This week, the judges flipped the switch for the contestants by moving directly into the elimination tattoo. For the main challenge, the artists were stripped of their teams and thrown into the battle field without the help of coaches. Artistry was the focus of today's challenge and the artists were told that their tattoos would be judged blind. And to allow their full creative potential, they were given complete control of the style and subject of their design.
Despite having the advantage of controlling the style and subject of their tattoo, this week presented a challenge for one of the competition's top tattooers. Five hours into the tattoo, Pony Wave's canvas tapped out from the pain and threw a wrench into what would have likely been a high for the realism artist.
Going into the blind critique, the artists gathered and watched their tattoos be judged by Peck, Nunez, and Navarro on a monitor. Laura Marie's Japanese inspired design was first up on the chopping block, with Nunez noting the clean outlines and application of the piece.
Next up, Jake was complimented for his execution and Peck appreciated the varied techniques used to create the appearance of feathers.
"I like a lot of things about this tattoo," shared Peck of Ash's design. And despite receiving a number of positive critiques from Peck, Nunez noted the shading on the nose negatively distorted the tattoo.
The judges appreciated the line work and creativity of Creepy Jason's design and in the blind judging they guessed it was tattooed by a woman because of the color palette.
Holly's design was knocked on readability and the tattoo was called the "oompa loompa of traditional owls."
The judges loved Alexis's illustration, however, they noted that her color saturation was muddy and the line work missed the mark.
The judges loved this Oliver Peck inspired piece designed by Pon and remarked on the clean application of the tattoo.
Although Nunez loved the imagery of Tito's mask tattoo, he couldn't look pass the myriad of problems on the application side.
"It's super slick," said Peck of Ashley's black-and-grey rose. He went on to compliment the illustrative quality of the leaves and the precise shading in the folds of the petals.
Although Nunez noted Dani's tattoo had a pretty face, he went on to say that the piece lacked in the contrast department.
Janelle nailed the outline of her bite the bullet rose, but Nunez wished she'd been more creative when designing the leaves.
Peck appreciated the shading in Fon's surrealistic tattoo, however, he knocked the front runner when it came to the shaky line at the top of the design.
The judges enjoyed the artistry of Cam's design and remarked that he found the perfect way to put white into a tattoo.
Last, Navarro loved the center of Pony's tattoo. but they couldn't get past the piece being unfinished.
After evaluating each of the tattoos, the judges brought in the artists to learn who crafted each design, with the top slot going to Pon. The lowest ranked tattoo was Pony's unfinished rose and the second lowest tattoo went to Alexis. To determine who would be going home this week, the bottom two artists were brought down and told to each select an artist that would be joining them in a head-to-head face off—with Pony selecting Tito and Alexis selecting Ash. Tito and Ash were given the opportunity to select the style and subject of the tattoos, settling on neo traditional lady faces.
In the face off challenge, the judges loved Ash's neo traditional tattoo—both for the beautiful design and solid application.
Peck enjoyed the application of the hair in Alexis's design, but noted that many of the outlines looked rough and Navarro disliked the stark shading in the face.
Although the judges liked the legible illustration of Tito's tattoo, they were quick to add that the application was extremely messy.
Pony's tattoo was praised for having a beautiful face, but Peck thought that it would need another session because of the light application of shading.
At the end of the day, it was Pony who was sent home—leaving Ash, Alexis, and Tito to fight another day. What do you think of this week's episode? Do you think the right artist went? Which tattoo do you think was the best of the bunch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.