Up in Yo Grill

This season it seems the producers wanted to amp the drama a bit, so they found some silly, silly, silly fucking tattoo artists. I’m looking right at you, Mystical Mike, with your Emo hair and your ridiculous syntax. Every artists is aware this kid lacks skill, and he tries to cover for it by claiming his imagination outweighs his skill which can be said about pretty much anyone who sucks at something they enjoy doing.

Another issue is Josh Hibbard’s decision to take up Kay Kutta‘s baton and run screaming with it. Between him trying to get people to doubt themselves and Mystical Mike being an annoying asshole, this is going to be a rough season for a bit.

Flash Challenge

This week the judges will be testing precision, something some of the contestants struggled with last week. To keep it interesting the artists would be working in teams of three designing and cutting out grills for muscle cars in three short hours. Three-time NFL Pro-Bowler Chris Johnson came by to be guest judge.

Ego clashes on some teams threaten their work, while others work very seamlessly. Tatu Baby knows nothing about cars, so she made sure she got herself a good team in Jime and ES. Kyle and Craig got stuck with Mystical Mike while Maddie was given to Made Rich and Chris.

Car #3

This beast took the prize. Don’t act like you don’t understand that, either.


Elimination Tattoo


Since precision is the task at hand, the judges want photo-realistic anatomical tattoos. Josh was given the hardest canvas, a woman who wanted an armpit tattoo. Rather than get upset about it, he approached the problem like a salesman and began working her, trying to get her to change her mind. When that failed, he tucked in and did the work she wanted.

Tops and Bottoms

Craig, Chris, Maddie, and Mike found themselves on the carpet at the end of the episode. Once again, only one of the four had turned in quality work.

Anatomical by Craig Foster

Anatomical by Craig Foster

Of the other three, Mike turned in work that was so bad the judges were clearly questioning his sanity by the end.

Anatomical by Mystical Mike

Allegedly this is an anatomical tattoo by legendary EMT turned tattoo artist Mystical Mike

It was a close call between Mike and Chris because neither of them did what they were told. It was clear, however, that Mike had no chance of survival, neither does Maddie. Guess who’s gone next episode?

New Canvasses: Ink Master Returns

Ink Master, the best tattoo competition on TV returned last night for it’s third season. Spike brought sixteen tattoo artists to New York to see who was worthy of the title Ink Master. Once again the judges would be Oliver Peck, Chris NuñezDave Navarro, and the viewers at home. Tatu Baby got her second chance that way, her experiences last season hopefully giving her an edge on the others.

This time out, however, the human canvasses will also get to vote on the worst tattoo of the day, an important new wrinkle that will put a second contestant up for elimination each time.

Flash Challenge

The show opens with the contestants arriving at one of New York‘s correctional facilities. They are then told that in order to test their flexibility, they will all be tattooing in the prison, and that they would only be allowed a single needle. Prison Style tattooing, in other words. Making this the very first challenge the judges are clearly testing the fundamentals of a tattoo artists ability since mistakes will be glaringly obvious.


Ally Lee – Oliver thought her tattoo was too large, telling her that single-needle calls for smaller, more detailed work. Not a bad assessment.

Jackie Jennings – Another 10 year vet, her opening effort was a skull and crossbones that maximized the limitations of the single-needle, earning her praise from Chris.

Chris May – No single-pass outlines, but they didn’t tear him up either.

Jason Clay Dunn – Looking like he just got off the bus from Portland, he opens the show with a black rose that earned him praise from Chris due to the single-pass he did when he applied it . 

Jime Litwalk – With twenty years of experience, this New Skool pioneer is going to be one to watch. New Skool artists don’t tend to impress me, so I will reserve judgement. Still, his opening tattoo was top of the heap.

Frank McManus – This guy looks way too young to be competing for this title. His first tattoo looked rough, Oliver calling it overworked.

James Danger – A self-taught artist he somehow never learned that anytime a vehicle/flag/animal is tattooed onto a person, it is always depicted as advancing. Otherwise it looks like the tattoo is trying to escape from the person wearing it.

Josh Hibbard – With 10 years of experience he doesn’t really look like a tattoo artist, despite the ink crawling up out of his collar. His canvas wanted a Japanese demon umbrella. No, seriously, that’s what he asked for.

Demon Umbrella by Joshua Hibbard

Fuck the Japanese can make anything weird.

Kyle Dunbar – After twelve years he apparently learned his craft and for the past six years he has been delivering good tattoos. The one for this challenge would be one of the better ones on display.

