Ink Master Episode 5
So, here we are in the 5th week of the series, and six artists remain. They are all talented, no doubt, but it is pretty obvious who the final three are going to be: Shane, Tommy, and either Josh or James will be on the stage at the end.
Scott Campbell, tattoo artist to New York’s celebrity elite, stopped by to serve as guest judge. This week the criteria would be color, something that Shane O’Neill has not demonstrated ability with yet.
In yet another odd challenge the artists were tasked with painting a prosthetic leg for amputees, each of whom has a different horror story for how they lost their limb Considering how expensive these limbs are (one guy said his cost $95, 000) bad work is going to cause some real problems.
Everyone did good work, but there were some notable stand-outs: Léa, Bili, Shane, and Josh all delivered powerful pieces that were discussed by the judges. Josh color-bombed his canvas with a New Skool tattoo style that wowed the owner, while Shane did a more reserved palette of three colors to make a highly detailed dinosaur to appeal to the owner’s kid.
It was a classy move that scored him some points with not only the judges, but people at home. There were some people (Josh, especially) who felt that Shane could have done more, but that is the way shit goes.
American Traditional (the province of Oliver Peck) is the style that the artists would have to work in this week. Known for big, bold outlines and a small color palette using simple designs this style is extremely important to American tattoo tradition. These restrictions were definitely a problem for Bili who, once again, demonstrates that he doesn’t have what it takes to be an Ink Master as he rails against the style because it is “too basic” for his abilities.
Léa, on the other hand, had a difficult canvas that wanted too much work for the allotted time. James also had a difficult canvas who rejected his tattoo at the last minute, forcing him to redesign.
For their part, the judges were less-than-impressed with the quality of work being turned in. Oliver has been doing this for two decades, and he is justifiably proud of his style so he doesn’t have time for excuses about how American Traditional is “too basic” or “restrictive” of artistic license.
The real point of contention, however, came in when Bili Vegas nonchalantly mentions that he always uses his time of birth (5:55) whenever he tattoos a clock. This bit of arrogance would have gotten him immediately fired by Scott Campbell who doesn’t tolerate that kind of thing.
Shane got hammered for his tattoo because while it is technically and thematically correct, the color composition was way off. Without the heavy blacks and bold colors to set it off, it doesn’t fit as an American Traditional. The pleasure the other artists got from this stern critique was unabashed.
Tops and Bottoms
Bili, Léa, Josh, and James found themselves in front of the judges for the elimination.
Josh came out top of the heap with an American Traditional that wowed all of the judges.
Choosing between which of these is the worse tattoo, I found myself in the same position as Dave Navarro, siding with Bili Vegas. When Oliver and Chris discuss the actual elements and standards for American Traditional, however, I found my feelings changed somewhat.
Oliver described Léa’s as a bad Traditional, but both he and Chris agreed that what Bili turned in didn’t actually constitute a Traditional. And it’s not hard to agree with their assessment since Bili did nothing but express disdain and contempt for this style of work.