Ink Master season 9 premiere review: Are the married couples the ones to beat?

Allegory arts

Ink Master season 9 has a lot to live up to after such an awesome season last year, but after looking at the new artists (you can check out our artist spotlights at the link here), we have even higher hopes for this season! There is a lot of great talent here and a fun twist as the show is highlighting not only the artists, but also the shops. We will have two artists from each shop competing and because of the twist this season, the ultimate title up for grabs is not only Ink Master for the artists, but also Master Shop which tells us that we should expect some alliances! Add to that the larger cash prize ($200,000) and we know that the artists will be hungry to win. Also know that these artists will either win as a team or lose as a team and if they lose, they are both eliminated, so working together is more important then ever before.

Flash challenge: As we have seen on Ink Master over the past 8 seasons, they love to throw the artists a curve ball in the first challenge, not only to see how creative they are, but to see how they work under pressure (and in this case also how they work together as a team). We were not surprised to see how difficult this first challenge was… and it is difficult. The teams created sculptures that best represent their shop using a block of ice.

Because the teams were not selected at random, and everyone knew the person they were coming on the show with before hand, we expected to see the artists working really well together – and we did for the most part. Allisin and Jessy are the only all female team and mentioned that they are underestimated in the industry because they are two females, but they are coming onto this show right after Ink Master season 8 where we not only had an amazing female alliance crush everyone, but we also had a female winner and there is a 10 episode spin off show coming up called Ink Master: Angels (you can read more about that show here) that is featuring the four women from that alliance. So while we understand that being a female in a male dominated industry gives us more to prove, we also think that Allisin and Jessy are in an arena that allows for more equal footing.

We also had our first married couples on the show with Ulyss Blair and Eva Huber, as well as Dane Smith and April Nicole and we can’t help but have a special place in our heart for them since CarterMatt also has a married couple as founders of the site working together in harmony.

As for the pairs that had a few bumps working together, we saw Danger Dave and Bang butting heads pretty early on. With Danger Dave revealing that he didn’t think that the teams were going to be a twist that would hold on all season, we are immediately worried for them if they can’t find a way to become fluid together. We are also a little worried for Doom Kitten and Erin Chance considering that they have only been working together for 5 months and Erin is Doom Kitten’s boss so there’s that dynamic going on. Talk about stress on top of stress!

There were a lot of really cool ice sculptures and for artists that have never worked with a medium like this before, we were seriously impressed. The judges loved what Ulyss and Eva did and also the heart sculpture created by Allisin and Jessy (which was incredibly cool!). The winners were Ulyss and Eva, making them safe for the week, but being the first winners also comes with the disadvantage of having a target on your back as the ones to beat.

Flash challenge # 2: Normally after a flash challenge, we move into the elimination tattoo, but this time around we are having a second flash challenge! First they were working with ice, now it’s fire or more specifically hot liquid metal. They have to make a sign with their shop’s name in custom lettering out of metal. The team that wins this challenge will also be safe from elimination.

Right away Danger Dave and Bang are butting heads again and we worry that if these two can’t find some common ground working together that they are going to go home before their time. To be fair though, a lot of the artists had a hard time with this challenge as the hot liquid metal was more difficult to work with then many anticipated. Misspelled words (who misspells the name of their own shop!?!?!), illegible lettering, drywall stuck to the metal – disasters pretty much all around here. The duo that really stood our for us was Erin and Doom Kitten – their sign was awesome and not just because they incorporated a unicorn (more unicorn, more better). The judges agreed with us and they are safe from elimination.

Elimination tattoo: The judges have said many times that only an artist that can draw can win the Ink Master title (remember Joshua Hibbard going home because they said he couldn’t draw?), so for the elimination tattoo they are making the artists tattoo images of animals on their canvas, but they can only use a live animal as the reference. We had snakes, hawks, and alligators as the references and the artists can tattoo in any style they choose as they tag team on the same tattoo. We love challenges like this right out of the gate because it gives us a chance to see these artists at their best and if they can’t make a tattoo work at their best then we don’t want to see them when they are really challenged.

Judging: There were a lot of rough tattoos here and it was mostly from the artists that took on the snake, but we saw some rough hawk and alligators tattoos as well. Our favorite tattoo was the hawk that Dane and April created (and they won best tattoo of the day), which showed us that the married couples are the real threats this season. As for who was called back for elimination we had Danger Dave and Bang, Jhon Campuzano and Babiery Hernandez, and Wes Hogan and Mike P. When John and Babiery said that their tattoo didn’t meet the challenge, that was it for them and they were eliminated.

Our early predictions are that the married couples are the ones to beat. From our own experience working as a married couple we find that it’s a lot easier to be in-sync with each other because there is a deeper relationship outside of either just friendship or being co-workers. Living with someone also gives couples a deeper understanding of how the other person is at their worst which will be really helpful in a stressful environment like Ink Master. So far the married couples have shown us that they can tattoo, and work well together – now we want to see how they cope when the stress really amps up. Episode grade: A-

What did you think of the Ink Master season 9 premiere and do you have an early favorite? Leave us a comment in the box below. If you want more scoop on Ink Master season 9 then head to the link here where you can check out a preview for the next episode along with exit interviews we will be doing with the eliminated contestants all season. (Photo: Spike)

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