, and they’ve seen Alayna’s abilities. Unfortunately I feel that Alayna was put in the bottom simply because she didn't complete her tattoo.
Now to this week’s eliminated competitor. Like May May's tattoo which is basically a stylized pin-up, I think double goes for Amy's poorly conceived "new school" tattoo. Just not pushing enough boundaries of line weight (thick to thin), color balance -- and the overriding fact of the matter is, it was just a poor drawing to start with. Danny's was poorly laid out, and he used bad judgment by letting his client dictate bad ideas for his piece, but we chose Amy based on the fact that she felt comfortable drawing, and tattooing this Fibonacci Sequence. As everyone knows by this point, don't claim to be an expert, or say you love to tattoo something, if you’re just not really good at it. You will get called out.
I was bummed to see Amy go. I really thought she came on strong, and was going to be a front runner throughout. But one thing that being head judge of Best Ink has shown me: it don't matter what pre-conceived notions or first impressions you have as a judge during this competition. That all goes out the window when that little red clock starts its countdown.