Once again the Judges have decided that the artists are going straight to Elimination. And, possibly owing to the insane judgement last week, there will be no Human Canvas Jury this week. Every artist is going to be judged solely by the regular trio, and the margin for error is becoming razor thin.
Since keeping it fresh is the name of the game, this time the artists were divided into teams of three. Ultimately there would only be four canvasses judged at the end, and to make it really interesting, the canvasses randomly selected their artistic teams. Each team would be doing American Traditional, a test of their ability with the fundamentals of modern American tattooing.
One thing that I’ve seen consistently this season was how artists were razzing each other in front of human canvasses, and personally, I find it juvenile, unprofessional, and extremely distasteful. If you have an issue with another artist, and you want to yell at each other and mock each other’s work, save that shit for the critiques and the privacy of the loft. There is no reason to do that in front of someone who is volunteering their body so you can win the title. It’s especially rude because you can actually throw someone off their game and actually ruin a canvas, as we saw last week. This time, however, everyone was on their best behavior which was a nice change.
That isn’t to say that every team was a love fest, because that is an impossible dream at the best of times. Still, each team pulled together and managed to turn in some decent American Traditional tattoos, the first time in five seasons that none of them were ripped apart by the judges. Still, there was one clear winner, and that was a beautiful Gypsy done by Josh, Angel, and Emily. Well, mostly Josh and Angel since Emily claimed she was mostly incapacitated by endometriosis or early stage cancer, or something. I don’t want to sound callous, but her illness came and went as suddenly as Aaron’s did last episode, and with the same result: both of them had an easier time than their competitors did.
It’s obvious the reason this tattoo came out so good because Josh Hibbard was the team captain. Oliver even went so far as to say it was the best work they had seen from either Angel or Emily, and it’s hard to argue especially when you compare the lines on this to the lines on Emily’s Octopus or Angel’s Spartan from last week. Without Josh to carry her, it is likely that Emily would have been dismissed this week.
Next up we had Cleen, Erik, and Ty’esha. At first blush it’s a good tattoo, but then you notice that the proportions are off. The tail feathers are as big as the wings are, which means this eagle isn’t going to fly.
The next team to be judged was Mark, Julia, and Jason who managed to talk their canvas out of an overly complicated design with a mermaid and sparrows. This clipper ship looks great, but the mistakes on it are in the line work. The mast which has a distinct curve to it and the lettering could have been done better, it’s especially bad because Jason did the line work to recover from his missteps last week when tattooing another clipper ship in the gluteal challenge.
And finally we had Aaron, Cris, and Don turn in this piece which, compared to the others, is a little lackluster. The judges didn’t mention it, but look at the right side of that bottle, that there is a distinct dent right around the white ring of the lighthouse. It’s nit-picky, but it’s little things like that which will cost you your shot at the title.
Since the work was done in three’s, the judges couldn’t decide who screwed the pooch. They left that duty to the individual teams, allowing them to send the weak link down for elimination. Most of the teams readily recognized their failures and all went smoothly. With the notable exception of Jason, Julia, and Mark. And this is what really pissed me off; Jason was such a fucking pussy that he flat-out refused to acknowledge that HE was the one who turned in the worst work today. In the loft he makes this big deal about how he’s going to “stand on his sword” because he doesn’t want to be the one who ends someone else’s chances. The judges know he is the weak link, Julia knows he is the weak link, and in his heart Jason knows he is the weak link. He’s just not man enough to admit it, and when it comes time he tries to throw Julia under the bus.
Ty’esha, Julia, and Don found themselves competing for their place in the competition by doing a special design from Oliver Peck, himself. I love this kind of challenge because it cuts away all of the bullshit and shows who can actually do what. Lines, shading, placement, and color choices are the only things that the artist is responsible for, the design work has been taken care of for them. You live or die on the strength of your skills.
Don turned in an acceptable piece, even if it wasn’t his best work. For me the dark, faded colors do this tattoo in, more so than the crooked outlines. Those are easy to fix, which is why Don didn’t find himself packing his gear at the end of the episode.
Julia, one of the least experienced artists, keeps surprising everyone with her staying power. She’s only been doing this for five years, but she has definite potential, and it shows when the pressure is on. Her decision to shade the teeth black was an extremely odd choice, but that might be fixable. She’s not going to make it to the top three, but she is definitely going to outlast Mark who just keeps turning in subpar work and refusing to acknowledge his shortcomings.
Ty’esha had the best outlines, but she gave her skull a fucking mustache. Hilariously she even told Nunez that she cut her teeth as a tattoo artist learning to do skulls. Worse than that, though, she had the skull facing the wrong fucking way. It’s that Day One shit that she keeps fucking up, and this time it got her bounced.