On every season of Ink Master, the producers develop elimination challenges designed to test artists of all levels of experience. And while there are dozens of tattoos over the course of 11 seasons that have proved difficult for the contestants, we've narrowed down the top 10 most challenging tattoo prompts in the show's history. From tricky locations to problematic skin types to a shocking 4-on-1 tattoo—even a pro could fumble during these nearly impossible challenges.
Virgin Canvases: Season 5
Back in season 5, the artists were tasked with inking tattoo virgins. Giving someone their first tattoo can be a walk in the park, however, it's pretty hardcore to have your first tattoo session last for 6 hours.
Under Chins: Season 10
While not an elimination tattoo, the three coaches on season 10 were tasked with inking the underside of the chin and throat. This surface is extremely challenging to tattoo and required the artists to create a design that looks appropriate in multiple positions.
Victorian Throat Tattoos: Season 6
In season 6, the remaining seven artists were assigned Victorian-inspired throat tattoos. This area of the body is extremely painful for a client to endure and the location can be challenging because the skin is both thin and elastic. During this episode, front runner Chris Blinston experienced big challenges during his throat tattoo and wound up in the bottom three.
Smoking Scars: Season 8
Season 8 had the artists meet clients who had scars related to smoking and were tasked with creating a creative coverup. No scar, however, was more daunting than the one doled out to Kelly Doty—who had to work around tracheostomy while crafting a colorful galaxy design.
Palm Tattoos: Season 8
Later on, in season 8, the remaining artists were given the challenge of palm tattoos and had to work with clients who had no clue about the restrictions at hand. None of the competing artists had their palms tattooed and the spot proved to be excruciating for their clients. Additionally, while many tried to convince their clients that neither color nor shading would hold, a few of the artists couldn't talk them out of it and were torn apart by the judges.
Two Day Head Tattoos: Season 8
What was it about season 8 that made the producers decide to torture the competitors? Yet again, this season presented one of the most difficult challenges in the show's history. In the episode aptly titled "Head Games," the artists were tasked with doing a 12-hour head tattoo split up into two 6 hour sessions. The clients had to sit for two days straight of tattooing on their skulls and the artists had to work off another's design to create a cohesive piece.
24-Hour Head Tattoos: Season 10
For the season 10 finale, the coaches were given the assignment of creating a 24-hour head tattoo for their master canvas challenge. All three of the coaches excelled in the assignment and while we weren't shown the progress, we can imagine that it was no easy feat for their clients to endure.
Arm Pit Tattoos: Season 9
Season 9 had the competitors paired up as shops and required the artists to work together to create cohesive designs. Perhaps the most difficult challenge of this season was when the artists were tasked with creating armpit tattoos. This was not only problematic because of the location, but the artists were told that they needed to make each armpit look like they were tattooed by one artist.
4-on-1 Tattoos: Season 6
Perhaps the most physically demanding challenge throughout all seasons of the popular tattoo competition, season 6's 4-on-1 tattoo proved to be too much for one client to handle. While being tattooed by four artists at the same time, the client had a panic attack and had to withdraw from the piece. However, given the challenge, we can't blame her!
Pin-Up Tattoos: Every Damn Season
No matter the season, the pin-up challenge never fails to trip up top tattooers. Being asked to create an anatomically accurate and attractive pin-up in six hours is a huge challenge, as the artists are required to pack detail on a micro scale. Hands, feet, and faces always trip up tattooers on every season, with this challenge spawning some of the ugliest tattoos in the history of Ink Master.
What do you think about these difficult challenges? Was there a challenge that you think should have been added to our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.