Flash Challenge: Contrast
I've always felt as though contrast was a strong point in my work so I was pretty confident going into this challenge. We were given 4 hours to paint these helmets with enamel model paint. It's not the medium I would have chosen given the option, but I did the best I could with what we were offered. I really think airbrushes would have made more sense. My strategy was to put as much energy as I could into the upper part of the helmet and if I had time left over I would start on the bottom part. Obviously I ran out of time:) All in all, I had fun with this flash challenge. I definitely feel as though Clint should have won that challenge. He did a great job of creating contrast while also keeping to the theme.
Elimination Challenge: Fantasy Tattoos
I was pretty excited when Clint gave me C3PO and R2D2. I think, just like everyone else, that I would have enjoyed tattooing Yoda, but C3PO and R2D2 would have been my second choice. I knew going into it that I wouldn't have enough time to do the both of them so in order to convince my client to do just one of them I created a full composition of the two of them standing side by side and told her that if she really wanted the both of them she could get R2D2 added later. With a minor bit of resistance she eventually let me have my way and the above picture was the final result. I was pretty happy with how everything turned out but would love to go into it one more time to bump the contrast a bit more, tighten a few things up and smooth out a couple fades.
Flash Challenge: Attention to Detail
I've only used a dremel once and drawing a hunter's dog, scaring pheasants out of the brush, realistic without reference tends to be pretty difficult for someone who lacks a photographic memory and dremeling skills. They came down pretty hard on Tatu Baby and although I think that her piece wasn't super strong I can definitely relate to the difficulty in trying to draw someone's dog without reference. I really wish I had talked this guy into something a little more fun. This was probably my least favorite flash challenge up to this point in the show.
Elimination Challenge: Half Naked
Back in 2007, I decided to push aside reproductive work and focus solely on creating my own voice as an artist. This was a very difficult decision for me to make. I had managed to create two separate followings, one that really dug my custom work and one that appreciated my reproductive work. Sometimes I miss doing reproductive work, but I'm really happy that I chose to focus on my custom work. It has, not only allowed me to create my own voice, but it has also kept me artistically stimulated over the years. Although my custom work wasn't as strong back in 2007, I sometimes think that I would have made a better competitor for "Ink Master" back then. In deciding to focus more on my custom work, I did less and less black and grey work. I honestly think the last time that I have done black and grey, prior to the show, was probably about 4-5 years ago. I'm obviously a bit rusty:)
My initial intent was to draw up the pin up in my style, but I knew the judges wanted to see something different out of me. In choosing to create this piece in black and grey, as well as push more towards the reproductive side of things, I felt as though I could not only cut down on my prep time, but also show the judges I was capable of doing something other then googley eyes and teeth.
During this process I ran into a number of issues that I feel kept me from producing the best piece I could. One of the first things I felt made this tattoo suffer was the overall size of the piece. We were told that the pin up had to be full body and being that my client was about 4'10", the total size of the pin-up ended up being around 12" max. That may seem big, but at that size it left the face at less than an inch tall and the hands even smaller. I'm not saying that it can't be done but being that I was way out of practice it made things really difficult for me. Another big issue that I hadn't really counted on was trying to do black and grey with a rotary. I've been using rotaries now for almost 3 years and have never done black and grey with them. My buddy Daniel Farren warned me that the approach was a little different but I honestly didn't have any time to practice before I left for the show. One of the things that I couldn't account for was that my client had stretch marks on the upper part of her calf. Once I started to tattoo the pin-ups face they really started to push through and although the tattoo looks really red and irritated I'm pretty confident that this tattoo will be fine once it settles down. If anything, I may need to tighten a few things up and push some of the darks a bit. I really wish they would have wiped the tattoo down a bit before photographing it but I think that would have worked against their need to nail me to the wall;)
Flash Challenge: Cutthroat Clipping
I'm sure a lot of you were as confused as I was when it was revealed that we were going to be cutting hair for our 3rd flash challenge. At this point in filming I began to realize that entertainment is starting to compromise the integrity of the competition. Rather then focusing on the fact that some of the flash challenges/decisions made by the producers/judges aren't quite lining up, I decided to try and have fun with everything and not focus so much on whether or not anything made sense or was fair. All that aside, one of the reasons I decided to be a part of this show was for the experience and so far it has given me the opportunity to try new things I would have never done if it weren't for this show. I haven't had too much experience cutting hair so I was kind of excited to see what I could come up with. I originally wanted to put a more detailed character in the back of this guy's head, but once I realized how difficult it was to get detail in hair, I ended up dumbing it down a bit. I wanted the end result to read well and be as clean as I could make it. Although it may seem as though I was mocking this competition and not taking it seriously I was honestly just doing what first popped into my head. There isn't much prep time for these flash challenges so a lot of what I did was me just kicking out what I could off the top of my head comfortably. Apparently Oliver wasn't feeling it;)
Tattoo Challenge: American Traditional
Although I've never actually done a traditional tattoo before, I've always had respect for the artists who were able to pull off this particular style well. This turned out to be a very difficult challenge for me because I had to shut off my artistic urge to tweak things out and exaggerate the composition. In the end I was relatively happy with the outcome.
