Ink Master ended in dramatic fashion this week as 16 of the top tattoo artists in the country were whittled down to three who faced off in a live finale.
The Spike TV reality show pitted the artists against one another in various tattoo challenges throughout the season, testing their technical skills and creativity. After each competition host Dave Navarro and a judging panel made up of renowned tattoo artists would evaluate, with one of them going home.
Tuesday’s finale of Ink Master came down to the final three contestants: Katherine ‘Tatu Baby’ Flores, a tattoo artist in Miami; Joey ‘Hollywood’ Hamilton, tattoo artist from Las Vegas; and Jime Litwalk, an Orlando-based artist.
The two-hour finale started with a recap of the season, and featured the three remaining artists applying a tattoo that showcased all the skills they learned during the season. They were able to chose the location of their canvas as well as its design. Each contestant was given 35 cumulative hours to finish their tattoo.
The finale showed Tatu Baby, who crafted a back tattoo of a half-naked Native American with a wolf. The judges pointed out some minor points about its continuity and showed some areas that could have been improved.
Joey designed a half-naked mermaid on a leg, which the judges liked overall but pointed out was missing some contrast.
The final contestant critiqued was Jime, who chose to tattoo a traditional battle royale on a chest and stomach. The judges said it lacked punch, and could have used some sharper colors.
In the end the judges chose Joey as the winner. He received the show’s $100,000 cash prize, a feature in Inked magazine and the title Ink Master.
The show wasn’t a total loss for the other finalists. Jime said Ink Master has opened up doors for him that will help his career skyrocket.
I get the exposure,” Litwalk, 38, said Wednesday morning. “All the people who tuned in and watched, I’ve got a new fan base I need to capitalize on. I get what I put into it. It’s not the end for me. I’ve been doing this 20 years. I was part of a fantastic show. I will use it to strengthen my clientele base and produce tattoos that are works of art.”
The show also features a twist unique among reality competitions. Contestant Kyle Dunbar won the fan voting portion of the show, which gives him to come back for Season 4 of Ink Master and again compete for the grand prize.