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Who Was the Worst Ink Master Contestant Ever?
Ink Master has featured some of the greatest artists and art in the tattoo industry, but it has also exposed many who have major room for improvement. Today, I count down the top 10 worst contestants on the show so far.
To be clear, the contestants featured aren't necessarily terrible tattoo artists, but the way they performed and portrayed themselves on the show has given them a bad rep among the fans.
10. Elton “LT” Duarte, Season 5
Why He's on My List: LT's inexperience really showed early and often.
LT was featured in season five of the show, which involved tattoo artist rivals competing against each other. LT came in with his rival Ty'Esha Reels, whom he beat in a showdown at a tattoo expo. Ty’Esha felt the results were rigged as LT’s shop was the sponsor of the expo.
When it came to the first elimination tattoo, the artists had to tag-team tattoo with their rivals. LT and Ty’Esha were among the bottom three teams. The bottom six artists were forced into a face-off tattoo, with each artist picking the style their rival had to use. Ty’Esha chose color realism, which was LT’s weakness, while LT chose cursive lettering (a questionable choice). LT won the head-to-head, but his color realism piece was far from spectacular.
In the following week, the contestants tattooed pinup girls for the elimination tattoo. LT tattooed an army-style pinup, and it was clearly the worst in the room (watch the video above to see it). What made it worse for him was when he let his mouth fight his battles, and the other artists in the house just laughed in his face. The whole situation came to a head with LT getting into a shouting match with Ryan Eternal.
LT's pinup was voted the worst tattoo of the day by the human canvas jury, and he was eliminated from the show soon after. Ty’Esha got the last laugh as she lasted until week seven in the competition.
9. Tim Lees, Season 5
Why He's on My List: His attitude and poor artwork were on display during his short time on the show.
Lees was also featured in season five along with his rival, Cleen Rock One. Cleen hired Tim at his shop but threatened to kick him out due to his poor work; however, Tim thought Cleen had an ego problem. So, the two came on the show to settle the score.
Pretty much from the start, Tim's attitude towards his human canvases was really sour, and his artwork was instantly outshined by his rival. From his pig-faced hula girl pinup to the bad geisha tattoo that sent him home, Lees showed that he was nowhere near the artist Cleen was. Meanwhile, Cleen went on to become a fan favorite across four seasons of the show.
8. Roland Pacheco, Season 4
Why He's on My List: He was a one-trick pony whose flaws put him at the bottom consistently.
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Tattooing for eight years prior to his appearance in season four, Roland Pacheco specialized in Polynesian tattoos. Things got off to a rough start for Pacheco in the first episode as contestants had to compete in a convention-style tattoo challenge to earn their shop. Roland got on the judges' bad side almost instantly with an ugly "acid cat" design. He was the last contestant to earn his shop on the show, and things never got easier for him.
Over the next four weeks, Roland was consistently at the bottom as he struggled with color and realism in his designs. He was ultimately eliminated on portrait day after his flaws became too much for the judges to ignore. It just goes to show that you can’t be good at a single style and expect to last in this competition.
7. Cee Jay Jones, Season 2
Why She's on My List: She had a rough start in the first flash challenge and made a crucial mistake in the first elimination tattoo.
Featured in season two, Cee Jay Jones had been tattooing for 15 years. In the first flash challenge, the contestants had to tattoo a snake and dagger on silicon mannequin parts. The challenge started out rough for Cee Jay as an ink bottle burst in her face, and she had to go through the rest of the challenge with black ink on her face and in her hair.
For the elimination tattoo, the artists had to give tattoo virgins their first tattoos. Cee Jay tattooed an angel with a bible verse. Her critique was bad mainly because her lines were shaky and she chose to outline her piece with brown ink. But it wasn’t until after the artists left the critique that host Dave Navarro realized that she misspelled the Bible verse “1st Corinthians 13: 1-7” as “1st Cornthians 13: 1-7.”
The mistake shocked the judges and the other contestants (watch the video above to see how it all went down). The error was too hard to ignore, so she was eliminated after the first show.
6. Mark Matthews, Season 2
Why He's on My List: He lasted way longer than he should have and continued to make the same mistakes.
Competing on season two of Ink Master, Mark Matthews had been tattooing for 14 years while also being an MMA fighter. From the beginning, Mark seemed to have the same problems with all of his tattoos: He packed in too much black, to the point that the image became unreadable. He rode out the competition in the middle of the pack until week four, when his flaws started landing him at the bottom.
There were many times between weeks five and eight where he could have been justifiably eliminated. Personally, I felt his completely black biker pinup should have been the nail in his coffin, but he ended up lasting two more weeks before another overly dark image finally sent him home. With the level of competition and talent on display in recent seasons, there’s no way Mark would have made it as far as he did if he competed today.
