Judge's Corner: Joe Blogs about Shock, Awe, and Lara's Fatal Unpopularity

By Joe Capobianco

Ding Dong, Baby. Ding Dong...

Ok, let’s start out with this week’s Flash Challenge. I was pretty jazzed about this one for two reasons. One, I dig on the idea of "Shock Art.” It pushes the artists and the viewer in directions they’re not cool with. And I got to hang out with and introduce my good friend and super talented Matthew Bone.

I think he picked the right winner in the challenge based on the overall feel and look of the pieces. Like me, he leaned more towards an illustrator’s feel to the art, and the gals’ art (Karly, and Alayna) had a much more readable feel, and just enough of a hint of shock to push them ahead of the others.

Back at the studio, and artist lounge: I can kind of understand the artists’ feelings towards Lara. It’s been my experience since Season 1 that the artists do tend to gravitate to like-minded individuals. Lara unfortunately has done a pretty good job at separating herself from the others.

Now onto the challenge. Like every challenge up to now, I think the skins task the artists as much as us judges. There are sometimes weird or contradictory requests that keep the artists on their toes. I will admit that the other judges and I were a bit let down by most of the "Shock Art" as I think the artists’ versions tended to be a bit pedestrian as far as I was concerned.

I feel Lara had a bit of a no-brainer for the challenge, and kind of dropped the ball. She blamed time and her skin. But I feel that the right drawing, done in a manner that lent itself to the feel of the challenge could have made the situation more manageable. But, she chose to work in a drawing style she's comfortable with, and that just kind of left us less than blown away.

Darnell had a really nice clean technical tattoo that set him apart from the rest. Fun and just shocking enough.

Willy really did a killer job technically. He worked with some great lighting, and textures to put him just over Darnell in the end.

Unfortunately Alayna's was just top simple. While it was a nice tattoo. It was just that: nice.

It bummed me out that Karly got such a silly tattoo idea from her skin, and that Darnell and Willy decided to put her in the Bottom 2. I understand what they were trying to do, but I don't think that politics and strategy should really play in this. Artist against artist. That’s what I wanna see!

Regardless, Willy, and Darnell took a huge chance,  because based on the challenge, Karly very nearly went home. Lara's was most certainly more shocking. In the end, though,  we judges are also looking at the raw talent behind these works, and we all felt that Karly's was a much stronger tattoo in the end. The boys definitely lucked out with their gamble of keeping Alayna out of the Bottom 2.

On a personal note here: I know the artists and a sh**ton of the fans of the show really felt that Lara needed to go home sooner.

I feel this needs to be said: most tattooers go their entire career trying to create a style that is recognizable as them -- something that people the world over will seek them out for. This is true for both Hannah and I. And we are both lucky enough to have found that with what we do on a daily basis in our shops. Since Season 1, I've always stressed to the artists that we the judges are really looking for their personality in what they draw and tattoo. But, I've also made it clear to them that if what they call their "Style" sucks, we’re going to call them on that.

Lara had a style that was less than amazing. But up until the end, she didn’t create what we considered the worst, or even a bad tattoo. Did we sometimes dislike or outright hate her drawing, and tattoo style -- hell yes. But was it the worst tattoo? Well she made it this far didn't she?  

Until next time. Remember it’s gonna suck to see any of these remaining artists left get sent home. My condolences up front if you don't agree with us – but hell, were the judges, you guys are just along for the ride.


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