“Meet Your Maker”
This season features 18 artists: nine pairs of masters and their apprentices. The competitors include Chris Blinston (master), Tyler Nolan (apprentice); Big Ceeze (master), Kito (apprentice); Miami Burgess (master), Craig Foster (apprentice); Erik Campbell (master), Marisa LaRen (apprentice); MV (master), Brian Stephens (apprentice); Matt O’Baugh (master), Katie McGowan (apprentice); Earl Noble (master), Dave Clarke (apprentice); St. Marq (master), Ryan Hadley (apprentice); Kruseman (master), and Duffy Fortner (apprentice). Some of these pairs currently work together, some do not; some are competing, some are working together.
In the first challenge, master and apprentice competed head-to-head on a tattoo design that they chose and agreed upon. The judges critiqued the tattoos without knowing who did which one. The results were almost split down the middle: about half of the winners were the masters and about half were the apprentices.
Only the losers of the first challenge competed in the elimination challenge. Each artist was assigned a canvas, and was instructed to do whatever they wanted. Kito had an immediate disadvantage when his canvas decided that he didn’t want to risk a bad tattoo and walked out of the competition. Kito then decided to tattoo himself. There were a few very good tattoos and a few bad ones. Unlike previous seasons, though, none were horrible.
This year, the human canvas jury was given a new “power.” In addition to voting an artist into the bottom, the canvas with the “worst tattoo” would also attend the elimination ceremony to provide some comments. The jury voted Duffy’s cartoon squirrel, which received positive feedback from the judges, as the worst—even over the objections of the canvas herself. In this reviewer’s opinion, this is one of the weaknesses of “democratic” judging: the jury voted Duffy’s tattoo the worst based solely on their own individual tastes rather than on the skill displayed. The judges themselves said that they would never have voted Duffy into the bottom.
The other three artists that were called to the elimination ceremony were Brian Stephens, Chris Blinston, and Ryan Hadley. Brian was eliminated.