First things first, congratulations to Ryan Ashley Malarkey on becoming the 8th Ink Master. There is no denying her ability and she was on fire all season long. Her live tattoo was beyond reproach (my favorite of the three and it earned my Twitter vote) and her 24 hour chest piece, although not her specialty, was absolutely amazing. Hell, I couldn’t argue with any of the tattoos in the final really. Whatever the case I believe she is a deserving winner and I’d absolutely kill for an opportunity to get a tattoo from her. Seriously.
This entire season we saw some strong tattoos, some not-so-strong tattoos and some downright bad tattoos. We also saw a contestant pull a total dick move and leave the competition, thus shortening the season by one episode (if he was going to leave why the hell didn’t he volunteer himself for elimination at the conclusion of an episode instead of walking out in the middle of one?).
Alas, one thing I have to admit really bothered me this season was this “unholy alliance” with the female contestants that crossed even team lines (judges Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez had teams this year so in a way it was a competition between them too) to gang up on and target the guys (even their own teammates). This entire time all I could think was “why?” I’m sorry, but in this competition you have no friends. You have no alliance. At the end of the day there is only one champion. You have to play the game and the girls pulling the vagina card really bothered me. They were going to have to go against each other eventually so what was the point? At the end of the day it should come down to who does the best tattoos. I think either of the two women who made it to the finals could have done so on their artwork alone (yes, they were that good) so it was a bit of a WTF moment for me.
All that said, despite my own personal fondness of Ryan’s work I can’t help but wonder if maybe there was a little political correctness in the final decision for the above reason. With all three judges being male if they’d have given the last male contestant the win (ultimately it was a 2-1 vote with Oliver going Ryan, Chris going Gian and leaving head judge Dave as the swing vote) I can see where some folks would have cried sexism. Again, Ryan was a totally deserving winner in my opinion and she definitely had the best live tattoo but I can’t help but wonder if that was a factor, however insignificant.
All that said, it was a great season and I wasn’t left scratching my head at who was ultimately chosen the winner. I don’t think I’d have been upset if either of the other finalists won it but I did really like Ryan’s tattoos tonight and all season. We are both the same age (born 1987) so we’ve still got lots of life left so maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity to get a tattoo from her. Though I’m normally a full-color kind of guy I do love B&G too and have come to appreciate it as a style as much as full-color styles.