The Shootout

For the second time Tatu Baby found herself in the Final Four, the title within her grasp. All skills would be tested as the artists used custom designs from past celebrity judges Chuey Quintanar, Troy Dennings, Corey Miller, and  Seth Ciferri.

They would also be tattooing the same canvas at the same time. Then the artists will get a fresh canvas completely open to whatever the artist wants. No excuses that way.

Each tattoo was designed to test the particular flaws of the artists, and some of them came through just fine. Others, like Kyle and Tatu Baby, struggled. Oliver came dangerously close to telling Tatu Baby that she’s been trading on her looks for the seven years she’s been in the tattoo business. She clearly has talent, and skill, but she just as clearly swerves from good to bad and routinely misses the fundamentals.

Design by Troy Dennings rendered by Tatu Baby

Kyle absolutely killed the  Seth Ciferri tattoo that he was assigned. Unfortunately, his original came out too dark and hard to read. They decided it wasn’t good enough for the final three.


The fuck is going on here?

The fuck is going on here?


The judges made their decision, and Kyle was sent on his way, which kinda sucks. America had sent Tatu Baby back, she was going to go as far as they could let her go without shafting a more deserving competitor. Yes, including Craig Foster, who just could not do Black and Gray, and that is why he won’t be in the top three.

Kyle, however, is a different story. He had been in the middle of the pack, occasionally bobbing to the top. Tatu Baby, however, kept jumping up and diving down the whole season. At least Kyle will have an opportunity for a second chance at the live finale.

The artists, on the other hand, would be going home to a Master Canvas waiting to receive a 35 hour tattoo. Let’s see what they come up with.


Battle for the Golden Skull

Another season of Ink Master has come to an end, and the final three artists are ready to unveil their Masterworks.  Since this is going to be a live episode, they have made sure we are entertained by giving us a short season recap, catfights between losing contestants and returning canvasses, and best of all, two would go head-to-head during the live broadcast. The winner would get to come back in Season 4.

The lucky candidates were Chris May, who never really got a chance to show his work, and Kyle, who got the most difficult canvasses and somehow still managed to consistently turn in good work.

Kyle Dunbar's Redemption Tattoo

Kyle Dunbar’s Redemption Tattoo

Chris Hays Redemption

Chris Hays proves he can draw bad-ass tattoos










America compared the works and decided that Kyle  would be coming back for another shot at the title. He had a larger, cleaner portfolio on the show so it was an easy choice to make.

Joshua did raise a very good point about Tatu Baby, but it was a blatantly obvious one that he should have understood. Instead of just sitting there quietly he had to open his mouth, questioning the judgement of Peck, Nunez, and Navarro as if there would be no repercussions. And too lack he learned there are as Chris tells him in no uncertain terms that he feels confident that no tattoo artist will work with Joshua now. And he could be right, only time will tell.

The $100,000 Tattoo

Now for the main event, which of the three artists is the Ink Master?

 Tatu Baby wanted this Native American pin-up with wolf scene but her canvas got upset about the face being “some random chick” and left after the first session. Baby had to start from scratch with a new canvas, but she forgot to re-size the stencil, apparently. Another big problem is that the wolf has no body making this a really confusing tattoo once you get past how beautiful it is.

Back-piece by Tatu Baby

Jime decided to go with an American Traditional:  the Battle Royale. A dragon, a snake, and an eagle would all battle for the golden Ink Master skull. The trouble was that there was no battle. All of the would-be combatants were sort of minding their own territory, not actively fighting. Oliver was very disappointed.

Battle Royale by Jime Litwalk

The Battle Royale will begin soon. I promise.

And Joey Hamilton takes the win with this insanely detailed mermaid. She wasn’t perfect, but she was close enough to win $100,000 and nab him the title of Ink Master.

$100,000 tattoo by Joey Hamilton


Soon season 4 will begin with Kyle Dunbar and a roster of new artists. Let’s see how things play out.

Joshua’s Last Stand

We have reached the Final Five and it was obvious that neither Joshua, Tatu Baby, or Kyle can feel relaxed right now. They have spent too much time in the bottom to be comfortable about their position. This is where your previous tattoos can destroy you.

Flash Challenge

Taken to the carrier Intrepid the artists must show their finesse by designing custom dog tags for veterans or the families of fallen service members  With such a small surface and such a significant theme, every mistake will be glaring. With that in mind, everyone turned in their best work.

Jime takes the victory in a close-fought battle.

Dog tag by Jime Litwalk

Dog tags by Jime Litwalk

Dog tag 2 by Jine Litwalk

Other tag by Jime Litwalk


Elimination Challenge

When they did the eyelid tattoo Joshua professed loud disapproval of facial and head tattooing. Well, tonight they have to do head tattoos. They can do any style, but the tattoo must be done on the head.  Apparently even the judges are tired of Josh hanging around. Twig Sparks, from Chris’ shop Hand Crafted, comes by to guest judge the finesse displayed.

