There are two kinds of challenges on Ink Master. The elimination tattoo is the challenge that will see one artist go home, but there’s also a flash challenge that typically happens earlier in the show, and those can get really weird.
Even though everyone on the show is a tattoo artist, the flash challenge can be anything from spray painting walls to sculpting to burning a canvas with live electrical wires. Artistic, sure, but not tattooing. And past contestants have pointed out that the show is unfair in how it challenges you to do something you have no idea how to do. After all, if the point is to choose the best tattoo artist, does it matter if they know how to make a giant Lite-Brite mural?
Frank McManus was an artist who appeared in Season 3 of Ink Master. While he enjoyed his time on the show, he notes that the competition really doesn’t tell you anything about an artist’s skill. For instance, one of his challenges required him to tattoo an inmate in a prison cell. Not the craziest thing ever, but he also had only one needle and extremely poor lighting. With limited resources and equipment, he felt there was no way he could produce work to the best of his ability, nor could anyone else. As he told PennLive, the challenges “don’t have much to do with what tattooing really is.”
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