The (Un)Lucky 7: Ink Master’s Toughest Challenges

July 12, 2013

Ink Master is starting its third season on Tuesday, July 16 at 10/9c6. As with every season, the stakes are high and the judges are tough on the competition. That's why the show's called "Ink Master" and not "Ink Best Out of A Random Group of People."

In each episode, the artists are put to the test in a series of challenges that determine whether they continue on or go home. Some challenges are simply a way for the judges to examine their specific skills, but there are others that go above and beyond stuff like line work and coloring to test an artist's ingenuity and mental toughness.
Over the course of three seasons we've seen artists and subjects broken down by these challenges. To prepare you for the toughest season yet, we've put together a list of the toughest contestant challenges.

PSORIASIS – Season 1, Episode 2

It's enough pressure tattooing people who have never had work done before, but it's even tougher when you don't have a canvas. That's what happened to Shane, whose subject's psoriasis was so bad that he had to be dismissed over fears of infection and inflammation. Luckily, guest judge Ton Allen from the Spike show "Auction Hunters" stepped up to the plate and agreed to let Shane tattoo him. It was good news for Shane because it meant he was still in the competition, but also bad news because the subject was one of the judges. Talk about pressure.

PRAYING HANDS – Season 1, Episode 7

Hands are one of the most infamously difficult parts of the human body for an artist to draw. Maintaining proper proportion and detail requires a skill that is, quite frankly, beyond even the most experienced tattoo artists. So, naturally, the artists had to draw the common image of the praying hands and then ink them on human canvasses. Most fell way short, and even the winner looked a bit clumsy.

COVER-UPS MUST GO DOWN - Season 2, Episode 2

The folks on "Tattoo Nightmares" make it look easy, but in reality it takes a lot of artistry and skill to do an even halfway decent cover-up. The artists in season two had their feet put to the fire right off the bat, and in the second episode they were challenged to fix the work of lesser artists. Some shone in the challenge but most, even with their extensive experience, fell short. It just goes to show how hard cover-ups can be, as well as the importance of choosing your artists and design wisely so that you don't need to get one done in the first place.

AMERICAN TRADITIONAL - Season 2, Episode 3

In this challenge, the artists were told to draw a patriotic tattoo on a vet that contains both an eagle and a flag. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. In fact, it was that assumption of ease that may have spelled doom for many of the contestants, all of whom were called out for phoning it in. The judges were so unimpressed with the work that for the first and only time in the show's history, they refused to select a winner for the challenge.

HORROR-ble - Season 2, Episode 5

One of the most difficult aspects of tattoo artistry is texture, which the contestants found out the hard way when judges tasked them with creating horror-themed tats with an emphasis on texture. While only one was eliminated, many fell short in this challenge. 

TURNING JAPANESE - Season 2, Episode 9

Japanese themed tattoos present the challenge of an artist having to basically replicate the expertise of a calligrapher, which in itself is a master craft. It's a skill that can be at best imitated, but not duplicated. Many fell short in this challenge, though Jamie was ultimately eliminated because in addition to not impressing the judges in this particular challenge, they also didn't like the fact that he didn't have any tattoos himself despite being in the business for seventeen years.

TATHLETE - Season 2, Episode 10

Artists met with athletes from all types of sports to give them ink in a challenge that tested them on their all-around skill. In addition, Sebastian had the unfortunate task of having to tattoo MMA great and Bellator Light Heavyweight competitor Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal, a man who as cool as he may seem we definitely wouldn't want to disappoint.

As the series continues, the challenges have only become more difficult. Season 3 will up the ante even further, with its very first challenge putting the artists' skills and nerves to the test. Check out the sneak preview below and tune in for the premiere on Tuesday, July 16 at 10/9c.