Ink Master: Rivals’ exclusive: Julia Carlson on fair game play, elimination, and harsh words

Ink MasterJulia Carlson left a big impression on the “Ink Master: Rivals” universe as she was one of the contestants with the least experience (compared to people there with 17 years + experience), but she managed to take out some pretty big players during her time on the show.

We were disappointed to see Julia go since she was someone that was easy to relate to and on a show like “Ink Master” where there are a lot of big, crazy personalities, it’s nice to have someone to root for that is as down to earth as Julia is. We had a chance to speak with Julia about her time on the show and she was happy to open up about her elimination, her confrontation with her canvas, and what she considers to be fair game play. Is the Ink Master environment as stressful as it looks?

Julia Carlson: It was a thousand times more stressful than what is shown!

What was your favorite challenge and why?

I loved the dimension challenge. I felt like while none of us really knew what we were doing, everyone pulled out some very beautiful pieces. I wanted to take mine home!!

During your elimination tattoo, do you feel that Joshua deliberately chose a style you were unfamiliar with for the interlocking tattoos in order to knock you out as Emily suggested?

At the time when he chose that style I felt comfortable enough that we could pull it off as a team. However, once Emily pointed out that he had intentionally tried to knock me out, I realized that he was not actually interested in working as a team to make our styles and the details connect to form a uniform piece. During the tattoo, I was trying to communicate with him, asking questions to make sure our shading and highlights were done the same and to make sure all of the details were the same. I was trying to work as a team, because it was a team challenge. Everyone else was communicating and I was trying to do the same. But he was in it all for himself and, unfortunately, I suffered the consequences of thinking I could trust my team mate.

A few weeks back we saw you tell Angel about Emily’s deception during the gluteus maximus tattoo challenge – what are your thoughts on this type of game play?

I feel like everything should be fair. I don’t feel like you should need to use trickery in order to win. Your tattoos should speak for themselves. If your artwork is up to par with that artist, you shouldn’t feel the need to mess with anything to try to make them slip up. If the artist isn’t capable, it will show in their work. Even though it is a competition, we should all have respect for each other and play fair at the end of the day.

Do you feel that you were too harsh when you swore at the canvas during the bio mech challenge and what was your take on that situation?

I feel like I took it too far by telling him to go F himself, yes. It takes a lot to get me angry, and I was livid at that point. He was not understanding what the challenge was. He did not want anything remotely biomechanical. Our compromise we reached was that he wanted the design to have steel plates with screws and cables incorporated into it. So I drew that, and put the bio aspect into the tattoo to meet the challenge. He didn’t like anything biomechenical at all. He only wanted mechanical, which was not the challenge. And at this point it had been so long of trying to come up with something to make him happy that our prep time was pretty much gone. I feel like I made the right decision to tattoo myself, because I gave myself something that met the challenge that he refused to get. I had a human moment and lost my temper out of frustration, which has never happened before. I am known for how I treat my clients, and in a normal shop setting I would have given him whatever his heart desired, but for the competition, you get the challenge.

You ended up in the bottom with Jason and Aaron: Were you surprised you went home over them?

I was extremely surprised and other people int he house were surprised as well. A lot of people were expecting Jason or Aaron to go home, and we all thought Mark would end up in the bottom with them. It was definitely a surprise when I went to the bottom and it blew my mind that I got sent home before them that day. I respect them immensely as artists and as people, but I felt like they did worse than me that day.

Who are you rooting for to win Ink Master this season?

I am rooting for my fellow rookie Cris Element. I feel like us rookies don’t get any respect, because we haven’t been around as long as the veterans, however, we prove time and time again that we can keep up with their work and surpass them. It doesn’t matter how long you have been tattooing. What matters is the talent within the person. I feel like he is severely underestimated in the competition for the same reasons why I was. He is an amazing artist and he plays fair without a ton of trash talking. He lets his artwork speak for itself.

If clients want to get a hold of you for a tattoo, what’s the best way for them to do so?

I am currently taking appointments by email at [email protected] or they can also contact me at Blue Velvet Tattoo in Langhorne, PA.


We want to thank Julia for her time and for being so open and candid with us. It’s rare these days to have an interview with someone that will tell it like it is and isn’t afraid to say what they mean: Julia brought this on TV, to this interview and continues to do so on all of her social media platforms. We love her for it!

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 (Caroline Evans, Elton “LT” Duarte, Jayvo Scott, Tim Lees, Ryan Eternal, Robbie Ripoll, Ty’Esha Reels, Angel Bauta, and Emily Elegado) and podcasts all about the show (or head here if you want to download our podcasts from iTunes).

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