Ink Master Season 12: Experience Isn’t Everything in Episode 3

Please note: This post contains spoilers about episode 3 of Ink Master Season 12.

Experience in tattooing only matters so much when it comes to a competition like Ink Master. 

Artists with years of professional experience under their belts go head-to-head against up-and-comers who are hungry to make names for themselves in a competitive industry. And sometimes—given the time constraints, the pressure, and the canvas assignments—older artists get burned. 

This week on Ink Master Season 12, Episode 3, the men’s and women’s teams worked with wire, focused on legibility, and got under each other’s skin in an effort to make it through one more round of the reality television contest.

Women’s Team Wired For the Win

In this week’s flash challenge, the judges asked the teams to create large-scale, three-dimensional pieces of art entirely out of wire. 

They had the option of using different color and different gauge wire to craft pieces with an emphasis on legibility—meaning the objects and the design had to be readable and easy to decipher from across the room. 

Former Ink Master contestants, Sara Miller and Bubba Irwin, who both competed twice in the franchise, came back to coach the teams through both the flash challenge and the elimination tattoo. 

Bubba Irwin and Sara Miller

Despite being pulled in different directions initially, both the men’s and women’s teams eventually settled on ideas and got to work. The women went with a large guitar and the men worked on creating a space scene with a human-scale astronaut. 

Women’s team flash challenge
Men’s team flash challenge

Contestant Cam Pohl volunteered to be the model for the astronaut and his team wrapped and modeled wire around him to create the finished shape. The women used two layers of chicken wire to create the body of the guitar and golden wire to build out the frets and tuning mechanisms. 

While the men’s team demonstrated more creativity, the judges ultimately decided to give the women the win because it hit the challenge of “legibility” better in their eyes. The win gave the women the ability to assign all skull picks in the elimination tattoo. 

Gunning for Cam

Throughout the episode, tensions flared between Cam and the other contestants on the women’s team—particularly Ash Mann, who confronted Cam about his ego.

“I’m so tired of arguing with someone who just has everything to say about everything,” Ash said after Cam confronted her and asked what her problem was with him. “You’re so fucking full of yourself. When you get on a role, and when you’re loving Cam—dude, come on—we get it, you think you’re the best. That’s good. That’s going to carry you far in this competition, but you have to understand that people might not like you because of it.”

Ash and Cam argue in the loft.

During skull picks, the women’s team definitely targeted Cam and gave him a canvas who asked for a face morphing into a tree with a three-eyed wolf protecting it…on his ribs. Lucky for him, Cam was able to convince his canvas to do the tattoo on his leg instead of his ribs.

Other doozies went to Pon, who was asked to create a Gorilla morphing with a forest and Fon, who was given a three-eyed, cloaked owl.

Surrealism Elimination Tattoo Challenge

For this week’s elimination tattoo, the artists were asked to create surrealistic tattoos—which traditionally blend elements of realism with the unconscious or absurd to create juxtaposition in one image. 

Members of the women’s team struggled a bit with this challenge from the start. “A few of the women have confidence issues and it’s killing me,” said Bubba. “In this competition you can’t doubt yourself. You have to think that you’re going to win no matter what.”

While a couple of the women really stepped up to the challenge and created beautiful pieces—particularly Dani Ryan, Laura Marie, and Ashley Anoneison—a couple of the ladies struggled. Ash and Janelle Hanson had a difficult time with their tattoos. 

Fon was awarded tattoo of the day for a consecutive weekly win, which meant the men’s team was able to meet with Sarah to put someone up for elimination. The men’s team chose Ash, figuring that the judges would also choose to send Janelle to the bottom. 

The men’s team was correct and Ash and Janelle from the women’s team were on the chopping block. The third contestant up for elimination this week was Big Jaz. His circus-themed tattoo had execution flaws and the judges failed to see surrealism in his piece. 

The judges agreed that Janelle’s tattoo had the least number of flaws and the decision came down to Jaz and Ash. Ultimately, although the decision was split, the judges sent Jaz home.

“I know I was a great contender. I didn’t really get a chance to prove myself,” Jaz said on his way out. “But I’ve definitely left my mark on a lot of people here, so I feel I’m the true winner.”

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