The Ink Master Cometh

Ink Master Episode 8 In the climactic final episode of Ink Master our three finalists meet the human canvasses that the judges have assigned to them based upon the portfolio’s of the individual artists. Each tattoo has to be done in 2 six hour sittings.

First up, James is given a Japanese half-sleeve to test his ability. Vaughn has demonstrated an uncanny ability to do large tattoos FAST. Giving him 12 hours to do a half-sleeve, however, doesn’t seem like it is going to challenge his ability  Especially since he said this was right up his alley, claiming Japanese as one of his favorite styles to work in. You can see his finished work below.

Japanese half-sleeve by James Vaughn

  Tommy Helm was tasked with doing a Grim Reaper back-piece, and he was very pleased with the idea. He claims he has no particular style, so he gave the idea some consideration and developed something that, to me, looked a bit like Lord Soth until I did a Google image search and found that the guy i was thinking of, while definitely from D&D was not Soth. Not complaining, not slighting Tommy’s work, just saying.

Grim Reaper by Tommy Helm

And finally the judges tell Shane O’Neill that he will be handling what Chris Nuñez calls “a statuesque” Japanese tattoo. This doesn’t sit well with Shane because his specialty is realism and portrait, so he feels a bit disgruntled about all of this.

Buddha and Lotus by Shane O’Neill

This is the part where I, as a customer, am not qualified to make the call. Each of these three tattoos is fucking BEAUTIFUL:  highly detailed and very skilled.  Fortunately, the judges didn’t have to make the call either, this was just the prelude to the REAL finale:  each artist would start again in the morning with a Master Canvas that was putting their blind faith in these artists in the hope of walking away the proud owner of a $100,000 tattoo.

The catch, however, was this time they would only get six hours to work, the results are below.

Portrait by Tommy Helm

Tommy decided to take Oliver at his word and do something to prove a point. In this case, he delivered a well-constructed tattoo of a woman holding an apple to show his ability to do good hands, and beautiful faces. This was what Chris Nuñez claimed as his favorite of the competition.

Japanese half-sleeve by James Vaughn


James, for some odd reason, decided to go back to his comfort zone and do another Japanese piece. This was a decision that confused not only viewers and fellow artist Shane O’Neill, but it also baffled Chris Nuñez who was really hoping that James would be able to show them a perfect pin-up.

$100,000 tattoo by Ink Master Shane O’Neill

The final battle really came down to Shane and Tommy since James decided to play it safe and do Japanese.  The name of the contest is Ink Master, and you have to be able to do any style, and do them all well. That means you have to be willing to stretch your wings and FLY. James didn’t do that, and it cost him the title.

Ultimately the final decision came down to a case history and the ONE TIME that Tommy was in the bottom cost him the win. Still, he made it to the final three, and that is going to have a dramatic effect on his career in this industry.

Permanent Mistakes: The Pin-Ups Gone Bad

Ink Master Episode 6

Chris “Birdman” Andersen from the Denver Nuggets came by to help Dave Navarro provide a customer’s perspective to the competition. This week they tested proportion by having all of the artists draw the Praying Hands tattoo based upon a statue in 45 minutes.

A deceptively simple design.


Flash Challenge

Now that the artists have done their design, they get to go apply it to their canvasses. Since they weren’t expecting this, a couple of them were caught flat-footed and had to fix the work on the fly. Tommy wins the challenge by fixing his proportion issues from the previous challenge which earned him the points needed to take the win.


 Elimination Tattoo

Keeping with the proportion issue the judges have decided that Pin-Up was going to be the best test since that style calls for women with exaggerated proportions, that still look good. The exaggerations have to go well together to present a pleasing image.

Léa, once again, has a difficult canvas, this one wanting his pin-up on his calf. Léa doesn’t like this because she finds the calf to be too rounded, which could mean that either she lacks the skill necessary to do this tattoo, or she really knows what she is talking about. I’m not an expert so I cannot say. The end result, however, is awful.

Tattoo by Léa Vendetta

Seriously, look at that thing. Or better yet, DON’T, you will be happier that way.

Tops and Bottoms

This challenge was a fucking catastrophe. As Chris Nuñez says in one of the cut-aways, really ugly women were being tattooed on that day. Not all of them, but enough of them to dishearten everyone who loves the Pin-Up style of skin art.

James Vaughn gave his a scary fucking smile, while Tommy drew a chick who looked like she just got out of a serious fight. This would be his first time in the bottom, and he was sweating like a whore in church the whole time.

Shane delivered one of the best tattoos, but considering the lack of real competition he faced this episode, the victory is a little diminished.

Tattoo by Shane O’Neill

while Josh gave him a serious run for his money with this New Skool pin-up that rocks the bell.s

Tattoo by Josh Woods

Unsurprisingly Léa was sent on her way, she has spent too much time in the bottom of the pack to make it to the final round. She’s good, but she’s not an Ink Master. Her work keeps swerving from awesome to horrible, and that lack of consistency finished her.