Introduction to Best Ink, a Tattooing Competition

Best Ink was an American reality TV series that focused on the world of tattooing, with artists competing for a grand prize and the title of the best in the business. Aired on the Oxygen network, the show had a run of three seasons starting from 2012 until 2014. While Kimberly Caldwell took on the hosting responsibilities in the first season, Pete Wentz succeeded her for the remaining two.

Show Format and Competition Stages

The essence of the show lies in its competitive format, which is designed to showcase and scrutinize the skills of tattoo artists from around the United States. The overall winner of the competition walks away with a $100,000 cash prize and a featured article in a prestigious tattoo-related magazine.

Flash Challenge

Before diving into tattooing, contestants are often presented with a 'Flash Challenge.' These are non-tattooing tasks aimed at testing the contestants' broader artistic capabilities, often through various media, subjects, and unconventional "canvases." Importantly, the skills demonstrated in the Flash Challenge often become a crucial judging parameter in the next stage, known as the Elimination Tattoo.

Elimination Tattoo

The Elimination Tattoo stage follows the Flash Challenge and begins with the winner of the latter receiving a privilege. The advantage might be the first pick of a "skin" (client) or extra time for tattooing. This aspect is predetermined by the show's production team. Artists then consult with their allocated "skin," followed by a set period to create the design before the tattooing commences. All contestants perform their Elimination Tattoos simultaneously within a restricted time frame. Subsequently, the judges evaluate each work, culminating in the elimination of the contestant with the least impressive tattoo.

Judges and Hosts

The critiques and judgments come from a consistent panel of judges featuring Joe Capobianco, Sabina Kelley, and Hannah Aitchison. Additionally, guest judges make an appearance every week, adding more perspectives to the evaluations.

  • Pete Wentz: Host for seasons 2 and 3

  • Kimberly Caldwell: Host for season 1

  • Joe Capobianco: Permanent Judge

  • Sabina Kelley: Permanent Judge

  • Hannah Aitchison: Permanent Judge

Notable Contestants Across Seasons

The show witnessed a variety of talented artists competing through its three seasons, such as Alexis Kovacs, Roman Abrego, and Teresa Sharpe, among others. While some gained recognition for their flash challenge performances, others left an indelible impression through their Elimination Tattoos.

Season 1 Contestants

  • Alexis Kovacs
  • Roman Abrego
  • Jon Mesa

Season 2 Contestants

  • Alli Baker
  • DJ Tambe
  • Teresa Sharpe

Season 3 Contestants

  • Alayna Magnan
  • Danny Lepore
  • Romeo Lacoste

Conclusion

Best Ink served as a platform for aspiring and seasoned tattoo artists to showcase their skills under high-stress situations, offering viewers an in-depth look into the world of tattoo artistry. While the show is no longer in production, its impact on the careers of several artists and the tattoo industry at large remains indelible. With a format that balanced artistic challenges and real-world applications of tattooing, Best Ink was a compelling chapter in the history of reality television that focused on the artistry behind the ink.

We Make Ink Do More

Paul Park, The Xtreme Team

For the most recent tattoo art made with Xtreme Inks by tattoo artists who are pushing the boundaries of self-expression, check out our Instagram.

For more information on our collector’s tattoo ink sets, please take a look at our piece on Xtreme Inks: Artist Collections.

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