After the elimination of Tim Lease, the artists begin the episode by gathering in a warehouse for their first flash challenge. The judges announce that each week, a pair of Ink Master veterans will return to the competition to coach the contestants. This week, it was season 3 winner Joey Hamilton and season 8 winner Ryan Ashley who came back as coaches. The coaches will not only lead their teams to victory for the flash and elimination challenges, they will have the opportunity to compete for a $25,000 prize at the live finale. However, in the words of Dave Navarro, "To defeat the enemy, you must know the enemy," so each team of artists will be coached by the opposite sex. Therefore, Ryan Ashley coached the men and Joey Hamilton coached the men this week.
For their first flash challenge, the teams were tasked with creating an 8x12 ft design using different colored coffee beans. The key word of this challenge was shading and the winning team was given the power to assign the skulls in the elimination challenge. Using only coffee beans, the women created a landscape design, while the men made a castle. And although the judges had positive critiques for both teams, they decided that the men's team had the best design overall in a 2-to-1 vote.
For the elimination tattoo, the artists were assigned black-and-grey tattoos—a nod to judges Hamilton and Ashley. The men were given chance to pick the tattoos for the women and the claws came out right away.
The men's team was up first during the judging process, with Cam starting off strong with a bold cathedral tattoo. Peck praised the line work in the design, but knocked Cam on his inconsistent saturated blacks.
Next up, Jake was told his piece was tonal but the technical application of the design was beautiful.
Big Jaz was told his tattoo was big and tough, but was criticized for the lack of contrast between the skull and the headdress.
"I don't like it," was the first thing Nunez said when he saw Tito's tattoo, exclaiming that the piece looked like a coverup because of the lack of balance.
For Pon, Peck liked the peppery shading but told him that he needed to be able to do soft, smooth blends.
Nunez pointed out the lack of contrasting shading styles between the background and the heart of Justin's tattoo.
Peck complimented the shading from the lantern in Creepy Jason's design, however, he noted that the rest of the piece was messy.
Fon was told that he had the most skills so far with his shader, but Peck pointed out that the unfinished leaves were a "bummer."
First off, from the women's team, Holly was complimented for pulling off multiple tones of shading.
Peck pointed out the weakness in the line work of Ashley's design, while coach Hamilton weighed in that this artist had one of the most difficult clients of the week.
Laura was praised by Peck for her shading in this design but was told that the contrast was somewhat inconsistent throughout the piece.
Nunez enjoyed the rich blacks in the fingers of Ash's tattoo, however, he tore apart the shape of the world in the design.
Peck called Pony's outline challenged and said the piece was rough overall.
Nunez told Alexis that it looked like the woman in her tattoo had just come out of a coal mine and the design overall was too dark.
Janelle was told that her tattoo was over shaded and over worked.
Elva told that the tattoo wasn't proportional and the design was heavily challenged.
Dani was complimented for the shading in her tattoo and showed technical ability in the design.
When it came down to deciding the best tattoo of the day, the judges decided in a 2-to-1 vote that Fon was the winner, despite having an unfinished design. His win allowed the men's team the opportunity to determine one artist who deserved to be in the bottom three. The men's team picked Alexis to be considered for elimination, with the judges selecting Elva and Big Jaz. And before the judges could make their choice, Elva decided to eliminate herself from the competition for mental health reasons. This meant, that because a member of the women's team went home, Ryan Ashley would be moving forward to compete at the live finale as a coach.
What do you think of this week's episode? Do you think the right artist went home? What was your favorite tattoo from this week? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.