Sarah Miller survives another week on "Ink Master" but not without an emotional battle. We enter this week to see the contestants back at the loft and local Pittsburgh artist, Sarah Miller, with a range of emotions after losing to a “Star Wars” virgin. This is the start for an extremely rough week on the show for Miller which culminates to a point of extreme passion for staying in the competition.
This week the contestants are challenged on gradation, or the blend of light to dark colors. The contestants must scratch a design on a scratch board with a partner who will be judged under blacklight so there’s no way to hide imperfections. In addition to gradation, the judges were looking for adaptability and teamwork.
“I think the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard the assignment was "Oh (expletive deleted)." I had a really bad feeling about it,” said Miller. “I hoped that I would be assigned to Steve, Jamie. I mean, Mark I hadn't seen really draw before and I had no real idea of what he could do.”
Since Tatu Baby won the last elimination challenge, she was awarded the ability to assign the partners for this challenge. Her choices were as follows:
- Tatu Baby and Jesse Smith
- Steve Tefft and Sebastian Murphy
- Sarah Miller and Mark Matthews (the identified weak link of the remaining contestants)
- Clint Cummings and Jamie Davies
The winner of the flash challenge will have the ability (together) to assign the partners for the elimination challenge.
During the flash challenge, it seems like all the groups are working well together except for Miller and Matthews. The two obviously struggled working together and we saw Matthews sitting during many parts of the challenge and not contributing as much as Miller.
“I had a feeling I was going to be assigned to him and I decided to try and make the best of it,” said Miller. “Coming up with a concept was easy—Mark didn't mind and decided to let me run with ideas. It was tough trying to collaborate however because I was changing my idea to try and make him more comfortable and I wasn't getting much feedback off of him. He isn't a bad guy, I just wish I had known a bit more of what he could do before we had to work together.”
In the end, the judges had high comments for two teams and those were Murphy and Tefft and Tatu Baby and Smith. Both groups had a shared design and blended their styles. They both showed strong concepts and nice use of the scratch board.
Sadly, that left two teams on the bottom for Davies and Cummings and Miller and Matthews. The judges were concerned with their teamwork and concepts. The judges came right out saying that Miller and Matthews had the worst design of the flash challenge.
“Mark is a perfectionist and he can't work on larger areas,” said Miller. “He prefers to work in small areas and render them out. He was complaining that his hand was hurting and he took breaks to rest it—he had broken his thumb before coming to the contest and it was starting to act up. The biggest struggle was that I would finish an area and look over to see that he hadn't finished his and I would try and switch but then he would go over the area I had just finished. It wasn't the best experience but it could have been worse.”
Ultimately there can only be one winner and that was Smith and Tatu Baby. Back at the loft, tensions ran high when the contestants started grilling each other and it was perfectly clear these people are here to compete.
For the elimination tattoo, the contestants were judged on gradation of a black and gray style tattoo while working in teams. The teams had five hours to do a good and evil design on the same canvas. At this points, the contestants had become comfortable with the twists and turns of the contestant but no one saw a priest walk in as a canvas.
Instantly the contestants were all about getting the priest, but it was Tefft and Davies who were blessed with this particular canvas. After pairing Tefft and Davies, Tatu Baby and Smith paired themselves again and then grouped Matthews and Murphy together and Miller and Cummings.
“I actually like Clint a lot and I didn't mind having him as a partner,” said Miller. “He wasn't really that difficult to work with as a person and we both contributed ideas into something that meshed. The hardest part of working with him was tattooing the same area at the same time. That would have been the issue no matter who I was working with on this tattoo.”
While all the other canvases were happy to have one artist working on two different body parts, Miller and Cummings were stuck with a canvas that wouldn’t budget from his singular design concept and forced the two to work together in the same area with one of the artists working upside down.
“The dude we were tattooing didn't want to change his mind at all,” said Miller. “We told him that it was more difficult to work the way he wanted but he wouldn't budge. Everyone else got separate body parts and we kept telling him that it was dangerous, that it wouldn't come out the way he wanted it to and that it would be more painful for him. When your artist tells you something, this is why you should listen.”
In the end, the client was happy with his tattoo from Miller and Cummings, but they weren’t so certain it would stand up against the other artists who had a much easier time designing this week. Back at the loft, Tatu Baby started grilling Matthews to stop “talking and start walking” in this competition since he tends to talk a big game.
During critiques, Davies and Tefft received rave reviews for their preist tattoo, which captured an intense story and emotion using heavy darks and gradation to let the details come out. Davies had many small details making his a work of art.
For Tatu Baby and Smith, the judges felt it was an excellent team effort. Tatu Baby’s heavy black under the chin left a great impression. While Smith’s design was good, the judges wished the blacks were just a bit different.
Matthews and Sebastian stayed in the judges good graces with a nice gradation and smooth lines. The structure really came to life. While generally positive, the judges were concerned with Murphy’s flames being “a bit wimpy” and Matthews’ easy tattoo with minimal things. The judges also had concern over the size.
“I thought that Jamie had an amazing tattoo for what he was working with and how much he got done in that short time. It was clean and very well done,” said Miller. “I liked Baby's tattoo as well, it was very pretty. Mark's was dark, but it was clean. He his his differences in the anatomy pretty well. I felt like I kinda dropped the ball a little bit on this one. It was a really difficult work situation.”
When Miller and Cummings took the spotlight, not a kind word could be said about their design. The judges felt the pair didn’t work well together and the end wasn’t a good result. They felt there wasn’t much gradation and that Miller’s left forearm had poor shading. While they were going for a statue portrait, the arms and chest plate were the same tone.
For Cummings, the judges felt the head was oddly placed and attached to the shoulder. The anatomy was also a bit off. Cummings immediately became defensive of his design and stood his ground even as the judges lashed at him.
“He actually stuck up for us, for what we had to go through,” said Miller. “I appreciated him speaking his mind. Even if it seemed like we had problems working together, we really didn't and from this challenge I believe that I took away a true friend. Clint is a funny, awesome man and a kick ass artist.”
Back at the loft, Cummings stormed about the room and it seemed that Cummings was finally seeing things as Miller did with never being good enough. He eventually storms out of the room. When Tefft goes outside with him, Cummings declares that, “It’s Miller’s fault.”
In the end, the judges felt that Smith and Tatu Baby had the best design of the week with Tatu Baby being the ultimate winner. With the bottom two obviously Cummings and Miller, it was a surprise to see Matthews join them as well.
“I was a little surprised—at this point I felt like I was going home. My tattoo was the one that they liked the least and you don't see everything they said. I really didn't want to go home—I felt frustrated, tired, and I think that everything I felt came across.”
While the judges were ripping the bottom artists to shreds, at one point it looked as though Miller would be packing her bags, but not before a very emotional plea to the judges that she was not finished in this competition.
“This was the roughest episode for me. Personally there was other stuff going on in my life that was affecting me, and the challenge was the toughest out of the whole competition,” said Miller. “I think that I let everything get to me, the talking behind the backs, the lack of sleep... I think I'm a stronger person for it.”
While it was painfully obvious, Miller and Cummings had the worst tattoo of the night it was Matthews’ report card that found him on the chopping block and ultimately going home.
“When they sent Mark home, I knew that whatever I did the next challenge I had to bring my best,” said Miller. “They were going to be looking very closely at what I was doing and no mistakes were to be tolerated.”
This week the artists will be challenged by a Japanese style. Tune in tonight to see if Miller makes a comeback. And don’t forget to visit spike.com to vote for Miller after each episode.