Ink Master (season 4)

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Ink Master (season 4)
Hosted byDave Navarro
JudgesOliver Peck
Chris Núñez
No. of contestants17
WinnerScott Marshall
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes13
Original networkSpike
Original releaseFebruary 25 (2014-02-25) –
May 20, 2014 (2014-05-20)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 3
Next →
Season 5

The fourth season of the tattoo reality competition Ink Master premiered on Spike on February 25 and concluded on May 20, 2014 with a total of 13 episodes. The rules and format are similar to those of previous seasons. During the live season 3 finale, Kyle Dunbar won a spot to be on this season. Season four follows seventeen tattoo artists competing in an elimination-style contest, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize, a feature in Inked Magazine and the title of Ink Master.[1]

Judging and ranking[edit]

Judging Panel[edit]

The judging panel is responsible for passing judgement on each artist. They collaborate and use information from their own perception, the audience vote, human canvas vote, and the winner's worst vote to determine who should be sent home. Weight of decisions is set by the terms of the challenge skill.

Audience Voting[edit]

Audience voting, introduced in season two, is done through Facebook and Twitter using the available tattoos for vote on the Ink Master website. Voting will directly affect the contestant lineup for the following season; the contestant with the highest vote count will have the opportunity to return.

Human Canvas Jury[edit]

The canvases for the challenge gather after the tattoos are completed and vote on the best and worst of the days tattoos. While the primary judges have the final say, the weight of the canvas vote does affect the final decision of the judging panel.

Eliminatation Tattoo Winner's Pick[edit]

The winner of each elimination challenge is asked to pick an artist that he or she believes should be sent to the bottom based on their performance in the episode. However, this is not always the case. Some winners have selected persons for elimination who had applied a tattoo that was ranked among the top. The winner may pull his or her personal feelings and interpretations into their vote, as happened is episode three.


Contestant Name Years of Experience Hometown
David Bell 21 Fredericksburg, Virginia
Ashley "The Brat" Bennett 7 South Windsor, Connecticut
Jay "Gentle Jay" Blondel 15 Massapequa, New York
Damon Butler 4 Boston, Massachusetts
Lydia Bruno 11 Albany, New York
Keith Diffenderfer 14 York, Pennsylvania
Kyle Dunbar 19 Flint, Michigan
James "Jim" Francis 13 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Walter "Sausage" Frank 14 Las Vegas, Nevada
Josh "King Ruck" Glover 7 Las Vegas, Nevada
Matti Hixson 12 Virginia Beach, Virginia
Aaron "Bubba" Irwin 8 Scottsdale, Arizona
Sean Patrick "Halo" Jankowski 11 Baltimore, Maryland
Scott Marshall † 16 Chicago, Illinois
Melissa Monroe 6 Farmington, Wisconsin[disambiguation needed]
Roland Pacheco 9 Hawi, Hawaii
Randy Vollink 9 Mesa, Arizona

† Indicates that the contestant died after filming ended

Contestants progress[edit]

No. Contestant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
No. Flash Challenge
Halo Roland
Scott Matti Matti Halo Halo
Scott N/A Halo N/A N/A
11 Bubba Irwin IN IN LOW LOW IN OUT
12 Keith Diffenderfer IN IN IN IN LOW OUT
13 Roland Pacheco LOW LOW LOW LOW OUT
14 Randy Vollink LOW LOW LOW OUT
15 David Bell IN IN OUT
16 Ashley Bennett IMM QUIT
17 Damon Butler OUT
     The contestant won the competition and was named Ink Master.
     The contestant was the runner-up on Ink Master.
     The contestant was 3rd place on Ink Master.
     The contestant won best tattoo of the day.
     The contestant was immune from the elimination tattoo.
     The contestant was given an honorable mention by the judges.
     The contestant was considered to be among the top.
     The contestant was considered to be in the bottom.
     The contestant was among the bottom group in the judges recall.
     The contestant was voted worst tattoo of the day.
     The contestant was sent to the bottom by the elimination tattoo winner and was voted worst tattoo of the day.
     The contestant won the face-off.
     The contestant was sent to the bottom by the elimination tattoo winner.
     The contestant was eliminated from the competition.
     The contestant was sent to the bottom by the elimination tattoo winner and was eliminated.
     The contestant was voted worst tattoo of the day and was eliminated.
     The contestant was sent to the bottom by the elimination tattoo winner, voted worst tattoo of the day and was eliminated.
     The contestant withdrew from the competition.
     The contestant was disqualified from the competition.