ES – A 16 year veteran of the industry he prefers the Black and Gray style. Not surprisingly he seems comfortable with the single-needle and his hourglass/dagger tattoo is definitely one of the better ones.

Maddie LaBelle – She draws a hideously bad spider tattoo, apparently because when she heard “prison style” she thought they meant “shitty.”

Maddie LaBelle

I don’t know what this guy did to society, but Maddie LaBelle is sure making him pay for it.

Made Rich – Another artist who has never done single needle, the judges were not happy with the outlining for his playing cards with script tattoo.

Joey Hamilton – Photorealism is his strong suit, and he completely slams this challenge with an excellent skull.

Craig Foster – Another New Skool artist, he produced an inconsistently done cross that looked rather lackluster.

Mystical Mike – A very young artist he says he has never done a single needle tattoo. Maybe that explains why his tattoo was so boring and amateurish.

Tatu Baby – Back for a second chance at being Ink Master, she has no excuses if she ever finds herself on the bottom.

In the end the judges gave the win to Joey, giving him the power to assign canvasses at the first elimination.

Elimination Tattoo

Since flexibility is the first test, the judges set the artists to doing cover-ups. And the canvasses, in another surprise twist, were the same ones from the Flash Challenge. To keep himself from being accused of sabotaging anyone, Joey keeps the same pairings from earlier. Strangely no one wanted their Flash tattoos covered, although Mike came close with his canvas, Hiram, who was not even remotely pleased with his.

Tops and Bottoms

Jime  has to deal with a canvas that wants a dragon tattoo, something that no one has yet successfully pulled off at Ink Master. Maddie also decides to do a dragon as part of her cover-up.

Tops and Bottoms 

One of the weirdest moments in the history of the show comes during the critique when Mystical Mike tries to defend his tattoo by saying he only brought one machine with him. This floors both Chris and Oliver who cannot understand why anyone would go to a competition for $100,000 and only bring one tattoo machine.

Tatu Baby found herself in front of the judges with Mike, Maddie, and Frank. Not the sort of company you want to keep on this show, and I think it’s obvious that the latter trio won’t be around long.

Gypsy by Tatu Baby

Even with a fucked-up finger, this tattoo by Tatu Baby was still the best.

The other three were all varying degrees of crappy with the human canvasses voting for Maddie LaBelle.

Tattoo by Maddie LaBelle

She meant to make it shitty. Honestly.

The judges, however, were torn between Mike and Frank.

Babboon by Frank McManus

Frank McManus tried to defend this. He failed.

Lion by Mystical Mike

Looks nice at first blush, Then you get closer and start noticing all of the flaws.







Ultimately they decided that the baboon just had no redeeming qualities at all, and so they sent Frank on his way. This allows the other two to survive one more week, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Maddie or Mike get bounced next.

The Breaking of Sarah Miller

Sarah has tremendous talent, but she is brittle and everyone knows it. So they are now beginning to take turns pushing her buttons to shake her up. Now that she has been sufficiently rattled, off they go to Coney Island to do mouth tattoos because that is how the judges want to test texture.

Things like this really make me wonder about people. Why anyone would want to do this (aside from ancient Hawaiian women who did it to mourn loved ones, apparently) is beyond me. Still, to each their own, right?

A few artists decided to take the additional challenge of a tongue, as opposed to a lip, and with mixed results. Clint takes this challenge easily since he seems to be the most experienced with tattooing the inside of the mouth, and he turns in a really nice script piece that is highly legible.

Elimination Tattoo

Horror tattoos are the order of the day, and the texture of the tattoo will succeed or fail. Kay feels a little out of his depth while both Steve and Sebastian are very comfortable with this style. Having won the Flash challenge Clint tosses a Black and Gray at Sarah, hoping to crack her composure, bringing her down while elevating himself.

Tops and Bottoms

This horror tattoo was done for texture, so the judges weren’t really looking for a pin-up or elegant version. They wanted something scary and gruesome, which is exactly what Steve does, and he proves it this go round although Jesse put up some real competition.

Tattoo by Jesse Smith

Tattoo by Steve Tefft








Tray, however, apparently did not understand the challenge and he turns in a skull with no texture at all. NONE. Then, while the judges are deliberating, he reveals that prior to the start of the competition he had suffered from major medical issues and had decided to risk his life for the title by leaving his medications at home. Suddenly all of his failures can be re-evaluated, but understanding does not equate to a do-over, and Tray was sent packing.

Tattoo by Tray Benham

This was close, however, because Kay Kutta is letting his inexperience show in nearly every challenge. He does learn, however, and that is why he is still alive. How many more lives does he have, though?


Tattoo by Kay Kutta