Shredded Nerves and Bad Covers

Last week Chris Nuñez finally said what a lot of people at home have been saying for three season now “I’m tired of seeing bad tattoos!” This is a competition for $100,000 and this is the 4th year that it has been run. Every episode has been broadcast and you can easily review anything you missed on the Spike TV website. There is literally no excuse that can be made at this point for turning in sub-par work.

With that in mind, the judges decided that starting then they would be bouncing the two lowest-ranked artists each week. Thus we lost Bubba and Keith, which I’m not really sad about to tell you the truth. Neither of the two men really impressed me with their talent.

This week the show opened with all of the artists being led to a graffiti covered courtyard where they are challenged with creating original images to go with a single word that describes the thrill-seeking lifestyle of their human canvas. All of the tattoos had to be done in a graffiti style, and most of them were really good.

Flash Challenge

Sausage takes the win for his extreme skier, although I would have made the character a snow boarder because that just seems a little more extreme than regular skiing.

Shred tatto by Sausage

Yes, it’s a bit cartoony, but graffiti usually is.

Elimination Tattoo

California tattoo legend Freddy Corbin lent his expertise last night as adaptability was tested with cover-ups. I fucking love the cover-up challenges, it is so cool watching the artists try and make something good out of something bad with the end product being seamless. And last night they had their work cut out for them as 8 people showed up with dark-ass tattoos, with one chick needing her pubic mound redone to remove a guy’s name.

I thought that Halo would have given that tattoo to either Lydia or Melissa (whom I really like, although I don’t see her going to the finale) but instead he gave it to Kyle.

One of the artists, when the canvasses were announcing their desired cover-ups, remarked “You never have anything growing out of the vagina” and I would agree with that statement wholeheartedly. There are always exceptions, however, and this tattoo is one of them. I can see myself kissing my way up that tree, no problem. This is just spectacular body art to my eye.

Cherry Blossoms by Kyle Dunbar

Last night we got a bit of a shocker when one of the artists, Jim Francis revealed that he is “partially color-blind” which is a serious fucking handicap for a tattoo artist. And we may not have known about it if he had selected a Black and Gray instead of a full-color, although that decision was taken out of his hands since the canvas had a black tattoo to begin with.

Butterfly Roses by Jim Francis

The color palette in this image is really fucking wonky, and the only explanation is that the tattoo artist is partially color-blind. Holy shit, this cost him $100,000 in this competition, and who knows how much in business. Unless he switches to doing Black and Gray as a specialty, of course.


Tops and Bottoms

The judges didn’t deliberate, they knew who the two best tattoo artists were last night, Halo and Scott, and they didn’t give a shit who didn’t like the latter’s work. Scott is a cocksure asshole, no doubt, but he is a magnificent artist who is virtually guaranteed one of the top three spots

Great A'Tuin by Halo

Great A’Tuin by Halo

Bad-ass monkey by Scott Marshall


On the bottom, shit got crazy.Having won the challenge, Halo was empowered to offer up an artist for dismissal, the human canvasses decided on the worst tattoo artist of the day, and the judges had a third and fourth artist that needed to know they didn’t do their best work.

Halo sent down the most deserving, Jim, the man who confessed (for some inexplicable reason) to being colorblind. And the confession came literally moments after telling Halo that at least his tattoo could be re-worked and embellished, while Gentle Jay just turned in a bad tattoo that couldn’t be fixed. He didn’t tell the judges about it, so maybe he doesn’t care.

How did you know this was a cover-up?  Because it's so blatantly obvious?  Ah, I see...

How did you know this was a cover-up? Because it’s so blatantly obvious? Ah, I see…


The human canvasses sent Ruck down for his blatantly obvious cover-up. It wasn’t just the bad design and composition that doomed this one, it was the fact that it was so obviously a cover-up, and a bad one at that.

The upside down rose drained all of the magic from those horseshoes.

The upside down rose drained all of the magic from those horseshoes.

And Melissa  completely dropped the ball by not being able to do a clean, solid V8 engine block. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know engines, etc, she knows tattooing, she said it herself. Therefore this tattoo belongs here in the bottom because of all of the poor execution that was needed to make it happen.

Come on, Melissa...even if you don't work on engines you should be able to depict them cleanly.

Come on, Melissa…even if you don’t work on engines you should be able to depict them cleanly.

Here’s where shit gets weird though. After dismissing Ruck and Jim the judges send the others back to the loft with a message directed specifically at Kyle Dunbar. Chris Nuñez wanted Kyle to know that he really, really hated that tattoo and wanted Kyle down in the bottom for it.

Kyle‘s tattoo is not perfect, no, but it’s not fucking awful either. And the other artists, including my favorite for the finale, Sausage, even expected it to make the top four of the day.

Previously we have seen Chris and Oliver deliver high praise and devastating critiques to both Kyle and Tatu Baby, and for the same reason:  both of them were voted back by America, and that shit was going to mean something. Nuñez was going to make sure these two artists turned in their best possible work.

In last year’s finale Oliver asked Tatu Baby who has been yelling in her face for the seven years she has been tattooing?  Who has been chewing her ass whenever she fucked up, because that was Oliver‘s experience as an apprentice.

I’m guessing that Chris had a similar experience and he has previously remarked that every time he dings Kyle on something, Kyle comes back with that deficiency corrected. The harder Chris pushed, the better the tattoos he got from Kyle.

Was this harsh critique tonight, and the pointed message, another manifestation of that?  And if so, has he pushed Kyle, a man under severe stress economically, too far? I guess we’ll find out next week when Kyle apparently physically attacks Chris.


Great A’tuin by Halo