Episodes begin with a flash challenge which is a task that usually does not deal with tattooing itself, but has the contestants utilize skills which are related to tattooing in an unusual way. Most of the time the skills highlighted in the flash challenge will be needed to complete the elimination tattoo. The winner of the flash challenge gets to pick which human canvas they would like to tattoo during the elimination tattoo and assign each contestant their canvas. For the elimination challenge, once the canvases are assigned,the contestants are given the 'rest of the evening' to meet with their canvas before tattooing them. On the day of elimination, the artist will be given a set amount of time to apply the tattoo the canvas and artist decided on the prior evening. Once the time expires, the judging panel reviews the works and the best tattoos of the week are recognized, the weak tattoos are pointed out, and one contestant is eliminated from the competition.[2]

Episode 1: Earn it![edit]

(aired on February 25, 2014.[3])
  • Flash Challenge: All artists, except for Kyle, must tattoo hundreds of canvases in a convention style. The winners will not only receive their own shop but will also not participate in the elimination tattoo. Winners: Matti, Scott, Ashley, Jim and Sausage
  • Elimination Tattoo: The remaining artists who did not win the flash challenge have been given one last chance to convince the judges that they deserve to be in the competition by tattooing in their own style. Winner: None - Eliminated: Damon
  • The Critique There was no winner for this challenge, but the judges selected Halo and Melissa as their favorites. Damon was eliminated for his lack of experience because the judges thought that the tattoos he did were not up to par for the challenge.
  • Human Canvas Verdict None

Episode 2: Bug Out[edit]

(aired on March 4, 2014.[4])
  • Skill of the Week: Dimension
  • Flash Challenge: Tattoo a three dimensional bug with the artist's own photo as a reference. Winner: Halo
  • Elimination Tattoo: The artists' first elimination tattoo has them creating an eye tattoo using the tattooing fundamentals with dimension being the key aspect. Dimension is defined as using shadows and highlights to make a tattoo appear to be popping off the skin. Winner: None - Quit: Ashley
  • The Critique The judges were not happy with most of the work, in fact they withheld the canvas voting, and eliminated the best tattoo position for this episode. In the end the reviews were low, and Ashley quit after having an emotional breakdown, but not before Kyle spoke his mind, which was not enough to prevent her from leaving the competition.
  • Human Canvas Verdict: None

Episode 3: Tatt Ganged[edit]

(aired on March 11, 2014.[5])
  • Skill of the Week: Consistency
  • Flash Challenge: Tattoo identical tattoos on twins.
    • This challenge required some skill and patience. Working in five teams of three, one artist in a team designed a tattoo, and the other two artists applied the tattoo on a mirrored part of the body (e.g. one artist tattoos an eagle on the left calf while the other artist tattoos the same eagle on the right calf). The goal is to match each other's tattoo to the original drawing as possible.
  • Team 1: David, Randy, Matti
  • Team 2: Jay, Keith, Lydia
  • Team 3: Roland, Sausage, Bubba
  • Team 4: Ruck, Halo, Kyle
  • Team 5: Scott, Melissa, Jim
  • Winners: Team 3: Roland, Sausage, Bubba
  • Elimination Tattoo: Geometric Tattoos
  • Winner: Sausage
  • Eliminated: David
  • Winner's Worst Choice Roland
  • Human Canvas Verdict: David

The Critique: Overall the judges were somewhat optimistic after the previous grillings they had given to the artists.

