1. What does Dave Navarro know about tattooing? Why is he a judge? He has some pretty awful tattoos!
HA! True, I do have some awful ones, but I also have some really amazing work done by some amazing artists, Mark Mahoney, Freddy Negrete, Kat Von D, Oliver Peck, Bob Roberts, Paul Stottler, Henk Schiffmacher, to name a few… I have been touring and visiting shops since the late 80s and some pieces were well thought out and executed while others were simply bad choices made while wandering around unfamiliar towns loaded on heroin. I suppose it’s safe to say that I have made some good choices and I have made some bad ones as well, much like life… My body kind of reads like a living diary. Regardless, my role on the show is that of a collector and client. While Olly and Chris comment on the technical side of tattooing, I simply comment from the standpoint of a client. Someone who KNOWS what both bad and good choices are. I am the judge on the show who can relate with the canvasses we bring on to get tattooed. I also ask the questions that some may be asking at home. For instance, I may ask Oliver or Chris why one tattoo is technically more sound than another, even though both images may read well on the screen. My other role? I simply get the rules out, keep an eye on the clock and let everyone know what’s happening during the day. That’s pretty much it.
2. RE: Jacked tattoos – Do the canvasses complain to you guys/the show? Do they attempt to get them fixed by the artist?
They don’t really complain to the judges much as we have very little contact with the clients. They may complain to the show but I wouldn’t know about that. Oliver, Chris and I pretty much have our hands full each day. As for getting work fixed or finished, that’s up to the client. If they want to see their artist again, it’s up to them. I think that there is a built in understanding of risk as the clients sign up to get tattooed by someone they don’t know on TV for free.
3. I think last night was the first Flash Challenge that actually involved tattooing flash. Why don’t you do more of those and fewer “paint models to look like walls” Flash Challenges?
Yeah that’s a good question. There are a few more tattoo related flash challenges coming up but at the end of the day it’s TV and they like to have a broad array of challenges and frankly different stuff to look at. The flash challenges are there for artists to win an advantage while teaching the non-artist minded viewer at home what we are looking for each week. Many people who watch the show aren’t artists and may not really get what the criteria is from week to week. This way, they get a quick education while the artists get to try to win an upper hand.
4. When deciding who to send home, do you only consider the tattoo you’re judging or the contestant’s entire body of work so far?
Many things go into the evaluation. The tattoo of the day, the history of the artist on the show, the likelihood that they may or may not fuck up someone down the road and the challenge of the week. The critiques get cut WAY down for TV. The reality is that we spend several hours looking at the work, taking notes, discussing the work and considering each artist’s tattoo. When we are up on the judging table, each one of us talks to each artist for 5-10 minutes each. It all gets whittled down to make an hour program. It may play on the show that we just give a comment or two and make a call but that isn’t at all how it goes. It’s just that an hour on TV with commercials is about 44 minutes actual show time. There is a lot to cover in 44 minutes!
5. How does one become a human canvass or apply to be a competitor?
I get asked one of these two questions just about everyday. Seems like it would be obvious to just go to the Spike TV website but I will include the link here anyway: Inkmaster Casting
6. I want to know why most of the artists this season seem like such a-holes?! Did they present themselves that way when being considered for the show and were they picked based on the attitudes possibly pushing the ratings? And a deeper question, do you think the petty attitudes of these artists tarnishes the industry in any way?
Well that is actually a question for the casting department. I have nothing to do with all that but to answer your questions, I think that what we have is simply a cross section of any group of people regardless of what they do for a living. (However, the creative types do tend to be a bit more dramatic… I am no exception in my workplace!) While some artists are more aggressive and over the top, others just aren’t. Tatu Baby and Jessie, for instance, are pretty level headed and all around nice people. We are also seeing a lot more of what goes on in the house this season, which may contribute to the sense of there being more drama. The truth is that we, the judges, don’t see any of their behavior or how they interact until the show airs. We stay in our own space while they do what they do. We don’t want anyone’s personality affecting our decision making so we stay pretty clear of them.
7. I’ve noticed from the Ink Master website, that many of the artists’ work just doesn’t seem to be on the same level as others. Are lesser-talented artists added to the show to see if they rise to the occasion, or is it more like American Idol where the bad ones are aired to give America something to laugh at?
Well I don’t have a hand in selecting the artists so it’s difficult to answer. I do know that more often than not, some artists excel in certain areas while they may have less experience in others. An example would be Jessie being a strong New School contender while struggling with American Traditional. Baby’s first few designs were rough but she did great with the New School piece. Canvass and design selection can make or break a challenge too. Last season there were 10 artists while there are 16 this season. The more competitors we bring in, the wider the playing field will appear. I can tell you that no artist has been brought in for America’s amusement. We are fully aware that these aren’t songs. They are permanent works that will be a part of someone for life…
8. There seems to be a lot of animosity this season , especially from the artists towards the judges. How do you guys, the judges, keep your cool, and not blow your stacks?!
I haven’t noticed an unwarranted amount of animosity from anyone. However I said it last week to Clint. They all know what they are getting into, especially after having seen season one, and they all went through great lengths to get in the competition. They can disagree, agree, complain, ignore any and all of the comments, but at the end of the day… What is voted is what goes. Sure, things get heated sometimes but this is a contest about an art form which is ultimately subjective in some cases, however the technical aspects Chris and Oliver weigh in on are pretty standard expectations. This group has an advantage over the last group. Last season, nobody had any idea what they were in for. This season they do.
9. TEACH! Take 4mins out of each episode and teach… Health disclaimers etc! How many Ink Shops are opening wreaking havoc on human skin? I also feel there should be 2nd (runner up), and 3rd place prizes.
It’s not our job to teach anyone anything. These people are all artists that went through apprenticeships and training and have had to struggle while climbing the ranks of artistry in their hometowns. Tattooing is a sacred craft that is passed down from artist to artist. Handing out lessons on TV would not only be disrespectful to those who have taken the time and dedication to master their practice, it would be a irresponsible move as well… Potentially leading non artists to think they may know how to tattoo after watching a show and fully jacking somebody up. We are a competition, that’s all. Not a school or a educational health program or tool. As for runners up? That is not the show we are doing. This is a winner takes all event. The built in consolation prizes are the fact that artists get to show their work to millions of people each week and potentially build up their own businesses and clientele.
10. Does it make the contestants nervous when the judges walk around and watch them work?
I really don’t think so. Most of them have spent their time tattooing in shops that are also social environments. People walk around, talk to each other, check out each other’s work all day. Pretty impressive actually. I see artists with people peering over their shoulders all the time. I can’t imagine someone doing that to me while I lay down guitar tracks.