Last night on the Ink Master season 9 finale, Bubba Irwin and DJ Tambe of Old Town Ink were declared the official winners. They fought hard ever since their arrival on episode 2, and overcame a lot including being a frequent target and also starting earlier in the season than the other two finalists Basilica Tattoo and Black Cobra Tattoo.
Over the years we’ve put out a comprehensive winner ranking here at CarterMatt, one that is based on overall performance, competition level, and also whether or not the judges made the right decision in the finale to begin with. It’s been fun looking back at all of the past seasons in doing this project (we have been covering this show since season 1), and we’re glad to say that DJ and Bubba’s shop is now included on the list. Take a look at that list at the link here.
The first thing worth noting is that we tried to take the fact that they are a duo out of the equation, and focused on them as a collective entity. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but they complimented each other very well. While Bubba found himself the target of unnecessary criticism at times he stepped up and delivered a number of really awesome tattoos; not only that, but he also studied and worked harder than arguably any other artist returning to the show. We’re not sure how the guy ever slept with all of his studying and hard work learning new styles and techniques, but it paid off given that he and DJ now have the title of Master Shop and the $200,000. DJ’s creativity largely speaks for itself, and he’s clearly one of the most passionate people to ever turn up on the show. (We do wonder if his inclusion this season means that other Best Ink contestants could come on to Ink Master in the future, as well.)
As for where we’ve got Old Town Ink in the rankings, they’re ahead of soon-to-be-returning Steve Tefft and behind Ryan Ashley Malarkey at #4. They didn’t have too many issues during the season — they were in danger here and there during the season, but never had any truly bad tattoos. They were consistent throughout, and they had arguably some of the best tattoos that we’ve ever seen on the show.
What were their issues? You can argue that their finale win wasn’t that flashy compared to some in the past, and technically they didn’t have to compete in the first episode because they came in late. Yet, they still did arrive earlier than all of the other veterans, and this disparity would be been even larger had either Black Cobra or Basilica won the season last night.
Old Town were very good artists this season, and in terms of ambassadors for the brand they’re likable and seemed to embrace being the underdogs at times. We foresee business booming for the two of them in the aftermath of doing this show.
Where do DJ and Bubba stand to you as winners?
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