Caitlin and I have been watching the various tattoo reality shows on TV, which currently means NY Ink (featuring Ami James formerly of Miami Ink), and Spike’s Dave Navarro hosted Ink Masters, which is sort of a “Top Chef” or “Project Runway” of the tattoo world. Ink Master actually kind of stands out as a show because it has a lot of talent (you can see the cast bios and portfolio samples here) on it competing for the $100,000 prize. Except for one unfortunate guy that goes by “B-TAT“. We are literally talking scratcher-level stuff. I have no idea how they expected him to hold his own against the other artists, many of them top of their game. For example, the first challenge was tattooing a skull (of your own design — you could do anything you wanted as long as it was skull-themed) on a pig carcass. Here is the piece of junk that he did:
I wish I was pulling your leg but I’m not. It’s embarrassing, a tattoo artist that’s completely incapable of drawing a skull. I mean, the average child can draw better than that. It’s nuts. It became clear that he was one of these people that can’t draw at all but decided to become a tattoo artist anyway, with the reasoning that the job is mostly tracing (and admittedly it can be — there are many “tattoists” that can lay down a solid piece of flash but can’t draw an original creation to save their life). The second challenge, which was also the first elimination challenge and the one that got him kicked off the show, was a little better but it was still crap. The challenge was to do a cover-up, and he did some foo dog flash (while it seemed like everyone else drew their own custom work) with no changes of his own thrown in. Here’s how that went:
It might not be totally obvious in the photo but the tattoo is completely chewed up and will probably heal poorly, to say nothing of the horribly inconsistent linework (look at the curves and curls), incompetent symmetry, horrible shading, and so on. This guy wouldn’t even be a good tattoo artist in prison.
We’re suckers for reality TV here, I’m sorry to admit, so I’m sure we will keep watching the show. But it does have potential. There are one or two duds remaining to be kicked off, but beyond that, I’d feel confident recommending almost everyone competing to friends looking for a tattoo artist. We’ll see how the “drama” aspect of the show evolves. I suspect that some of them — “Al Fliction” springs to mind — may end up being more embarrassed about their behavior than “B-TAT” was of the tattos he did.
I could also fill pages snarking about Ami James. First of all his so-called “old school” behavior toward his employees is completely reprehensible in my opinion, but given the level of tattooing he does, he’s in no position to be judging (or teaching) others. He’s capable of doing a solid, black-outline, flat traditional tattoo that would have been acceptable in the mid-nineties, but he’s way out of his league in the modern tattoo world and doesn’t seem to be improving. For example, on a recent show a woman came in wanting a custom tattoo of butterflies all over her back. Here’s what he did to her:
I truly hate slagging someone’s tattoos, especially when they have a “deep” emotional meaning or purpose for the wearer, and I’m not going to say it’s an outright crap tattoo, but I will say that it’s a lazy, uninspired, sloppy, poorly thought out, badly laid-out tattoo that is way below the calibre of what people should expect these days. Like I said, this is a tattoo that you’d get from a street-level shop in 1995. Caitlin sums Ami up in one word — “mediocre”. However, he starts ever episode saying that his vision is to have his shop and his artist roster be not just the best in the city, but the best in the world. Tattoos like this are not going to get it to such a level. In fact, they’ll keep it from ever getting there. I feel aweful saying that, I hate being mean to people. But Ami doesn’t seem to have any trouble dishing out criticism on his apprentice, so maybe I am only the truthful voice of karma.
Other than that I had a disquieting day. I was sleeping in the front room of our studio rather than upstairs in the bedroom loft because the stairs are unneccessarily unpleasant. Normally I am an early riser but somehow today I slept until 10:30 and I would have slept longer had Caitlin not woken me up because she was leaving for work. Since then I’ve had a pounding headache, which on one hand is rare for me, but on the other hand I have been having them more often lately, feels like all the time. I can actually barely type and keep misspelling words, more like shuffling the letters into a randomized order, and keep pressing the spacebar in the middle of words. It helps a bit when I close my eyes to type oddly. Maybe I’m imagining that, but I am definitely not imagining how much my head hurts. And I’m sweating like crazy, gross, I know. Still feel dizzy, mentally tired, disoriented, confused, and… well… you know, here’s how I don’t feel: I don’t feel like complaining. So enough of that. Hope I make it through another night, because I still have a lot to do.
I also made a gigantic 16,200×8,400 pixel collage of my paintings and uploaded it to the custom fabric printing site Spoonflower and ordered a couple of yards. I think we’re going to make big floor pillows out of it or something. Not sure. But it’s inexpensive enough to justify the experiment. If it turns out nicely I may do some more with it. I’m also slowly chugging away on some software that converts my WordPress blog (or anyone’s I suppose) into big journals suitable for on-demand printing. I’m looking forward to turning my blog into a book. I was actually thinking that someone should write a Facebook app that at the end of the year takes all the photos you uploaded that year, arranges them into a scrapbook with people’s comments and all that, uploads it to an on-demand print company, and sends you this awesome yearbook. I’m sure there are millions of people who’d absolutely love to have that sort of 21st century photo album. Maybe this already exists. If it doesn’t, maybe I should write it… Unfortunately I have more good ideas than time.