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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyes Have It

Jason, back from another trip to the bottom is reeling. He knows he isn’t going to make it, and rather than accept it, he is getting jealous of those who are better. People like Joey, for instance.

Flash Challenge

Accuracy was going to be tested last night as the artists had to tattoo the eyelids of their canvasses. Who the fuck gets their eyelids tattooed?  Aside from underage prostitutes with abusive pimps, anyway. None of the artists feels comfortable with this task, but they have to do it, another close call for Josh who wants to talk his canvas out of it.

I gotta admit, Kyle killed it with this one.

I gotta admit, Kyle killed it with this one.

The judges gave the win to Jime Litwalk for his writing which was just fucking incredible.

Jime really did it up with this.

Jime really did it up with this.

 

Elimination Tattoo

Possessed of the power to assign human canvasses at the Elimination Jime begins lining up people he wants gone, namely Joshua. His decision is supported when Joshua makes the mistake of judging Tatu Baby for having a facial tattoo, then tries to say he didn’t judge her. His plan is disrupted, however. when guest judge Corey Miller, California tattoo genius, comes out to help judge the upcoming portrait tattoos.

Joshua excels at reproducing images, and Jime finds anything except New Skool to be a challenge. And he’s going to be doing a portrait of Dave Navarro because a cute young blonde wants him to.

Dave has previously made it clear that one of his biggest fears is for “a pretty girl to walk into a tattoo shop and walk out a little less pretty.”  And Jime doesn’t really inspire confidence that he will be able to do a real portrait of Dave and not some New Skool variation.

 

No, he was much smarter than that.

No, he was much smarter than that.

 Tops and Bottoms

 

Damn fine work, you have to admit.

Damn fine work, you have to admit.

The judges didn’t even need to deliberate on this one, it was unanimous. Tatu Baby knocked this one out of the park.

Their decision about the bottom, however, was not. Kyle‘s was not aesthetically pleasing, Jason was the least accurate in his representation, and Jime didn’t really capture Dave Navarro‘s essence in his tattoo.

Portrait by Jason Clay Dunn

Portrait by Jason Clay Dunn

The inaccuracies in this portrait, combined with his prior history on the show, finally doomed Jason. And Joshua moves one step closer to the prize.

 

Animal Instincts

Ten artists remaining, and the focus was Japanese, Chris‘ specialty. Tatu Baby and Craig are finding themselves on shaky ground, while Joshua keeps sailing along in the middle, occasionally bobbing up to the top during Flash Challenges.

Jime has a grudging respect for Joshua, openly acknowledging the other man’s ability to smooth talk his canvasses. It is something that Josh has striven to perfect and clearly takes pride in.

Flash Challenge

Jime, having won the previous Elimination tattoo is now able to assign the skulls this time. The challenge is to body paint models to bring out the essence of a particular wild animal. Joshua gets the easy one, of course:  the porcupine.

So, with 30 minutes to sketch their animal, followed by 2 hours to paint the model, detail is the order of the day.

Water monitor by Kyle Dunbar

Water monitor by Kyle Dunbar

Elimination Tattoo

Kyle has been middle of the road so far, but now that he is on top he could turn it around. To help him find out if that is the case, New York tattoo legend Troy Denning showed up to guest judge. Like Chris, he is a Japanese tattoo Master and will not forgive easily.

Speaking of unforgiving men, two of the canvasses were celebrities also. Frank Trig, an MMA fighter and Jimmy Smith from Bellator came by to volunteer their skin.

Art by Kyle Dunbar, worn by Frank Trig

Art by Kyle Dunbar, worn by Frank Trig

 

Art by Craig Foster

Art by Craig Foster

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese tattoos, like everything else in Japanese culture, has a certain rigor to it. Everything is important, and you need to know why before you start working. One of the artists, Made Rich, has no respect for Japanese tattoos because he doesn’t understand them. It is the same story we heard with American Traditional:  it’s too basic, it’s not my style…although here in Season 3 that last one will only get you laughed at.

Geisha tattoo by Made Rich

Geisha tattoo by Made Rich

 

The judges were so disappointed with the work turned in that they didn’t name a tattoo of the day since none of them earned it. Josh, Made Rich, and Jackie found themselves on the bottom and Rich didn’t help his case by saying he had to “dumb it down” so that Japanese was up to his skills. This situation helped Tatu Baby squeak by another week and kept Josh from getting bounced for his crappy (no pun intended) tattoo.

Ass mask by Joshua Hibbard

Ass mask by Joshua Hibbard

The Cheese Stands Alone

Eleven artists remain, and that means there will only be 8 eliminations left. As the tension heats up, Joshua continues to draw fire from the other contestants, ultimately leading them to completely align against him.

 

Flash Challenge

This week they want to test “value” otherwise known as “shading” I think. And to add the degree of difficulty, the canvasses all have major scars that must be incorporated into the finished work. Most of the work is excellent, but Tatu Baby takes the win with her little vulture.

Scar cover-up by Tatu Baby

Scar cover-up by Tatu Baby

 

Elimination Tattoo

Since Black and Gray is being tested, they got Mexican tattoo legend Chuey Quintanar to pay a visit. And since he came all that way, they brought in canvasses that wanted a Dios de la Muerte tattoo. One canvas even requests Tatu Baby not only give him his tattoo, but that it be her face on the tattoo.

 

Self-portrait by Tatu Baby

Self-portrait by Tatu Baby

 

Craig, a great well-rounded artist who specializes in New Skool completely forgot the nature of the B & G format and mixed white with black. You NEVER mix white with black on a B & G tattoo, you always take black and water it down.

ALWAYS.

See this?  Don't fucking do it!

See this? Don’t fucking do it!

 

 Tops and Bottoms

The judges were not pleased with the results tonight. Some of the tattoos were way too lacking in their shading, and it seriously disappointed the judges who were quite vocal about it. With no real competition they found Jime Litwalk‘s colorless New Skool tattoo to be the best.

Day of the Dead Girl by Jime Litwalk

Day of the Dead Girl by Jime Litwalk

The human canvas jury voted for Craig as the worst, but the judges decided that Chris was actually the worst. His inability to shade from dark to light did this one in.

Navy Girl by Chris May

 

Tattoos are getting better, but the drama is getting worse.