5. Maddie la Belle, Season 3
Why She's on My List: She was it the bottom each week, and her elimination was a first for the show.
Featured in season three, Maddie la Belle had been tattooing for five years. She never seemed to find her footing on the show as she landed in the bottom three in each of the first two episodes. She did this with a poorly designed cover-up and a poorly applied anatomical heart design, but she still survived the elimination process.
In the third episode, the judges threw the contestants a curveball with the first-ever elimination flash challenge. The artists had to tattoo a garter belt. The judges decided that Maddie had the worst garter tattoo, and she was sent home. She remains the first and only contestant in the show’s history to be eliminated after a flash challenge.
4. Jeremy Miller, Season 1
Why He's on My List: He completely dropped the ball on his first elimination tattoo and whined pretty much the entire time.
Competing on the first season of the show, Jeremy Miller came in specializing in new school tattoos. In the first elimination tattoo, the artists had to cover up unwanted tattoos. Jeremy’s human canvas wanted to fix the crooked angel wings tattooed on her back. Pretty much from the get-go, the canvas was crying in pain and ultimately ended up tapping out with unfinished work (watch the video above to see how it happened). Jeremy was criticized by fellow artists for not putting her in a more comfortable position, but he was given another chance by the judges.
The following week, the artists were tasked with tribal tattoos, and Jeremy once again struggled. He continued to complain to the other artists that he hadn’t really tattooed anything other than new school designs, which irked the veteran artists. The judges had seen enough, and he was eliminated that week due to his lacking skillset.
3. St. Marq, Seasons 6 and 7
Why He's on My List: The “Tattoo God“ was anything but in his two appearances on the show.
First appearing on the show in season six with his apprentice Ryan Hadley, Mark “St. Marq“ Agee had been tattooing for 25 years. Early in the competition, he was looking like one of the front-runners as he won his first three head-to-head elimination tattoos. Not long after, he began to sour on fans and his fellow artists due to his ego; he went as far as to call himself the “Tattoo God.”
It also became evident that detail, color, and line work were his shortcomings as he strayed away from using liners and just tattooed with shaders. He was eventually eliminated after a face-off tattoo in week seven.
His Return in Season 7
St. Marq returned to the show the following season, which featured eight new artists battling eight veteran artists. In his first episode as the veteran, he got to call out the style and subject matter, and he chose the seven deadly sins using only shaders. The new artists got the last laugh as St. Marq ended up in the bottom, and he remained a target the rest of the way.
He was eliminated in week five after a terrible new school design and was the first veteran artist to be sent home. He is remembered by fans of the show for being a colossal egomaniac and for writing checks with his mouth that his skills couldn’t cash.
2. Danger Dave, Season 9
Why He's on My List: His overbearing attitude and need for control brought down the work of his shop.
Season nine of the show saw two artists from shops across the country compete for the first title of Master Shop. Danger Dave came in with his co-worker, Bang. Their shop, Tri-Cities Tattoo, struggled the entire time.
Throughout each flash challenge and elimination tattoo, Dave was constantly trying to change the designs or tattoos, much to the disdain of his teammate. The team looked to perform well when Bang took charge, but Dave’s art never seemed to live up to the challenge. After three straight bottom three elimination tattoos, Tri-Cities was eliminated in week four.
The reason I include Dave here and not Bang is that Dave's “contributions“ always seemed to hurt his shop. He kept them from being true competitors on the show.
1. Mystical Mike, Season 3
Why He's on My List: If unwarranted confidence had a face, it would be Mystical Mike.
Featured on season three of the show, Mystical Mike was outmatched from the get-go. In the first flash challenge, the artists were tasked with tattooing single needle tattoos on former prison inmates. Mike was criticized for his poor design of a pocket watch. In the ensuing elimination tattoo, he had to do a cover-up tattoo on the same canvas. He achieved the cover-up, but his design of a monochromatic blue lion lacked detail and strong lines.
Mike proceeded to shock the judges by announcing that he only brought one tattoo machine to the competition. Despite this announcement, he managed to make it through the first week.
In the second week, he had already established himself as the weakest artist in the house, and the other competitors grew annoyed with him. In the elimination tattoo, he landed in the bottom once again with a poor tattoo of an anatomical deltoid muscle fitted in a skin rip of a G clef music note. His poor designs and the way he alienated everyone else in the house led to him being eliminated in episode two.
He's My Pick as the All-Time Worst
Mystical Mike returned in multiple spin-offs, and he continued to display a complete lack of competence or awareness. Fans consider him to be a joke due to his poor social skills and overall arrogance. In my view, he's the worst tattoo artist in the history of Ink Master.