My Current Obsession: Ink Master/Tattoo Nightmares


I was planning to watch and blog about “The Wolverine” this week, but ultimately I decided I just have no drive/strong interest to see that film (even though I LOVE Hugh Jackman). Instead, I’ve decided to tackle another obsession that originated between myself and my boyfriend: Tattoo shows. Specifically, two shows on Spike TV, “Ink Master” and “Tattoo Nightmares.”

“Ink Master”, hosted by Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, is a reality competition show where tattoo artists from all over the US compete to win $10,000, a magazine cover spot and the title Ink Master. It has all the usual drama between contestants that I normally hate in reality shows and is my least favorite aspect about the show. My reasons for enjoying the show stem from the tattoos themselves and the weekly challenges presented, as well as the couple of artists I grew to like. Each week there’s a different theme of tattoos that the artists have to attempt, as well as “human canvases” (still hate that term) aka clients they have to tattoo. They’re judged by Dave and other well-known tattoo artists, and one person is eliminated if their work isn’t up to par.

It’s a fun little competition show that teaches you a bit about how tattoos are made and structured, plus it shows off some great and not-so-great artwork. While the judges have VERY critical eyes and can be pretty harsh, it’s fun hearing their professional critiques. My boyfriend and I started watching it during season 2, and we’ve kept up with it as it continues its third season. But, as you can see from my blog title, it’s not the only tattoo show that’s caught my eye.

“Tattoo Nightmares” is a show where three artists, one of whom was the runner-up in season 1 of “Ink Master,” do cover-up tattoos for three people per episode. Cover-up tattoos are exactly as they sound, acting as a piece of art to cover an existing tattoo. In this case, clients who have been dealt a nasty or ugly tattoo get the chance to have it covered by something suiting their tastes. The show combines great artwork and crazy stories from the clients recounting how they got their awful tattoo in the first place. Some have tattoos thanks to getting drunk, as you’d expect, while others have tattoos that invoke painful or traumatic memories.

Of the two shows, I enjoy this one a bit more. The three artists are very likable and great at what they do. Depending on the clients, the stories can range from laugh-out-loud ridiculous to surprisingly tear-jerking. You just get such a good feeling from seeing their awful tattoos get turned into something they can show off with pride. Plus, unlike “Ink Master” which runs for an hour with commercials, “Tattoo Nightmares” is only 30 minutes with them and always leaves me wanting more. Thankfully, Spike TV is good about having back-to-back episodes so I get my fill.

I never used to be interested in tattoos, and while both shows still haven’t convinced me to get one, I appreciate the profession a lot more now. I never realized how much creativity goes into it and how beautiful tattoos can really be. Of course, a lot of that depends on the artist, and the fact that these shows highlight artists who take their jobs seriously has made me respect the tattoo industry overall. Even if you’re only interested in tattoos themselves, give these shows a watch.


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