In the three seasons of Spike TV's Ink Master last night's finale was, as Oliver Peck remarked, the hardest to judge. Tatu Baby, Jime Litwalk, and Joey Hamilton stood on the stage and in front of America with their 35-hour masterpieces. Here's my "Wednesday quarterback judging" of the final tattoos.
I thought that Baby's curvaceous American Indian woman and wolf was slick. The judges didn't like that elements were floating and the wolf had no visible body but I don't mind a collage tattoo. What I didn't appreciate was putting a pin-uppy woman and realistic wolf together as the juxtaposition of style was far too vast for that real estate. And to get nit-picky, which for $100,000 and a feature in INKED I can be, I think she could have been more detailed in the headdress and grass.
He was my favorite going into last night (as soon as Craig Foster was eliminated). The whole competition Litwalk looked like a master tattooer among apprentices, but he stumbled over himself with his piece de resistance. I actually thought it was the worst of the three, and had it only been the second worst, he may have taken home the title. His lines, coloring, shading—mostly so with the skulls background–were beyond fantastic. The sternum skull looked crude, the eagle (the focal point) had his wings clipped, and the animals hardly interacted. What really ran Litwalk into trouble was his selling of the piece as a "battle royale." If he had couched the eagle, dragon and snake as protectors of the wearer rather than beasts battling it out he would have been on firmer ground. When it came down to it the piece didn't live up to his hype.
I really wanted him to have shaky lines if only because I think he's got that Robin Thicke look in his three-piece suit and I wanted the drop a "Blurred Lines" reference, but his tattoo was smooth. Hamilton was a front-runner the entire season but his mermaid tattoo demanded the title for him. The judges main critiques were that there was not enough black, the colors were too similar, and the mermaid looked lifeless. Yes, the tattoo needed some black so that it would pop more and won't fade into a blur of blue in 20 years. On the colors, as a lover of the life aquatic, the ocean is muted and monotone. Had Hamilton added super bright contrasting colors the mermaid would look like she was on set of Disney's "The Little Mermaid." On her visage, I like my mermaids to look bored, sad, sullen. The fantasy is that this sexual being is floating through life waiting for a human man to rescue her.
What I really liked about Hamilton's art were the dimensions, the turtle, how it flowed on the woman's leg, and the way the light from sun cut through the water and illuminated the mermaid's hair. Oh yeah and the boobs. This is a man whose perception of breasts hasn't been tainted by boob jobs as the mermaid's nipples hang naturally. It is an Ink Masterpiece.