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A show that’ll get under your skin

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to Ink Masters cast

Back row (l to r) Al Fliction, Shane O'Neill, Tommy Helm, Brian "B-Tat" Robinson, Josh Woods, Bili Vegas, Jeremy Miller & James Vaughn. Front row (l to r) Heather Sinn, Judge Chris Nunez, Series Host Dave Navarro, Judge Oliver Peck and Lea Vendeta.

Like many people, I love tattoos. But unlike serious tattoo fans, I have commitment issues when it comes to permanent body inkings.

If I did decide to get a tattoo or two, I’d probably get something like my nickname, but I’ve had so many I’ve lost count. Imagine “Iceberg” written on one arm and on the other “Hoodie” (short for Hoodieman. Yes, I had an interesting childhood). Then “Mun Munns”, as some people call me now.

It would be a sore sight to see my torso and other inked parts of my body. So, instead of having scars mixed with ink, I prefer natural skin. That’s not to say I don’t drool over the rock stars’ ink sleeves, I do, but it is the permanent nature of tattoos that I can’t stand. That said, I am not about to try henna tattoos either.

This brings us to the brave contestants of Ink Master, a competition where tattoo artists try to outdo each other creatively on willing human canvases. Since it is a show about competing creatives, it makes sense that the format is unlike any other show, making it interesting even for those who are not into tattoos.

We start with 13 contestants who all have incredible art skills and they vie for the $100 000 prize.

To sift through the chaff the first few episodes see the hopefuls go through a flash challenge – an exercise that has nothing to do with tattooing at all, yet some skills used in tattooing are required. One person is dropped from the show as a result of this exercise and the remaining dozen face the next challenge.

The winner gets to choose who they want to tattoo. That is important because as any artist knows, the texture of the surface they will work on will determine how the final product will look. If the artist has a hand in selecting and in this case, also gets to know, their canvas, then they have an edge on others. And to make the victory even sweeter, the winner assigns the other contestants their human canvases as he/she wishes.

The next day tattooing begins and the artists have a limited amount of time to complete their challenges. A panel of judges decides who to let go.

There are many things I am willing to do, but the last thing is to offer my body as a canvas in a competition. Given that these tattoo artists have a limited time, what’s stopping them from rushing the job? It is a very bold game and you have to really want a tattoo (possibly free) to even consider this.

As seen in the first season, sometimes things don’t go as planned. To the artist it’s a piece of paper you scrunch up and try to toss in the dustbin to start afresh on another, but to the contestant it was pain and bleeding for nothing, with permanent ink to show for it.

Good luck to everyone, I will stay safe on my end of the TV.

• Ink Master airs on Wednesday at 9pm on MTV base (DStv channel 322).


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