  • Scott was praised for having a great design, good consistent shading, and not putting an unnecessary background.
  • Bubba had a decent design, but flawed in his fade to skin. His tattoo seemed to suddenly fall off instead of fade out. There were a lot of shaky lines and no solid color.
  • The design and application of the tattoo by Sausage was admired by the judges. They mentioned that the pattern fit the arm well and the line-work was great.
  • King Ruck received the first of a few lower end reviews, with the judges mentioning that the grey was not solid.
  • The judges said Lydia's negative spaces are close to perfect, but the saturation of the grey is where consistency was lost.
  • Roland received good reviews from the judges with regards to line-work and solid black saturation. Sausage placed him up for elimination because of his past applications.
  • Halo was praised for his solid color saturation and for overall doing a clean job.
  • Melissa received good reviews with regards to the design and small intricate details but had some shaky lines.
  • Keith received similar reviews to Melissa with regards to line-work. The squares were not even, and he failed to color all the way to the end.
  • They said Kyle's lines were straight, shading was well done, and symmetry was all there.
  • Jay had a poor presentation, got poor marks from the judges, however the tattoo he applied had great color, fading, and outline, it just didn't meet the technical definition of the challenge.
  • Jim was praised by the judges for a simple design with good execution. The judges did tell him that if he had added just a little more depth to his outline, he would have wowed even more.
  • Matti was lectured for his design. His overlay onto the skin was flawed.
  • Randy had good outlines, but overly worked his piece. Heavily saturated placement made consistency hard to pinpoint.
  • David received the harshest review. No consistency at all with possible scarring to the canvas resulting. Design appears to be slapped into place and a term that floated around the judges table was "butchered his arm"

Episode 4: Nude & Tattooed[edit]

(aired on March 18, 2014.[6])
  • Skill of the Week: Placement
  • Flash Challenge: The artists must use their own judgement along with care to decide a design and location to place in order to accentuate the 'flow' of the body.
  • Winner: Scott

  • Elimination Tattoo: Aquatic Tattoo incorporating placement.
  • Winner: Scott
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Randy
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Roland
  • Eliminated: Randy

The Critique:

  • This challenge presented some issues to the various artists. The judges had some designs they liked, and others they did not.
  • The judges said that Scott executed good placement and had well shaded, well feathered, had applied an artistically pleasing design with a lot of depth.
  • Matti was slightly criticized for the black at the top but overall, a well done, nicely shaded bold tattoo with great line-work.
  • The judges thought Kyle was able to get a lot of detail one part of his design, but not in all, giving it an unfinished look.
  • Jim had a nice drawing and put small extra touches within the tattoo which made it look great.
  • Keith's tattoo was hard to read, due to the anchor and snake being of the same tone.
  • The judges felt that Halo had some issues when the flow of the design. He was also hit for his line-work
  • The judges said that Melissa's design appeared dull and unappealing.
  • King Ruck's tattoo was just a shark and a seal, with little to no indication that it was happening underwater. He received criticism for playing it too safe.
  • Roland received criticism from the judges because his overall design was poor. He had colors that were not solid and color blends that are not smooth.
  • Lydia received praise for her placement however the colors of her design hurt her.
  • Jay's overall result was decent, but the judges felt that the detail was lacking.
  • Bubba's critique was not what he expected. The judges said that he had a poorly drawn and executed design.
  • Sausage drew some awe from the judges. He was praised for having amazing drawing, detail and his placement made him shine brighter than the design itself.
  • Randy rolled out the session with weak outlines. The judges thought his work was too large for the amount of detail he applied. He also was coached about his color saturation levels.

Episode 5: X-Men's Hugh Jackman[edit]

(aired on March 25, 2014.[7])
  • Skill of the Week: Technical Precision
  • Flash Challenge: Tattoo a 'super power' Winner: Matti
  • Elimination Tattoo: Apply a tattoo of a X-Men character from the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie as chosen by the canvas. Winner: Scott Eliminated: Roland
  • The Critique The judges revealed their thoughts about this episode's content. Some artists passed, others failed. The film actor Hugh Jackman was brought into episode five as a guest judge. His view did not mimic the other judges, however the choice for winner did. The artists that received a good review for their use of realism, color, composition, and details in their work were Scott, Sausage, Matti, Melissa, Halo, and King Ruck. The artists that failed the color and detail aspect of the portrait color challenge were: Bubba, Lydia, Roland, Kyle, and Jim.
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Roland
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Lydia

Episode 6: 2-on-1 Tat-Astrophe[edit]

