Photo: Ben Cohen / Oxygen

If Music Be The Food Of Tats

…Fast forward. Rock and roll plus ribcage tattoos adds up to more Crackerjack than Memento.

Flash Challenge

The remaining artists convene at the Viper Room to draw cover art for a band called Plague Vendor. The challenge concept is on point, practically speaking -- who has more tats than band dudes? The band plays while the Inkers draw on black canvases and Romeo brags that he goes on tour with bands as their…tattoo…jester, I guess? Lara makes who-farted faces. Danny complains that he hates the Flash Challenges because he usually takes 40 hours to do a canvas like this, not one hour. Inkers near him's faces: "And?"

Joe Capobianco turns up to clock May May for a "children's-book illustration" color scheme; Romeo's Day of the Dead/Van Gogh hybrid is cool, but too small. Darnell wins and can look forward to an advantage in the main challenge. Willy pouts about this.

Ink Challenge

The show produces "live-music fans" who want "new school" tattoos. This tattoo style is described as turning "mundane ideas into outrageous concepts," as a steampunk macaw tat appears onscreen; there's got to be more to it than that, but we don't hear it, at least here. Oh, and the tats have to go on the skins' ribs. Classic Best Ink "throw too much stuff at the wall" maneuver, but the group response to the ribcage location (led by Amy's action-movie "noooooooooo!!") is pretty hilarious.

Darnell gets to pick his skin first. Not quite the heee-yoooge advantage Pete Wentz made it sound like.


Lara has a tattoo virgin, and Darnell is nervous about doing an accurate rendition of his skin's dad, but the headline is Danny, who's flailing at both the new-school aspect of the challenge, and the gap between what his skin wants and what's, you know, not fugly. Capobianco doesn't sugarcoat how bad he thinks Danny's drawing is, and the skin isn't backing down on the idea either. Danny grutters about his skin as he stalks off for a cigarette, "Dude, why are you being so picky and such a pain in the ass?" It's permanent body art, bro. Also, grow up. It's a customer-facing business; you want to work here? Close.

As Danny debates whether to stay in the competition at all, his skin drums his fingers and everyone else's clients cringe and moan at how much the outlining process hurts. Alayna's skin, a punkette calling herself "Bleach," is a fire-eater by trade, but keeps having to take dramatic ouchie breaks that Alayna says will only make the process more difficult when inking resumes. With half an hour to go and most of the design still not completed, Bleach can't take the pain anymore and bails entirely. Alayna is frustrated, but kind to Bleach about making her comfort a priority, and then the third act of our drama gets underway when Darnell's equipment breaks down. Alayna has nobody to use her equipment on at that point, so she lends Darnell hers.

Oh, and Danny sucks it up and tries to do the best he can with his skin's design. Yay! But only after sulking for close to two hours. Boo.

Biggest Gap Between Challenge Brief And Tattoo Art

Amy has a good idea with the Fibonacci seashell, but it doesn't seem new school, plus the Fibonacci/golden-mean sequence is hard to discern, and in a few places, the yellows are downright scabby. Honorable mention to Alayna for not even finishing, although that isn't her fault.

Tattoo I Would Consider Copying

Willy's gramophone, featuring a crocodile as the speaker, is great. The trilby! Love.

Client Who's Saving For Laser

Between the late start and the client's fundamentally cheesy idea, Danny's ends up resembling the fakey kids' drawings of bad-touching incidents on Law & Order: SVU.


Enlightening commentary from the panel: Sabina notes that Romeo's unicorn looks like a donkey, and compliments Alayna's professional handling of her client's meltdown; Hannah explains the new-school idea a bit better (if too late) when she talks about Joe's line weights, and has her customary good insights into composition balance. The educational remarks here make it all the more irritating that the show wastes time on the "make an Ed Hardy painting" Flash Challenges that tell us nothing about the history or basic requirements of the tattoo genre du jour.

Then Capo goes off on Danny about how it's his job to talk clients out of their shitty ideas and he doesn't want to hear excuses. Everyone else is cracking up, so it's pretty clearly just an episode of Capobianco Shtick Theater, but on the other hand, Capo's making some more good points about how it's an artist's job to talk clients into a drawing that 1) isn't lame and 2) is possible for the artist to execute. A key element of the competition, IMHO, so it's good to see the show looking at it. Danny takes the Irate Bellowing™ like a man and says that, given another chance, he wouldn't "go that way" with his attitude.

Darnell, Karly, and Joe finish on top. Darnell wins, even though the illustration style is kinda high-school newspaper op-ed art to me.

Those three pick Danny, Amy, and Alayna, which Alayna feels betrayed by, given that she lent Darnell her equipment. Willy concurs that Darnell should have put him in the bottom instead, since the judges would never send him home.

Surprisingly, Capo calls Amy out for a multi-front tattoo fail, and for finishing in the bottom a couple times previously, and she's given the boot.

Quote Du Jour

Skin Stefano's earnest "I want it to look like a buff unicorn" is a contender, but this week's crown goes to gracious realist Amy: "I wish I could have stayed and kept learning, but this isn't school, this is a competition."

Crackerjack Or Memento?

The ep should have explained the new-school style better, and the Flash Challenges feel increasingly useless; the hour should have been more fun than it was, especially if it's going to make my ass work on New Year's Day. It's a good Crackerjack tattoo, like a jackelope or something…but it's a still Crackerjack tattoo.

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