Spike TV Brings Us Ink Master: A Tattoo Travesty

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A friend of mine was recently getting some work done in one of San Francisco's most respected tattoo shops, Skull & Sword, when the conversation turned to new Spike TV reality competition show, Ink Master. In case you've missed this slice of Truly Awful Television, it is basically America's Next Model for tattoo artists. But instead of Tyra Banks standing around looking stern every week, we get the first tattooed guy the producers could think of (probably because he and his ex-wife Carmen Electra had a reality T.V. show of their own a few years back), Dave Navarro. Dave Navarro -- in case you're not familiar -- has played guitar in Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and, very importantly, has some of the dodgiest tattoos in living memory.

Alongside Navarro are fellow judges Oliver Peck (who used to be married to the most famous reality T.V. tattoo artist of them all -- Kat Von D) and Chris Nunez (one of the dudes from Miami Ink). They are all overly harsh in their criticisms and vaguely inconsistent with their treatment and judging of the ten artists who, by the way, are competing for $100,000 and a spread in a Inked Magazine.

Each week, the contestants are given a flash challenge (which has, thus far, included painting both cars and naked ladies), followed by the elimination challenge. Each week, the artists must do a different style. The second week was tribal, which was stunning to us because we didn't think anyone had gotten a tribal tattoo since the late nineties. Last week, they had to show "shading." At some point in the near future, they'll be doing pin-up girls.



Last week, the most arrogant and unpleasant contestant -- Al Fliction, an odious and loud bore of a man -- got eliminated. We breathed a sigh of relief that we didn't have to see or hear him ever again until it dawned on us that there is literally only one truly likeable contestant in the whole bunch. For the most part, they all seem like total bastards. Arrogant, self-obsessed bastards at that.

So, you might be wondering, why the hell are we tuning into this travesty of a show every week? Well, that's a good question. To us, it's a little bit like having a giant bruise that you can't stop pressing on. You know it's going to hurt you but you keep doing it anyway. There is something maddeningly addictive about watching people attempting to do the impossible each week -- like the guy who volunteered to get a full head tattoo in one sitting, who seemed surprised when five hours of getting his head drilled turned out to be agonizing (they had to call in the paramedics for that one). Or the guy that came in absolutely covered with psoriasis and requested work done on top of his skin condition. And these are just the canvasses. 

The contestants panic, fight, bitch about each other and critique each other's work unreasonably. The judges bitch out the contestants. This is a competition in which no one seems happy or, hell, even content, for a moment. None of them are having a good time. And therefore, for someone who loves tattoos and tattooing culture, it is a joy to watch. "That's what you get!' we all yell at our televisions every week "for trivializing tattoos and trying to make them digestible for mainstream television! Suffer!"



Which brings us back to that conversation my friend was a part of in Skull & Sword last week. All of the artists in the shop hated the show, but -- like me -- watched it anyway. And ultimately they concluded that what Ink Master really needs is an episode of Mystery Science Theater dedicated to it. I can think of nothing more joyous. In the meantime, we're secretly hoping that the idiot at Spike TV that came up with this thing is getting a tattoo on the back of his hand to remind him to never do anything like this ever again. And we do mean ever...



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9 comments
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Johnhouckjr
Johnhouckjr

Wont ever watch show again Tommy SLAMMED the final 2 tattoos and loses to shane who is one demesional... I mean really he unquestionably had the 2 best final tattoos and then they go back and do final judging on what happen in past...Sorry but they were on shanes dick whole show TOMMMY U GOT SCREWED ROYALY!!!! why didnt they say not only will u be judged on theses final 2 tattooos but we are also takin in consideration ur past tatoos ?? NOOO not way it suppose be thats why they critique every week to let each individual improve on what they do so alll past tattoos shhould be thrown out and judged solely on final 2 tats srry but just lost a viewer

Litmac24
Litmac24

I have to agree with Johnouckjr.  Why even have a final competition and waste my time?  Shane could have royally messed up the final challenge.  As they stated, "it would be fair to Shane to have him not win since he never was in the bottom."  What was the purpose of the final challeng then?  Tommy did a better job on the final competition and showed progress.  Shane is a great tattoo artest.  In my opinion, not very well rounded, his "color tattoo" on the final challenge, wasn't that great.  It was good, but if it was being criticed in the earlier rounds....they would have slammed any one else, but not their golden boy Shane.  This show was truly a waste of my time.  GL going for round 2.  I truly doubt they will pull the viewers and 2nd go around. 

Aguilar Rubenss
Aguilar Rubenss

Its a free country,you dont have to watch it if you dont want to and if you think you can do better than any of these guys on the show try out its as simple as that.As for me,I like the show I dont tattoo but I am an artist and Im very impressed with the artwork Ive seen.However,yes I would be skeptical paying for some of the work Ive seen but all in all its a cool show.As for Kat Von D,oooooo mamacita but the best artist on her show is Corey,hes got his shit down tight.TEJANO 88

5555624
5555624

I think Shane is going to win, but I agree with the comment about screening the "canvases." Some have unrealistic ideas for the time involved, but the canvas with psoriasis outbreak and no backup canvas? As soon as you saw the guy, you knew something was wrong. I'd also like to hear some (honest) comments from the canvases about what they think of the tattoo they ended up getting.

D Perez2321
D Perez2321

I think Tommy has this in the bagbut does any one know how to become a human canvas for next season?

Fu Manchu
Fu Manchu

you could always just go get a tattoo from the artist... or does it have to be free?

Estebangallegosjr
Estebangallegosjr

I think those judges are making tattoos look bad and I think they need new judges

Tricia H.
Tricia H.

I just discovered the show last night. I, myself, am not an artist, but I do have great respect for the art and the people who do it. I enjoyed the show for the most part. I do believe they are setting the artist up for failure. Who can be expected to do a full head tattoo in 6 hours! I'm sure it can be done, but will not be the quality expected by the judges or the artist themselves. I feel they need a tattoo artist to screen the "canvases"  first to be sure the tattoo they want can realistically be done in the amount of time provided. I have seen several of the contestants work featured in tattoo magazines, and feel that none of the work shown in the show is a good representation of their abilities. As for attitudes, that's what a lot of people tune in for. But I am glad Al is gone. He was just down on everyone.

Ladybugman44
Ladybugman44

Al fliction, I guess you were wrong about the girls. You got sent home before both of them. You suck!!! Your a punk and just about everyone that I know that watches the show agrees with me. I don't know how you even made it on show to begin with. No talent, loser.

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