Local artist, Sarah Miller, is proving she’s a contender week after week on “Ink Master” and while her tattoos weren’t the judges favorites, the other contestants have taken notice and are gunning for her.
This week, the artists were put to the test by tattooing one of the hardest surfaces on the body, the inside of the mouth, for the flash challenge. Contestants had 30 minutes to work out a tattoo on their randomly assigned canvases on either the lip or the tongue.
“I have done lip tattoos before, so I wasn’t too worried,” said Miller. “I was more concerned that they had brushed their teeth before the challenge.”
While some artists rose to the occasion sticking to clean and bold words, others became adventurous with full designs and color (a no-no on the mouth due to fading). Some even attempted to tattoo the tongue, which Miller thought was a bit out of line.
“It’s hard to tattoo the inner mouth,” said Miller. “Too deep and the tattoo blows out, not deep enough and it doesn’t stay. It’s a real fine line. I didn’t think the guys that tattooed the tongue should have. You can damage the taste buds permanently and it was irresponsible.”
Miller’s final tattoo was a clean and simplistic word “Brave” with decorative text. The judges were pleased with her simple approach, though it did not land her in the top. The top artists in the flash challenge were Tatu Baby with her clean, simple wording and the clear winner, Clint Cummings with his excellently placed and executed script wording.
“My girl wanted ‘Brave’ on her lip,” said Miller. “She is the head of a modeling agency called Sugar and Spikes and she wanted the tattoo to remind her to be brave. Sometimes you just need that reminder that you are a strong person and you can do what needs to be done. I was [happy with the critique]. My lines were tight and my client was happy.”
For the elimination challenge, the contestants are continuing with the texture theme with the judges critiquing on how well you replicate texture with a terrifying horror tattoo in only six hours. The artists will use all forms of shading and highlights to make the tattoos come to life on the skin.
“I love adding texture to tattoos,” said Miller. It’s the only way to make them realistic and give them depth. I was confident that I would do well this challenge.”
With Cummings in charge of the human canvases, the contestants feared he’d give them the worst. In fact, during his on-show interview, he even said his goal was screw everyone. For Miller, that was assigning her the straight black and gray tattoo.
“Clint is still someone who I respect,” said Miller. “One of the reasons that he was gunning for me was because he recognized I was a good artist and he told me so on the show. I was actually pretty happy with my selection, but I wanted to mess with Clint. I knew he was going to try and gun for me so I wanted to make him over confident.”
For once, we finally see Miller during the elimination challenge and it’s going so well, she finished her grayscale tattoo early. With the extra time, Miller and her client worked together to continue adding elements to her tattoo demon including a jack in the box, though the judges cautioned her if she starts something to make sure she had enough time to finish it with style. Prior to the critique, Miller seemed to be feeling extremely confident in her design and choices that she would stand strong in this challenge.
“My canvas wanted a psycho clown and it was a black/gray piece,” said Miller. “I loved what we came up with. I started sketching and it just evolved. This was a fun challenge for me.”
Back in the room before critiques, the group starts arguing again with Tatu Baby and Mark Matthews going after each other on tattoo style and abilities.
“I was actually in the kitchen for the fight,” said Miller. “I thought that Mark was feeling a little insecure and lashed out because of that.”
Starting with the winner of the flash challenge, Cummings was attached for many of his decisions and lack of texture in the tattoo. Jamie received rave reviews for the texture of his tattoo, but the problem was the difficulty in reading the piece unless you were up close. Kay Kutta whose attitude has really irked many contestants, received nothing but bashing from the judges who were not happy with any part of the tattoo.
While Miller received great comments for her texture, the judges really attacked her use of time. While she finished early, they felt she didn’t focus enough on the original elements of the tattoo in the hair and teeth but choose to add on to the tattoo. Steve Teftt received great comments for his layer and texture which made his tattoo standout significantly against the rest.
“I wasn’t happy with the comments that I received,” said Miller. “Objectively looking at my piece, I see where I could have tightened up the design, but I didn’t want to do too much texture to make what I did do muted.”
The common theme of critiques was mismanaged time with the tattoos and lack of actual texture in the tattoos (on a week that is the focus of judging). The only contestant to receive nothing but glowing reviews was Jesse and Steve who executed the challenge with perfection.
When the contestants head back to the room, Tray announced to the group that he was having health problems as a result of a blood clot that was creating a vision loss. As he walked away from the room, it appeared as though he collapsed.
“Tray wasn’t feeling good when we were waiting and the decision to take him to the hospital was the right one,” said Miller. “He should have been taking his medication, but hindsight is always 20/20. The producers were on top of the situation and I feel that they handled things correctly.”
When the judges start picking the top and bottom, Kay Kutta, “Big Daddy” Tray Benham and Mark were picked apart for their lack of judgment and poor decision. Each person was missing a very critical part of their tattoo. In the top, Steve Tefft ranks high with Jesse Smith who finally balanced his color pallet properly.
“Jesse and Steve were the best tattoos there,” said Miller. “Of the two, Jesse’s piece was my favorite.”
While divided, the winner of this week’s challenge goes to Tefft. Jesse and Steve have been battling close for the top spot so it’s no surprise it came down to them. In the bottom, Kay Kutta, Matthews and Benham found themselves on the chopping block. Kay Kutta immediately starts begging for his life in the competition while the judges attack his lack of heart. While Matthews failed the challenge, he has shown great heart and technique. Even though Tray wasn’t there, he still found himself on the chopping block with his lack of texture and unfortunate due to his tattoo, not the medical issues.
“I didn’t think that Tray should have gone home for his tattoo,” said Miller. “Kay failed the texture challenge and it was a weak design.”
Our Pittsburgh girls continues to shine on “Ink Master” for another week as we head to Episode six which Miller tells me is pin-ups and guns. Tune in Tuesday at 10 p.m. on Spike to see how she does this week.