(aired on April 1, 2014[8])
  • Skill of the Week: Contrast
  • Flash Challenge: Tattoo each canvas with their personal beach; themed from Corona's 'Find your Beach' campaign. Winner: Matti - The winner of this Flash Challenge received a theme sponsored trip to Mexico.
  • Elimination Tattoo: Tattoo a Neo-traditional lady or gentleman. Each tattoo will be applied in teams on the same canvas at the same time. Designs should complement each other.
  • The teams are Sausage and Melissa, Jim and Bubba, King Ruck and Keith. Scott and Matti, Halo and Kyle, and Lydia and Jay Winner: Sausage Eliminated: Keith and Bubba
  • The Critique Greg Christian was selected as a guest judge resulting from his experience in the tattoo industry. The top contenders of this challenge based on the elimination challenge parameters were Scott, Sausage, Jay, Melissa and Matti. The lowest ranked contestants as determined by failure to adhere to the limits of the challenge were Ruck, Jim, Bubba, Lydia, Halo, Keith and Kyle. Keith, Bubba and Ruck were in the bottom 3. Although Ruck had a shaky outline, the judges admired his determination to stay in the competition; he executed a tattoo on himself after his canvas passed out, while Keith did not because he felt that he should not be judged on a piece he was unable to finish. In the end, Keith was eliminated for failure to work under circumstances.[clarification needed] Bubba was also eliminated for poor quality work despite having a great reference to work from.
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Keith
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Keith

Episode 7: Artist Slaughter[edit]

(aired on April 8, 2014.[9])
  • Skill of the Week: Adaptability
  • Flash Challenge: Apply lettering with an image embedded Winner: Halo

  • Elimination Tattoo: Cover-up a tattoo
  • Winner: Halo
  • Eliminated: King Ruck, Jim
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Jim
  • Human Canvas Verdict: King Ruck

  • The Critique; The judges indicated that two artists would be eliminated in this challenge prior to the beginning of the challenge. To pass this challenge, the artists must design and apply a tattoo on top of another tattoo, essentially erasing the original with their new application. Aspects taken into account during this challenge were line-work, shading, coloring, placement, technicality, and readability.
  • Jim failed to cover up the tattoo, as the original tattoo could still be seen. He was criticized for using light colors over dark lettering.
  • Matti had a good tattoo and it was successfully covered, but was hit for the cross being curved.
  • Scott was praised for keeping the warm colors away from the cover-up. An overall well-done tattoo.
  • Sausage received good marks for his design, and his use of contrast with the heavy black and saturated color. Chris did hit him a little for not doing enough black in the face.
  • The judges felt that Lydia did a creative job covering up her tattoo, but it needed richer black in certain areas.
  • Halo was praised for his color saturation, placement and color blends. An overall great tattoo.
  • Gentle Jay's tattoo was overly dark, and he received criticism for not using any highlights within the tattoo. He was also hit for the eyes and the texture in the smoke.
  • Melissa had shaky line-work and certain parts did not fit together well.
  • Kyle Dunbar was harshly criticized for the design of his tattoo.
  • King Ruck received heavy criticism for attempting to cover up a black area with golden colored horseshoes. According to the judges, his tattoo "screamed" cover-up.

Episode 8: Ink Master Explosion[edit]

(aired on April 15, 2014.[10])
  • Skill of the Week: Black and Gray
  • Flash Challenge: Use black powder gun to burn an image onto a canvas. Winners: Halo, Scott
  • Elimination Tattoo: Tattoo a demon using black and gray shading, using the negative space to accent. Winner: Sausage Eliminated: Lydia
  • The Critique Kyle was disqualified during this episode for physically assaulting Chris Núñez, one of the judges. Rob Zombie was selected as a guest judge. To pass this challenge, the artists had to tattoo a black and gray demon and feature negative space. The contestants that passed this challenge were Scott, Sausage, and Matti. The contestants that failed this challenge were Lydia, Melissa, Halo, and Jay.
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Lydia
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Melissa

Episode 9: Fighting Dirty[edit]

(aired April 22, 2014.[11])
  • Skill of the Week: Detail
  • Flash Challenge: Create a custom mouth grill with a dremel for Brandon Rios. Winner: Scott
  • Elimination Tattoo: Design and apply a warrior tattoo; era and type of warrior not restricted. Winner: Matti - Eliminated: None of the artists were eliminated.
  • The Critique To pass this challenge, the artists must tattoo a warrior with details to illustrate the origin.[clarification needed] All of the contestants passed this challenge. The judges decided not to eliminate an artist this episode, and indicated the reason was because no one should be eliminated for giving "a good tattoo". All artists applied satisfactory tattoos, albeit some were better than others.
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Jay
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Jay
  • Controversy: Prior to the critique, Jay found evidence of tracing in Scott's tattoo, which he recognized from an online source. However, the judges did not take any action after Jay revealed the incident during the critique. Their decision led to a public outcry, with many fans questioning the integrity of the competition and some even accusing the judges of favoring Scott over other artists.

