Explosive Confrontation

In Season 2 of Ink Master they added a new wrinkle where the artist who got the most votes from America would get a second chance. This was continued in Season 3, although during the live season finale they had two artists compete head-to-head. The winner, as you may recall, was Kyle Dunbar.

Over the course of that season we saw Kyle consistently improving his techniques after every harsh critique he received. It was a situation that served to make Kyle a better tattoo artist, and it provided the TV audience with some good moments as Nuñez and Peck made witty one-liners about the bad work they saw. Unfortunately, as we saw last season, Kyle was going through a time economic time and his home was foreclosed on, yet he persevered and that was part of the reason, I think, that he was given the opportunity at a second chance.

When he came back, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform. The same as with Tatu Baby who got a second chance last season and ultimately placed second in the final three. Well, I guess she placed third because her wolf had no fucking legs. Other than that, though, it was a great tattoo.

The wolf is laughing his ass off. Literally, he just laughed off his forelegs first.

Since the start of this season Nuñez has been riding Kyle, at one point commenting that this seems to be the key to getting the best work out of him. Unfortunately, whether or not that was true, it ultimately caused Kyle to crack under the strain. The show opened with Kyle trying to start a fight with Chris which ultimately spilled out into the street and ended with no real punches thrown, and Kyle Dunbar eliminated from the competition.

Once that unpleasantness was over, they moved on to that day’s business.

Flash Challenge

The remaining contestants were divided into teams to work on canvas where the artists drew their creations with sand. Then they filled in the empty spaces with gunpowder which, when burned, would sear their designs into the canvas.

Having won the previous week, Halo was in the catbird seat and able to assign teams for this event. He paired up with Scott in order to better understand the other artist’s style and thought process. This shows that Halo, one of the best artists on the show, is also one of the best contestants in this challenge. He doesn’t run around shouting about how great he is, he let’s his tattoos do that for him. Instead, he just watches his competitors and takes the advantage when it is given to him.

This is why he paired up Lydia and Gentle Jay, a couple with all of the easy rhythms of Riggs and Murtaugh in the first hour of Lethal Weapon. And with similar results…

Man I wish I'd tried harder at art when I was a kid...

Man I wish I’d tried harder at art when I was a kid…

I'm angry, damnit

I’m angry, damnit








Halo and Scott won the challenge with this kickass Van Gogh Starry Night in Egypt type thing.


Starry night and Pyramids by Halo and Scott Marshal

Starry night and Pyramids by Halo and Scott Marshal


Elimination Tattoo

Since negative space was being tested they decided that the tattoos would be done in Black and Grey. And since Rob Zombie was the special guest judge, the tattoo theme was horror tattoos, nice and scary.

Halo and Scott assigned the skulls with the idea of taking out Sausage, one of the best artists on the show. Or so Scott thought, because Halo was actually trying to break up the Scott-Matti alignment, which called for some fancy footwork on his part. It also angered Sausage who seemed really offended that he got shafted with a difficult canvas. In this case, a guy with stretched, flabby skin and a bad attitude.

This behavior kind of bothered me because Sausage really is a great tattoo artist so being given difficult canvasses is a complement. It shows that he has struck fear into them, and that should be, if not a source of pride, then at least a confirmation of his skill.

Demon by Sausage

Tops and Bottoms

On the bottom we found Lydia who, after claiming horror as her specialty, turned in a rather confused and lackluster werewolf thing. I’m not sure what is going on here, it’s just too dark. The judges didn’t like it either, and they sent her packing for it.

Those are teeth, I am told. Teeth.

While Sausage scored the win for his demon tattoo, I don’t think it was the best tattoo of the day. In my opinion that honor belongs to Matti, who delivered that knock-out piece that you see below.

Demoness by Matti Hixson

Demoness by Matti Hixson

One more week and we will see two more artists going home. I’m guessing that will be Gentle Jay and Melissa, although I wouldn’t mind seeing her progress to the final three. Guess we’ll find out soon.

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.