This show has featured some of the greatest artists and and art in the industry, but has also left a lot to be desired from certain individuals. Today, I rank the top 10 worst Ink Master contestants so far.
To be clear, the contestants featured don’t have to be terrible tattoo artists, but the way they performed and portrayed themselves on the show have given them a bad rep to the shows fans.
10. Elton “LT” Duarte, Season 5
His inexperience really showed early and often.
Featuring on season five of the show where tattoo artist rivals as they compete against each other. LT came in with his rival Ty'Esha Reels who 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 rival. LT and Ty’Esha were among the bottom three teams. The bottom six artists were forced into a face off tattoo with each artists picking their rivals style of tattoo. Ty’Esha chose color realism, which was LT’s weakness, while LT questionable chose cursive lettering. LT won the head to head, but his color realism piece was far from spectacular.
The following week, the contestants tattooed pinup girls for the elimination tattoo. LT tattooed a army style pinup and it was clearly the worst in the room. What made it worse for him was when he let his mouth try to fight his battles and the other artists in the house just laughing in his face. The whole situation came to ahead with him getting into shouting match with Ryan Eternal. His pinup was voted the worst tattoo of the day by the human canvas jury and 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
His attitude and poor artwork was on display in his short time on the show.
Lees also featured on season five along with his rival Cleen Rock One. Cleen hired Tim at his shop, but threatened to kick him out over poor work, but
Tim thought Cleen had an ego problem So the two came on the show to settle the score.
Pretty much from the start, his attitude towards his human canvases was really sour and his artwork was instantly outshined by his rival. Whether its his pig face hula girl pinup or the bad geisha tattoo that sent him home, Lees showed he was no where near the artist Cleen is as shown by the ladder becoming a fan favorite across four seasons of the show.
8. Roland Pacheco, Season 4
He was a one trick pony whose flaws put him in the bottom consistently.
Tattooing for eight years prior to his appearance on season four, Roland Pacheco specialized specifically in Polynesian tattoos. Things got off to a rough start for Pacheco in the first challenge 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. Pacheco was the last contestant to earn his shop in the show and things never got easier for him.
Over the next four weeks, Roland consistently was in the bottom as he struggled with color and realism designs. He was ultimately eliminated on portrait day after his flaws became too much to ignore by the judges. It just goes to show how you can’t just be good at one style and expect to last in this competition.
7. Cee Jay Jones, Season 2
She had a rough start in the first flash challenge and made a crucial mistake in the first elimination tattoo.
Featured on 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 rough for her as an ink bottle burst in her face and she had to go through the rest of the challenge with black ink in her face and 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 due to her choice of outlining her piece with brown ink and shaky lines. 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“ to “1st Cortnthians 13: 1-7.” The mistake shocked the judges and other contestants and the error was to hard to ignore so she was eliminated after the first show.
6. Mark Matthews, Season 2
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 while also being an MMA fighter. From the beginning, Mark seemed to have the same problems in all of his tattoos with packing in to much black to the point the image becomes unreadable. He rode out the competition in the middle of the pack until week 4 when his flaws started landing him in the bottom. They’re could have been many times between weeks five through eight where he could have been justifiably been 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 for n recent seasons, there’s no way he would have made it as far as he did if he competed today.
5. Maddie la Belle, Season 3
She was in the bottom each week and her elimination was a first for the show.
Featured on season three of the show, 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 coverup and a poorly applied anatomical heart but still survived the elimination process.
In the third episode, the judges threw the contestants a curveball with the first ever elimination flash challenge where the artists had to tattoo a garter belt. The judges decided that Maddie had the worst garter tattoo and 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
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 her crooked angel wings tattoo on her back. Pretty much from the get go, the canvas was crying in pain and ultimately ended up tapping out with unfinished work. Jeremy was criticized by fellow artists for not putting her in a more comfortable position but was given another chance by the judges.
The following week the artists were tasked with tribal tattoos and Jeremy once again struggled. Jeremy continued to complain to other artists that he hasn’t really tattooed anything other than new school designs, which put him off with more veteran tattooers. The judges saw enough from his lack of skill set and was eliminated that week.
3. St. Marq, Seasons 6 & 7
The “Tattoo God“ was anything but in his two appearances on the show.
First coming to the show in season six with his apprentices 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. It wasn’t long after that the he began to sour on fans and his fellow artist with his ego and going as far as to call himself a “tattoo god.” It also became evident that detail, color, and line work were his short comings as he strayed away from using liners and just tattooing with shaders. He was eventually eliminated after a face off tattoo in week seven.
St. Marq returned to the show the following season where eight new artists also battled eight veteran artists. In he first episode as the veteran, he got to call out the style and subject matter which he chose the seven deadly sins using only shaders. The new artists got the last laugh as he ended up in the bottom on his own subject matter and 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 ego maniac and for writing checks with his mouth his skills couldn’t cash.
2. Danger Dave, Season 9
His overbearing attitude and control brought down the work of his shop.
Season nine of the show saw two artists from shops across the country come in to compete for the first title of Master Shop. Danger Dave came in with his coworker Bang and their shop Tri-Cities Tattoo struggled the entire way through. Throughout each flash challenge and elimination tattoo, Dave was constantly trying to change designs of the art or tattoos much to the distain of his teammate Bang. 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 his “contributions“ always seemed to hurt his shop and kept them from being a true competitor In the show.
1. Mystical Mike, Season 3
If unwarranted confidence had a face, it would be Mystical Mike.
Featured on season three of the show, Mystical Mike was overmatched 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 he only brought one tattoo machine to the competition. Despite this announcement, he managed to make it through the first week. 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 anatomical deltoid muscle fitted in a skin rip of a G clef music note. His poor designs and his alienation of everyone else in the house led to him being eliminated in episode two.
Mystical Mike has returned to multiple spin-offs of the show and he continued to display complete lack of competence or awareness when approaching tattooing. His poor social skills and overall arrogance has label him as a joke and in my view, the worst tattoo artist in the history of Ink Master.