Episode 10: Tag Team Tatt[edit]

(aired April 29, 2014.[12])
  • Skill of the Week: Flexibility
  • Flash Challenge: There was no flash challenge
  • Elimination Tattoo: Create a collaboration tattoo with another artist. Judging will be done as a team. Winner: Scott and Halo
  • Human Canvas Verdict: There was no human canvas vote
  • Winner's Worst Choice: There was no winners worst selection
  • The Critique To pass this challenge, the artists must create a collaboration tattoo with another artist in teams of two, alternating who actually applies the tattoo every hour. The team that passed this challenge was Halo and Scott. The teams that failed were Jay and Melissa, Sausage and Matti.
  • Face Off Challenge This episode has a head to head challenge to determine which artist will be eliminate. The two facing off are Melissa and Jay. The tattoo they are to apply are identical, designed by the guest judge, Luke Wessman. There was a 4-hour time limit for this face off. Face-off Winner: Melissa - Eliminated: Jay

Episode 11: Karma's a Bitch[edit]

(aired May 6, 2014)
  • Skill of the Week: Proportions
  • Flash Challenge: Create a proportionally accurate sketch of The Statue of Liberty. Use the sketch as the only reference to apply a tattoo. Winner: Halo
  • Elimination Tattoo: Winner: Matti - Eliminated: Melissa
  • The Critique To pass this challenge, the artists must tattoo a Japanese style snake on the ribs of the client with all aspects of tattooing being applied, however proportion is the primary focus. The artist that passed this challenge was Matti. The artists that failed this challenge were Melissa, Sausage, Halo and Scott. Halo, Scott and Melissa were in the bottom 3; Melissa was the artist eliminated. Although the judges stated that Melissa did not have the worst tattoo of the day, they could not overlook the fact that she was the only artist in the top 5 to never win an elimination tattoo challenge.
  • Winner's Worst Choice: Halo
  • Human Canvas Verdict: Scott

Episode 12: Fight to the Finish[edit]

(aired May 13, 2014)
  • Skill of the Week: Combine all skills of tattooing
  • Flash Challenge: There was no flash challenge this episode.
  • Elimination Tattoo: Winner: Sausage - Eliminated: Halo
  • The Critique This was a two tattoo session challenge. To pass this challenge, the artists must tattoo a design decided upon by the canvases. Each canvas has survived cancer and has scarring from surgery in the first session. The second half of the elimination challenge required the artists to cover-up tattoos that were done during the competition by the eliminated contestants. However, one of the tattoos was unsafe to cover-up due to a bad reaction to the ink; so, one contestant was assigned an open canvas.

Episode 13: Ink Master Live[edit]

(aired May 20, 2014)
  • Skill of the Week: Combine all skills of tattooing
  • Elimination Tattoo: Winner: Scott - Runner Up: Sausage - Eliminated: Matti
  • The Critique Presented in front of a live audience, broadcast live on the parent network, Ink Master Live combines all aspects of tattooing to present the best artist this season. The remaining artists Scott, Matti and Sausage gave it their all for a chance to become Ink Master.
  • During this episode, the judges announced a new format for season 5. Called Ink Master Rivals and set to air in September 2014, this season will see the return of Joshua Hibbard and Jason Clay Dunn. It was also said that each artist will bring their own rival. Whether the rival would be from previous seasons artists lineup was not clear.


  1. ^ "Meet the Contestants of "Ink Master" Season 4 – Premieres Tues., Feb 25 « Spike Press". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  2. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes". Spike. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  3. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Earn It!". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  4. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Bug Out". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  5. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Tatt Ganged". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  6. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Nude & Tattooed". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  7. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | X-Men's Hugh Jackman". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  8. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | 2 On 1 Tat-Astrophe". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  9. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Artist Slaughter". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  10. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Ink Master Explosion". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  11. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Fighting Dirty". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  12. ^ "Ink Master | Tattoo Competition Reality Show | Full Episodes | Spike | Tag Team Tatt". SPIKE. Retrieved 2014-04-27.

External links[edit]