Unkindness Art Ink Master Finale – I Chat with Erin Chance & Doomkitten

unkindness art ink master

Unkindness Art Ink Master – Headed to the Finale?

If you are like me you have a love/hate relationship with tattoo reality shows. I love seeing artists at work that I have never heard of, or even better, watching some of my favorites show off their formidable skills. What I hate is the nonsense fluff and falseness that seems to be an inevitable part of reality shows and is especially rank in Ink Master – the longest running tattoo reality show. I wish they would simply allow the artists to work, and show more of the work, with waaay less drama. As a hardcore tattoo nerd I would be delighted to watch artists draw and tattoo for a solid hour, with a little background on how they whipped up their sketch. Like Face Off on SyFy where you really get to see the work and everyone cooperates and there is zero drama. But I digress.

This season Ink Master re-introduced a tactic seen in season 7. Instead of starting with 18 shops (teams of 2 compete for master shop instead of individual artists this season) and whittling away week by week they began season 9 with 9 shops and every time one was eliminated another shop was introduced. This makes for “good” drama but seemed unfair to the teams that were there from the beginning, fighting for their spot week after week, only to have a newly arrived team (or two) be in line for the finale after competing for way less time. But no one ever said reality TV was fair so there you go. My number one pick since week 1 has been Unkindness Art with co-owner Erin Chance and shop resident artist Doomkitten.

Erin and Doom have been consistent throughout the show with quality work, strong concepts, and smooth applications. They have had some spectacularly difficult clients and they have still maintained their cool and professionalism. Erin has steered clear of muckraking as it is not her style and she basically put her foot down and refused to dish, so that left Doom to be the “mouthy” one. However his inherent niceness bleeds through and he completely lacks the douche-factor that some of the other teams have displayed. The impression you get is that Doom and Erin are actually there to tattoo and all the wacky flash challenges and palace intrigue is just making it needlessly challenging for them to actually get some f-ng tattoos done.

For a team that has focused on their tattoos first and foremost and avoided the needless bragging, throw downs, and shit slinging, Unkindness Art stand out as a serious, classy, team that makes excellent tattoos. It is worth noting that they are the ONLY original team to still be in the competition. Old Town Ink came in on the second episode (and appears to be a judges favorite with a lot of early wins), and Basilica Tattoo came in episode 7, with Black Cobra Tattoos coming in episode 8. Unkindness has stayed in the game and mostly avoided the bottom (although it’s clear that the judges send everyone to the bottom at one point just to make it more “real”) with several strong wins in their column.

All said it has been a screetchy, angsty, season that has a lot of personal intrigue (real or forced – you decide) and not nearly enough actual footage of tattooing. The judges appear to be biased in a way that makes me feel like they can not be counted on to actually select the best teams for the finale – although in fairness the final 4 teams are all strong – and certainly not pick the very best team as the winner. I’m thinking of that Twitter vote BS from last year that essentially pre-selected the final two contestants. Let’s hope that talent and professionalism win out. Even though I will hate myself in the morning I will watch the finale and root for my favorite team – which is of course Unkindness and damn well better be in that finale or I will cancel my subscription to Spike TV and then when will I be able to watch 10 hours of Cops reruns?

As it happens I am very lucky to be getting tattooed at Unkindness Art in Richmond VA by the amazing Teresa Sharpe (another veteran of the tattoo reality wars and winner of Best Ink season 2 – the slightly more classy and gentler tattoo reality show that had a 3 season run on Oxygen). I have also had the pleasure of chatting with both Erin and Doom and may or may not have bribed them with promises of baked goods if they took time out of their insanely busy schedules to answer a few questions.

Erin Chance

Tattoo Tourist: How did you get into tattooing? 

Erin: I was always interested in tattoos, but long story short I was at animation school and there was a tattoo shop across the street. I spent more time at the shop than school and eventually the guys there helped me find an apprenticeship.

TT: What is your favorite part of being a tattoo artist?
Erin: There are so many ways to answer that question! I love that I get to draw for a living. I love that it provides so many opportunities for travel, and meeting amazing people (such as yourself). Then there’s the fact that people trust us to permanently alter their bodies! That’s pretty incredible.

TT: How would you describe your style?
Erin: I usually just say color illustrative. Haha, it’s kind of cop-out answer but I have so many influences, I don’t know how else to describe it.

unkindness art ink master

Neotat Tattoos Erin Chance Hunters Full Back for Erin Chance Tattoo Artist – Tattoo A to Z .Com

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Erin Chance

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Erin Chance

TT: Who do you consider to be your biggest influences?
Erin: Martin Emond and Simon Bisley are the reasons I wanted to be a professional artist. Dean and Dan Sacred (Sacred Tattoo, Auckland, NZ) were hugely influential in helping me develop a style when I was learning. And my business partner Teresa Sharpe keeps me on my toes. Getting to watch her work every day is unreal.

TT: What kind of things do you and Teresa have planned for Unkindness?

Erin: Oh man. So much! We travel A LOT! Coming up we have conventions in Barcelona, the Bahamas, New Zealand, Edinburgh, and Limerick, as well as US shows.
We’re having our shop anniversary on Fri Oct 13, with a vampire themed art show. (I am SO going to that!)
And we are expanding the shop upstairs and want to live stream tattooing more often.

