Revenge of the Gearhead

Last week on Ink Master we saw the return of St. Marq, one of the most dynamic and innovative artists to ever make his way onto this competition. It was also very close to his last appearance of the season, as it turned out. This week’s Flash Challenge was designed to test contrast, and the artists had to exercise their imaginations to the fullest as they were going to use garbage and a 100kw light to do some shadowplay.

Flash Challenge

Divided into teams by Megan Jean Morris, winner of last week’s Tattoo of the Day we found the typical personality conflicts emerging as strong artists tried to dominate their partners. Ms. Morris made sure to assign her pairings in a way that wouldn’t put her at a disadvantage, nor would it immediately set anyone against her. It worked out well for some better than for others.

Ashley Velasquez found herself paired up with Alex Rockoff  and she quickly recognized that with her Fine Arts background she had a slight advantage over him creatively. Meanwhile Megan Jean Morris found herself working for (notice I didn’t say “with”) St. Marq as they developed a pretty sweet graveyard scene.

Christian Buckingham was paired up with Anthony Michaels who also opted for a horror-show theme. Which left the two weakest artists on the same team, Picasso Dular and Cris Gherman.

Possibly due to a language barrier, possibly due to psychological issues, we found the team of Dular and Gherman on the bottom in this challenge. It does’t bode well for either of them because, while their portfolios show they are very skilled, an Ink Master needs to be able to work under pressure while demonstrating extreme versatility. And these men are not doing that.

Easy Rider by Picasso Dular

Picasso Dular DOES have talent, you cannot deny that.

The Twist

Last season perennial whiner and all-around ass-hat Jason Clay Dunn won the title of Ink Master when he turned in a Nu-Skool Japanese backpiece that, in all honesty, was pretty fucking amazing. His victory, however, came because his competitor Cleen Rock One had a brainfart and didn’t do his tattoo in the assigned style. Tonight, Cleen Rock returned with a major chip on his shoulder. Entering the Loft like a man returning from a stretch in jail, he made it clear that he wanted the title and didn’t care who he had to mow down to get it.

Playing to his strengths he assigned the challenge as Neo-Traditional with the subject matter of motorcycles and muscle cars. A self-professed gearhead these are things close to his heart, and he took every opportunity to try and rattle his competition.

As the winners of the Flash Challenge the canvas assignments were left to Ashley and Alex who, logically, tried to eliminate both of the returning vets by assigning them the most challenging tattoos. Unfortunately, their plan failed miserably since both canvasses were fans of their respective artists.

That's on her BICEP, not her forearm.

That’s on her TRICEP, not her forearm.


Tattoo of the Day

Proving he has the skills to pay the bills, Cleen Rock One delivered a solid tattoo that the judges agreed was the best. Bonus points for residents of Puerto Rico as well.

Cleen Rock One knows how to do Neo-Traditional, no doubt.

Cleen Rock One knows how to do Neo-Traditional, no doubt.

Exit Tattoo

Since he arrived Cris Gherman has made it clear that, having grown up under Communist rule in Transylvania, he has no interest in following rules. It’s a great attitude to live by, if you can make it work for you, but a horrible one for a game show like Ink Master. And it was this refusal to abide by the rules that ultimately sent Cris home today. Contrast was the order of the day, and his black and gray tattoo showed none of that.

In defense of Cris Gherman, the canvas didn't understand the challenge either.

In defense of Cris Gherman, the canvas didn’t understand the challenge either.

I don’t see much of a future for Picasso or Alex either, to be honest. Alex is one of the most brittle and volatile artists we’ve yet seen compete, and Picasso is not familiar enough with his tools to go the distance. Both of them have tremendous skill, but this is not their home studio and neither is truly comfortable in the Loft. Let’s see who drops next.

Tattoos like this don't get you to the Top 3.

Tattoos like this don’t get you to the Top 3.


Ink Master: Bloodsport!

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tattoos in general, and Spike TVs Ink Master is my favorite reality show. Artists tend to be flaky people, and tattoo artists tend to exemplify that. Considering the history of the art form it isn’t really that surprising, but I expect that will be changing in the next decade since it is becoming more common to have ink, than to be a blank canvas.


I only see 2 contenders.

I only see 2 contenders.


Flash Challenge

This season we have eight new artists, and eight returning artists. When the show began we were only introduced to the new contestants, however. And their first challenge was a three part exercise.

First they were tasked with sketching a nude model. This seems straight forward since 90% of all tattoos begin as sketches. The ability to translate what you see before you onto paper should be a fundamental aspect of the discipline. Yet, for some reason, most of these artists seemed dumbfounded by the sight of a nude woman posing for them.


Damnit, i wish I could draw.

As soon as they felt comfortable with their sketches, they moved on to stage 2 of the Flash Challenge:  assembling their tattoo machines. As we’ve seen before, this is a pet peeve of Peck and Nunez. If an artist cannot assemble their own tattoo machine, then their Master has failed them. A true craftsman should have an intimate familiarity with their tools, and those who do not rarely display the same level of skill as those who do.

Once the machines have been completed, it’s time to move on to the final stage:  translating their sketch to canvas. And rather than force a human to wear some shitty tattoo done by an artist who couldn’t complete their machine properly, the judges once again had the artists use a pig carcass.

Christian Buckingham pig tattoo

This little piggie got inked up.

It quickly became apparent that there were only going to be two artists of the eight who were going to be around very long.

ink_master_bios_011316_CHRISTIAN BUCKINGHAM

Behold greatness


Queen of the Needle









Megan Jean Morris set herself apart from the pack when they were dealing with the nude model. While everyone else was being ultra polite with the naked lady she was very much in control, unafraid to give direction so she could get the sketch she wanted.

Likewise, Christian Buckingham made himself known by being the first to assemble his tattoo machine, something he claims to have extensive experience with.

The Twist:

Now that the artists have entered the loft and see their new studio they learn that they will be joined by other artists as well. Each week a previous Ink Master contestant will return. And they will have the power to dictate the standards for the Elimination Tattoo. First up, self-professed “Tattoo God” Saint Marq, master of black-and-gray no outline tattooing.


It’s hard to be humble when you’re this awesome.

Last season Saint Marq was eliminated far too early due to a particularly strategic play by his former apprentice turned Super Mario impersonator Chris Blinston. Looking to set the pace for the new season Saint Marq set the challenge that the elimination tattoo would be done in Black and Gray with no liner, only a shader. This should have been a slam-dunk for him, and yet, this is what he turns in.

Saint Marq Ep 1

I have to agree with Ashley Velasquez, it really does look like he (she?) is wearing an umbrella.

The Human Canvas Jury decided this was the worst of the day, but I would not agree with that decision. Definitely bad, but not the absolute worst. It was a close call for him, but fortunately he was edged out by this disaster.

Worst of the Day Ep 1

The only saving grace this tattoo has is that it’s on the skull, so the lady just has to let her hair grow out to hide it.

Tattoo of the Day:

Lust by Megan Jean Morris

Lust by Megan Jean Morris

This is why I expect she is going to go further than anyone except Christian. It was a unanimous decision by the judges as well, so she is definitely going for that $100K paycheck.

Christian is making it clear that for him, this is not personal, it is all about the title. Eventually he is going to go after everyone in the Loft, and that is the only attitude that is going to win. Playing nice and giving people softballs is only cutting your own throat, as every competitor should know by now. Don’t let other people rattle you, it will only cause you to deliver bad tattoos (which is a punishment for your canvas) and will ultimately cost you, at the least, $100,000.

It’s too soon to tell how they will do against the other returning vets, but they will definitely outlast the other newcomers.