Ink Master Season 12: DJ Tambe Coaches the Women to Victory on Episode 4

Please note: This post contains spoilers about Ink Master Season 12, Episode 4.

On the fourth episode of Ink Master Season 12: Battle of the Sexes, the competition started to take its toll on certain players—mainly Cam, who spent the majority of the episode whining that no one likes him while saying shit that causes people not to like him. 

With just 15 tattoo artists remaining, things like flash challenges and skull picks start to take on more importance. And this week’s team flash challenge was all about contrast.

The Women’s Team: Flash Challenge Champions

We don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like we’re seeing a little bit of a pattern, here. For the second week in a row, the women’s team killed the flash challenge. This week’s ask? To create a cohesive, contrast-heavy art piece that spanned several disjointed walls. 

To assist with coaching this week, Ink Master welcomed back artists DJ Tambe and Katie McGowen—two tattooers who excel in color work and are familiar with the pressure of the televised competition. 

DJ Tambe and Katie McGowen return to Ink Master

DJ immediately brought energy and focus to the women’s team—and we gotta admit—it was fun seeing him back on the show. 

“If you’re a coach, you’re a coach. I don’t care if it’s male or female. I’m gonna coach the same way,” said Tambe. “And if I can be that key that gets them to that next challenge and keeps my team here, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The women went for a bee-themed piece that showed different sized buzzing insects against a bright blue sky and a hive in the background. 

Ink Master Season 12 episode 4 women's team flash challenge
Flash challenge from the women’s team

Once again, the men’s team had a hard time getting on the same page, and McGowen didn’t take any decisive action to step in and lead the pack. While the women were off painting walls and getting their design moving, the men were quibbling over all the elements. 

Men’s team flash challenge artwork

Eventually, the men landed on an underwater scene with a glowing fish that provided some sharp contrast. But it wasn’t enough to beat the ladies. The judges all picked the women for the win, and the female team was awarded skull picks during the elimination tattoo. 

Let’s Talk About Cam

Episode #4 opened with a pow-wow between artists from both the men’s and women’s teams talking about fellow competitor Cam Pohl, so the tone about the 27-year-old artist from Lansing, Michigan was set from the start. 

Cam’s confidence (or arrogance) was obviously a sticking point during the filming of the show and artists from both teams began to gang up on him. Even his own teammates—Jake Ross and Fon in particular—wanted to see Cam go home. And you may remember that Cam and Ash Mann were at each other’s throats on episode 3

The women gave Cam a difficult skull pick—a panther and rose tattoo on the knee. But giving the way he was strutting around and running his mouth, you’d never think Cam was worried. “The women’s team knew that I could handle any of these designs, so they defaulted to a difficult placement,” he said. “They’re going to have to try way fucking harder than that to trip me up.”

Contestant Cam Pohl stirs up trouble

During a heated conversation, Cam brought up feeling like he was being targeted and attacked on a personal level. When Ash Mann and Ashley Anonesion tried to calmly explain their point of view, Cam wouldn’t let them finish their thoughts. He even berated Pon when Pon attempted to stick up for him. 

Despite his confidence level, Cam was tripped up by the elimination tattoo. During his critique the judges got on his case for the lack of black in the piece and weren’t pleased with the design of the roses. 

Cam Pohl’s elimination tattoo

Fortunately for Cam—and all viewers who crave drama—his tattoo did not land him in the bottom and everyone (including us) are stuck with him for at least one more episode. 

Elimination Tattoo Trauma for One Contestant

This week’s elimination tattoo challenge was to execute neotraditional animal tattoos in the usual six-hour time frame. 

Certain artists excelled at this challenge—specifically Dani Ryan, Pony Wave, and Holli Marie from the women’s team and Creepy Jason and Tito Zambrano from the men’s team. But it was Creepy Jason who was awarded tattoo of the day. 

Others didn’t fare so well. On the women’s team, the judges had tough critiques to Ash Mann, Janelle Hanson, and Ashley Anonesion. On the men’s team, the judges were disappointed in tattoos from Cam Pohl and Justin Nordine.

The men’s team, who took home tattoo of the day thanks to Creepy Jason, picked Ashley to put up for elimination. The judges added Ash and Justin to the bottom. 

Ultimately, the judges chose to send Justin home due to the skin trauma in his gorilla-face tattoo. It was a style and challenge that was completely outside of his comfort zone. Unfortunately, for Justin—who came across like a genuine guy throughout the whole competition—the challenge just got the better of him. 

Tattoo by Justin Nordine

“I feel like I didn’t find my footing the way I had wanted to,” Justin said during his final interview. “Being here is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I am a risk taker. I got out of my comfort zone and I’m proud of that. If we don’t take risks, what’s the point?”

An Additional Note of Importance

As viewers of Ink Master, we only see what is edited into episodes. We don’t see behind the scenes. Since the filming of the show, Justin Nordine has been open about his personal struggles with depression and anxiety—including a suicide attempt earlier this year—on his blog.   

In a blog post published on July 1, Justin makes it clear that Ink Master is not the reason for his suicide attempt. “My suicide attempt was a gathering of so much bullshit that I didn’t want to face, it led me down a pretty dark path,” he wrote. “But filming Ink Master had nothing to do with any of that.”

Justin Nordine

He admits that the show “fucked with his anxiety” and that it was a challenging thing to tattoo and be judged under such circumstances. But Justin says that Ink Master does not have “that much validity in his day-to-day life.” 

“I won’t give my depression to any one thing or any one person. It’s an accumulation of life and not dealing with it in a healthy light,” he writes on his blog.

We wanted to mention this here because Justin’s blog and his own experiences—the fact that he is still here and happy to be alive—may help others who are struggling. Justin’s blog is a real and authentic expression of a tattoo artist as a person living with depression—not just a television personality or a social media influencer. 

So, although he was eliminated from a (rather silly) reality television competition, we’ll be rooting for him always.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and you need help, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Please note: This post has been updated to correct Janelle Hanson’s last name.

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  1. Janelle Hanson says

    My name is Janelle Hanson. Not Janelle Evans… so that’s that I guess 🤷🏼‍♀️

    1. Deidre Grieves says

      This has been corrected. Apologies!

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