TT: Do you like watching Ink master season 9 unfold on TV?
Erin: Honestly I don’t have cable so I’ve only seen a few episodes! Haha. Tuesday nights are crazy though! My phone blows up with notifications.

TT: What conventions are you most looking forward too for the upcoming 2018 season?
Erin: Edinburgh!!! It’s my favorite city that I’ve visited (so far) and I haven’t  been there in years. Also Limerick because I have Irish citizenship, and I’ve never been to Ireland >_< ha.

Thank you Erin!  Fun fact about Erin – she is also a wicked cos-player!

OK now let’s hear from the guy who brought back the Polo shirt and is a HUGE ADVOCATE OF CAPS – Doomkitten.

Doomkitten

Tattoo Tourist:  How did you get into tattooing?
Doomkitten: I love art, it’s really my only true passion. When I was younger I explored every possibility. I was working towards becoming a video game designer in some regard when I was offered the opportunity to take on a tattoo apprenticeship (I had already worked in a tattoo studio as the receptionist a few years prior). While the shop that I apprenticed at was new and carried with it all the issues of a brand new shop it really helped me get my foot in the door, and in this industry getting your foot in the door and having dedication is all you need.. AND I REALLY FUCKING MEAN DEDICATION.

TT: What is your favorite part of being a tattoo artist?
Doom: I really love reflecting and getting to see how much you can grow with a side by side comparison as the years go on. I love that it is constantly evolving and that every year I get to try or explore something new! I also love reaching a place where my creative input and vision are truly valued, it makes every experience unique, challenging, and rewarding.

TT: How would you describe your style?
Doom: On Ink Master I was asked the same question (the network made something up) and they aired that I specialize in “Girls with Things on Their Heads” however I want to take this opportunity to coin the term “Neo Japanese Real-ustration” (getting that on a T-Shirt…)

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Doomkitten

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Doomkitten

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Doomkitten

TT: Who do you consider to be your biggest influences?
Doom: A lot of my biggest influences actually come from comic book artists and writers! Bernie Wright IS A HUGE INSPIRATION because I have NO GODDAMN IDEA HOW HE EXECUTES ANYTHING! Rockin’ Jellybeans style is something I constantly look at, Teresa (*Sharpe) introduced me to Ayami Kojima and I am a huge fan of her works! Yoshitaka Amano and all of Final Fantasy, Frank Cho, Adam Hughes, Jack Kirby, Jamie Hewlett, Fiona Staples… All of these artists have influenced me at some point, and I continue to find new people who are doing something so amazingly creative! Also as a note J.R.R. Tolkein is probably the biggest influence on my art (as well as Neil Gaiman). I love being able to mentally concur an image off a written description, it makes it absolutely unique and mine. Surprisingly very few tattoo artists move me in the way comic and print illustrators do, but the name I think of for showing me that tattooing does not have to follow the “traditional” rules, that you can really break all of that and work to have your vision come to life is Shige at Yellowblaze Studio.

TT: How did you come to be an artist at Unkindness?
Doom: I had never heard of Teresa while I was working in New Mexico (I try to follow as little tattoo artists as possible because it discourages me hahahahah) But my coworker had mentioned that she had a painting contest and I was in a rut so a contest seemed fun and pushed me to paint and I did and I won… I was supposed to just get a free tattoo session (which I sit like a little punk ass, just ask Erin )    so I gave that to my girlfriend at the time and instead I was offered a job and it was an AMAZING opportunity so I sold everything that was precious to me, packed up my shit and left New Mexico a few months later, and I don’t regret a single moment.

unkindness art ink master

Tattoo by Erin for which Doom sat like a little punk ass.

TT: Do you like watching Ink master season 9 unfold on TV?
Doom: Alright full disclosure honesty… I only watched the first 3 episodes and haven’t seen one since. It’s a TV show and not a very good one at that. It offers me nothing that is worth a weekly hour of my time. The experience of being on the show is a different story but why would I watch mindless, produced, fluff when story driven, well thought out shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Voltron, and Daredevil exist? Plus I was already there for everything they show and it’s not a memory lane trip I really feel the need to take hahahah.

TT: If you could change one thing about your spot on Ink Master what would it be?

Doom: If I could change one thing about my time on Ink Master it would be… honestly…. probably asked for Xanax.

TT: Do you feel like your time on Ink Master gave you new skills/info about being an effective tattoo artist?
Doom: MY time on the show did, and not because of ANY GODDAMN THING about the show but because I got to work so close with Erin, she is AMAZING and a really good teacher! Especially when we are stressed and forcibly  have to work together, void of any comforts in our natural habitats!

unkindness art ink master

The friendship is real. And check out those GWAR Bar mugs!

TT: Any dream conventions you would like to attend?
Doom: Currently I am working on traveling throughout Europe! I would love to visit every country I could just to experience that culture and to take something away from them. I don’t know convention names very well or which ones are the new hotness. My life is what I make it, I don’t need to ride someone’s coat tails to build my name, because every time I have it’s actually slowed me down, so any convention ANYWHERE is good enough for me!

Thanks Doom! You can count on a dozen Blondies for all your efforts!

Ink Master airs this Tuesday and will decide which 3 teams continue on to the Finale. Fingers crossed for Unkindness – they have been there since episode one and clearly deserve a shot at Best Shop on Ink Master.

The post Unkindness Art Ink Master Finale – I Chat with Erin Chance & Doomkitten appeared first on The Tattoo Tourist.