‘Ink Master: Rivals’ episode 4 review: Is Cris Element really giving up?

Ink MasterWe’ve seen this before on “Ink Master”: The artist that clearly doesn’t want to be there. We watched Tatu Baby say she was quitting (and then get talked into staying), Ashley Bennett who quit (and really meant it) and now we have Cris Element who has said more then once that he’s “given up” on a tattoo he’s been working on leaving a canvas with a rough tattoo. What happens when you say that you’ve “given up” to the judges too many times?

Flash challenge: This challenge couldn’t have been tailor made any better for Joshua Hibbard. Four human canvases are up for grabs to ink a “tree” tattoo and all of the artists have to use their skills as salespeople to land one of those clients. This is such an important part of the tattooing business (any business really) and this aspect of the craft has never been focused on by the show, so bravo to “Ink Master” for bringing this to the forefront.

After the canvases all had a chance to talk with the artists, the four that were chosen were Eric, Cleen, Emily and Joshua, but what was interesting about this was that Cleen and Eric would’ve been a first choice by more then one canvas… and with good reason. Their tree tattoos were outstanding and it was nice to see some of the artists start to stand out from the crowd. Eric took the win, which must’ve made him feel like a million bucks since last week the human canvas jury chose him as worst tattoo of the day.

Elimination tattoo: With Eric handing out the skulls, Jason decides to use this opportunity to get inside Eric’s head. He tells Eric that Joshua can’t draw and couple that with the fact that he’s been winning every week Eric is sold on the idea of targeting Joshua.

This week the name of the game is “composition” and the artists will be tested by tattooing Geisha’s. Japanese style tattooing is something that Jason Clay Dunn knows very well, but we worry a bit for Joshua since he just did a cherry blossom tree in the flash challenge and the judges weren’t crazy about it. Eric gave Joshua a rib piece, but in true Joshua fashion he was able to talk the canvas into moving the tattoo somewhere else.

So can Joshua draw? He opted to do a more photo-realism Geisha since he said he doesn’t know the rules to Japanese style tattooing as well as others. It was a safe move, but at the same time this put even more focus on Joshua from some of the other artists concerning his drawing abilities, because he used a reference photo (as many artists do).

Judging: It was a rough critique for many of the artists tonight, but there were a few stand outs like Jason and Cleen. After being pummeled by the judges, Cris admitted (again) that he gave up on the tattoo, but hammered through it anyways. We get the feeling that Cris really doesn’t want to be in this competition as this is only week four and he’s said twice now that he’s given up on a piece while still working on it. Angel wants his rival to give him a fight and it’s the first time this season that we’ve seen a rivalry that is pushing an artist to do better and not just making them angry.

In the end Jason got the win and it was well deserved! Mark, Tim, and Cris were called into the elimination room with Cris being called out by the human canvas jury. Tonight  we lost Tim (and we suspect that Emily is somewhere doing the happy dance) and Cris told the judges that he is going to step up and put his best work forward.  Episode grade: B

If you are looking for more news on “Ink Master: Rivals” then head over to the link here where you can check out previews, reviews, interviews with eliminated artists (our latest ones are with Caroline Evans, Elton “LT” Duarte and Jayvo Scott) and podcasts all about the show.

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Photo: Spike TV

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