Flash Challenge: Semi Nude
When I found out what the flash challenge for this episode was I was super excited. I've done a substantial amount of airbrushing in the past and camouflaging a human into the wall seemed like a really fun idea. The question I've been receiving the most since this particular episode aired is "why did you choose the grey wall of shame?". The reason I chose that location is because it was in the shade and the producers (as well as myself) were concerned about my bald head getting sun burned. They offered to give me a hat to wear during this challenge, but the only one they had laying around was a Rock Star Energy drink hat and I really wasn't tryin to rep Rock Star on national television. The second question I've been getting a lot is "why did your piece suck so bad?". My piece sucked so bad because my airbrush broke about 10 minutes into the challenge. The producers were kind enough to give me another airbrush, but me being the genius that I am, broke that one as well. I was then forced to complete the duration of the challenge painting the model with my hands. I eventually got to the point where I realized that there was no chance that I was going to win this challenge so I decided to have a little fun with production and draw some googley eyes with teeth on the models ass as well as a "Rock Star" logo on her upper back (you'll notice that they blurred out the yellow star so that you can't see the actual logo). Needless to say, production didn't find that funny;)
Tattoo Challenge: Cover-up
Cover ups have always been a thorn in my side ever since I started tattooing, so once I heard that we were doing them as a challenge, I really wasn't all that excited. On top of that, Kay Kutta had also made it pretty clear that he was gunnin for Steve and myself so I knew I was gonna get a hard one.
When Kay started handing out skulls there were two canvas' that I definitely didn't want. One was the one that Steve got (a bunch of random vines and flowers) and the other was the one that Jaimie got (I honestly don't know what the original piece was, but it was jammed into a little place on this ladies chest with no room to breath). Mine wasn't the easiest of the bunch, but luckily my client was very open to my ideas so it made things so much easier.
On a side note: I just wanted to say that although Kay Kutta comes off as a dick head on the show, I, personally, enjoyed his company. He definitely came at some of the cast members pretty abrasively, but there is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that they don't show. Pretty much everything negative that you see about each character on the show is typically counter balanced by a lot more positivity that, from what I can see so far, isn't shown. Whether you enjoy his personality or not, Kay was one of the few people on the show that was consistently staying up late to work on his tattoo design for the next day. He put everything he had into everything he did and for that I have a lot of respect for him.
Although the photo above makes the tattoo look super faded, it was actually still pretty dark and bold. I honestly had no idea as to how I was going to cover it up. There wasn't much space to the left and right of the tattoo to counter balance the dark that I was going to have to put over the clover to cover it up so I was forced to figure out a design that would lure your eye above and below the dark space. I originally had talked to the client about doing some sort of bio-mech, but once I got into sketching "Al the Acid eating Angler Fish" was the only thing I could see.
The judges really didn't seem too interested in the story behind this tattoo and Terrell Suggs kept calling it the "Finding Nemo" fish, but to those of you who care to hear about it a bit the story goes as follows:
"Of the few angler fish that reside in the lower depths of the Creotic Sea, Al is the one that all the squirrel tell their youth to keep them from following their greed and pursuing the wealth of the golden acorn. Getting eaten by an angler fish is never fun, but getting eaten by an angler fish on acid is even worse. Al grew up eating squirrel just like most of his kind, but somewhere along the way his taste for squirrel became rancid. Before long, he couldn't stand it. The thought of squirrel began to drive him mad. He eventually got to the point where acid was his only way of escape. It started out as a few hits here and there and eventually turned into something he did daily. Psychotic thoughts of torturing squirrel swirled through his head regularly. The thoughts soon festered up to reality and every squirrel who crossed his path lived long enough to regret their pursuit for wealth."