Tops and Bottoms 

 Jime, Joshua, Tatu Baby find themselves in front of the judges, and Jime is the big winner.

Can you see the scar?

Can you see the scar?

The others, however, all displeased the judges in various ways. The most egregious offenders were  Josh and Tatu Baby; him for not being able to draw, her for not being able to apply as well as him. He can replicate anything, but he doesn’t know how to draw, it’s not his thing.

It came down to a split between Chris and Oliver:  the first wanted Josh gone, the second wanted to bounce Baby. The inability to draw was unacceptable to Chris who finally put a stop to Josh’s advancement and giving both Tatu Baby and Kyle a much-needed reprieve.

This is why America gave you a second chance?  Realty?

This is why America gave you a second chance? Realty?

Yes, this was actually drawn by a 17 year veteran tattoo artist.
Yes, this was actually drawn by a 17 year veteran tattoo artist.



Now there are only four left. Either Kyle or Tatu Bay is about to go home. They have been middle of the pack the entire way, let’s see who can go the distance with Jime and Joey.












National Disasters

One of the biggest attractions of Ink Master is the idea that you will be seeing great tattoos from artists across America, some of them not originally from America which helps people who don’t have good, strong Internet to connect them to the rest of the world.

So it is all the more infuriating when, 3 years in, we are still hearing artists piss and moan about being out of their element, or how they are losing sleep because they are spending the entire morning working, and the evening studying and drawing. It makes me wonder what the hell they were told to expect, or if they have watched the previous two seasons.

To my mind, those who complain the most are gone the fastest. Steve Tefft and Shane O’Neill rarely complained about anything except Kay Kutta and both of them went on to claim the title of Ink Master, despite each man losing individual challenges and have their work run in the middle of the pack at times. They did the job because it had to get done. There was no confusion in their minds about the difficulty of this contest.

Oliver Peck says


Flash Challenge

Last year Dave Navarro volunteered six of his guitars and was pretty bummed out by the results. He didn’t find a single one that he wanted to show off on stage. Not one. This season, feeling more optimistic about the odds for some reason (Tatu Baby is a known commodity?), Dave has decided to volunteer himself as a human canvas.

Each artist would get 2 hours to draw a pair of American Traditional tattoos, Good and Bad luck. Dave would then pick one of each design from separate artists, then they would apply them to him simultaneously. With 18 designs to choose from, odds were that Dave would find at least two that he could wear.

There were some good designs, and some bad designs. Jason Clay Dunn came up with a cool one based on Dave’s planchette pendant (a lot of people think that is a guitar pick) which struck a chord (bad pun, I know) with Dave.

Planchette by Jason Clay Dunn

Planchette by Jason Clay Dunn

Coffin Girl by Tatu Baby

Coffin Girl by Tatu Baby


Now, personally, I have nothing against Tatu Baby’s coffin girl, but as far as good luck goes, I think that Joey Hamilton did a better American Traditional, but I’m not expert.

Lucky Seven by Joey Hamilton

Lucky Seven by Joey Hamilton


To increase the pressure all of the other artists are allowed to observe the work as it’s being done. Because tattooing Dave Navarro isn’t nerve-wracking enough, right?


Planchette tattoo by Jason Clay Dunn as worn by Dave Navarro

Planchette tattoo by Jason Clay Dunn as worn by Dave Navarro

Coffin Girl tattoo by Tatu Baby as worn by Dave Navarro

Coffin Girl tattoo by Tatu Baby as worn by Dave Navarro







After consideration the judges go with Jason’s, although it was a split decision with Dave and Oliver choosing Jason.

Elimination Tattoo

 Guest judge Nikko Hurtado comes by to lend his expertise as the artists are tasked with national landmark tattoos. Jason, giddy from having the ability to assign the human canvasses, decides that he wants to test everyone’s skills because he wants guys like Jime and Joey to know the pain of being on the bottom.

And so we get some more reality-TV drama courtesy of Kyle who got saddled with the Roman Colosseum, a work of amazing detail to be done in six hours.  Since Jason got a bone from Kyle in the last round, Kyle was hoping for reciprocity, and was not happy when it didn’t show. Still, he turned in some seriously good work in the time he was allotted.

Colosseum by Kyle Dunbar

Tops and Bottoms

Some of these tattoos weren’t really good, merely adequate, which is unfortunate not only for the artists, but for the canvasses. ES didn’t deliver an especially good Brooklyn Bridge, and it cost him.

Brooklyn Bridge (L) and tattoo version by ES (R)

Brooklyn Bridge (L) and tattoo version by ES (R)

It was especially rough for him since there was another photo-realistic bridge tattoo turned in that day, a much more impressive one.

Golden Gate Bridge (L) and tattoo version by Joey Hamilton (R)

Golden Gate Bridge (L) and tattoo version by Joey Hamilton (R)

Tatu Baby and Josh both dropped the ball tonight, so it isn’t looking good for either of them in the long term. Especially not Tatu Baby who has been all over the place since her return to the competition. Josh, on the other hand, is not a good artist and it is continuing to shine through.