"Best Ink" Bingo (And/Or Drinking Game)
The times they are a'changin, my friends.
Over the past few years, when I'd interview tattooers, many--if not most--would decry "the scourge" of reality TV in the tattoo world. I've done it myself. But recently, the cries have become more muffled, even muted.
It could be a shoulder shrugging "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality. It could be that a lot of our friends are on the shows. It could even be that the shows have gotten a bit better. For me, it's all three.
The shows are here to stay. My non-tattooed neighbors watch them. My dentist watches them. My mother watches them. Polite dinner party conversation has moved from Nathan Lane on Broadway to Ami James on NY Ink.
And so, considering the vast audience these shows have, perhaps it's time to help shape them and offer a better representation of tattooing, through constructive critique and support of strong artists featured.
Which brings me to the second season of Best Ink, premiering tonight, April 3rd, at 10PM ET/PT on the Oxygen network.
For those who may have missed the first season, Best Ink is one of the tattoo competition shows in which twelve tattooers compete in different art and tattoo challenges to be the last one standing, winning $100K and a feature in Tattoo magazine.
I got a preview of the show and jotted down my Top 5 Pros and Cons based on the first episode. Here they are:
PRO: Renowned tattoo artist Hannah Aitchison joins the awesome Joe Capobianco and Sabina Kelly as a judge. When I talked to Joe about the show, he was particularly excited about this too, saying:
My personal favorite new addition to this season is judge Hannah Aitchison. I'm a huge fan of Hannah's work and was insanely jazzed that she agreed to take on the role of the third permanent judge this season. I think that she added an educated, almost 'teacher' approach to the judging that Sabina and I sometimes lacked in the past season.CON: Hannah's got a lot of teaching to do, as many of the tattooers are young, with only a few years in the industry under their spiked belts.
PRO: Pete Wentz replaced Kimberly Caldwell as the show's host. Pete actually has more than one tattoo! He appears cool and comfortable on the set, and more of an insider than an American Idol contestant hanging with the cool kids.
CON: I have no cons about Pete at this moment. He's just too cute.
PRO: There's a lot more discussion on the design process and what the judges are looking for to create a solid tattoo. It's more educative to the general public, and hopefully, will lead to more educated clients.
CON: There's a lot more discussion on the design process, and what the judges are looking for to create a solid tattoo. And this will likely lead to more people thinking they know how to tattoo by just watching a TV show.
PRO: Joe will make contestants cry.
CON: Contestants do stupid things that makes Joe make them cry.
PRO: The tattoo clients--or "Skins"--bring the drama. It's a "pro" if you like that kind of thing. Joe thinks it adds to this season, explaining:
There will be a bit more emphasis on the "Skins" (tattoo clients) story this season, which is really cool. Some of these folks have really heartfelt and interesting stories. The show also does quite a bit of background on the artists themselves. My hat goes off to these guys for stepping up to the challenge of the skins' sometimes crazy requests, as well as the Flash and Ink Challenges.CON: Not every tattoo has to have a story. The public should also be aware that many of us get tattooed simply because we just like the way it looks. Alas, that doesn't make for a compelling show for the masses.
So, how can we make it more compelling for us?
Best Ink Bingo [And/Or Drinking Game].
I made this simple, sample card below, which you can remix if playing against others. Every time the scene noted in the card plays out on the show, mark an X and take a drink. When you get five across, vertical, or diagonal, finish the bottle. Caveat: based on the choices, you'll be hurting in the morning. [For non-drinkers, take a sip from a frosty protein shake.] You can download a slightly bigger bingo card here on Flickr.
Photos above by Ben Cohen for Oxygen Media.