As I'm sure most of you can imagine, time has been pretty scarce since the airing of "Ink Master". Prior to the show I was pretty bad about updating my blog, however I really feel as though now, more then ever, it is important for me to stay connected to you all. My intention with these blog posts is to show you the work I did on the show as well as explain anything that may have not been explained. Hopefully this will help clear up any questions you guys might have as to why I did some of the things I did on the show:)
THE MORGUE: SNAKE AND DAGGER TATTOO ON FAKE ARM
The first day on the show was super overwhelming. I've never been a big fan of being in front of cameras and they pretty much miked us up and threw us to the wolves. My anxiety was through the roof and I was really concerned as to whether or not I'd even be able to tattoo in this state. Prior to arriving at the morgue I was unaware as to who else was going to be on the show, so once they dropped us off I quickly looked around to see if there was anyone who I recognized. Right off the cuff I saw Tatu Baby and Ron Givens. Tatu Baby and I had been friends prior to the show so I was super excited to see that I had a friend in the mix. Ron and I had never met in person but we had spoken numerous times via the internet. Aside from the two of them the rest of the cast was a mystery to me. Being that there are so many awesome artists hitting the scene these days, I was pretty confident that there was definitely gonna be some talent scattered amongst the group.
So we're all standing around introducing ourselves to one another when Dave, Chris and Oliver come out and tell us what our first challenge is. I'm really trying to pay attention, but my mind is racing so much that all I remember hearing is Dead People, Snake and Dagger tattoo, and three hours. I immediately start drawing the tattoo design in my head. Knowing that I'm not the fastest tattoo artist in the world, I realize that I'm gonna hafta dumb the design down a bit so that I can get something on there of substantial size. I typically do larger scale work so drawing up a design that I can do in 3 hours is gonna be hard for me to gauge.
Eventually the Judges stop talking and invite us into the morgue. Prior to this point I honestly thought we were going to be tattooing dead people. I've never seen a dead person before so I'm kinda freaking out a bit. Between seeing a dead person for the first time and being on national television, I seriously thought I was gonna pass out. Dave, of course, announces that we're not tattooing dead people so now all I gotta do is deal with the cameras. We finally get let loose on the fake body parts and for the first time since the show started I felt focused. I buckled down, sketched a snake and dagger on the arm and started tattooing. I was feeling pretty good about the sketch I had down and went to run my first line. The fake arm was really difficult to tattoo. I had to go over every line a couple times just to get it in. Initially I was kinda freaking out a bit, but I took a quick gander around and noticed that everyone else was having the same problems.
Three hours passed very quickly, but I was pretty happy with what I had gotten done. At this point I was more concerned with laying a solid tattoo and not embarrassing myself on national television then I was with winning the flash challenge.
TATTOO CHALLENGE: TATTOOED VIRGINS
We get back to the studio and Dave tells me that being that I won the flash challenge I've been given the opportunity to hand out all the skulls and decide which tattoos go to each artist. I wasn't aware of this twist, so I immediately go from being stoked to pick out my canvas, to freaking out that I'm about to make a bunch of enemies on day one. Luckily, I really didn't know what any of the artist's weak points were so they really couldn't take it too personal when I handed them a shitty tattoo. My first priority was just to make sure that I had a piece that I could have fun with. I ended up scoring a canvas who seemed really open to my suggestions. She had some mild ideas as to what she wanted, but really enjoyed my work so it was pretty easy to bend her. Prior to the show I had a concept that had been floating around in my brain for awhile. It was called "Three Blind Vice". The initial concept didn't really consist of Mice, but the client really liked my rodents so she asked if we could get some in there. The concept was supposed to illustrate things that distract us (or blind us) from moving forward. The vision I had for this concept, prior to working with my canvas, was going to consist of humanoid characters blinded by Money, Religion and Technology, but once my client and I started brainstorming she suggested drugs as a blinder. I really liked that idea so I put everything together and the above tattoo was the result. I articulated the concept on the show, but I guess they didn't have enough time to include it;)
So one of my favorite artists and friend, Electric Pick, is now taking pre-orders for his new book "Red Box". The first 100 people to buy a book from him will receive a limited edition hardcover book with a sketch from Mr. Pick himself. For more information please visit his blog post with more details here. There are also a few cameo pages from myself and a bunch of other super talented artists;)