Tattoo artists Carlos Rojas and Aric Taylor of Hesperia’s Black Anchor Collective were able to withstand the cold during the first episode of the ninth season of "Ink Master" on Spike TV.
The first episode kicked off with a frosty challenge with Rojas and Taylor in the mix competing for big rewards.
Nine shops were in the running during Tuesday’s inaugural episode of the show’s new “Shop Wars” twist, each competing to ultimately win $200,000, a feature in Inked Magazine and the title of “Master Shop.”
In the first flash challenge, artists from each of the shops were faced with 100 tons of ice in which each had to create a sculpture that best represented their shops.
“Everything in this competition depends on you guys working together,” artist Chris Nunez of “Miami Ink” fame told competitors ahead of the challenge. “If you’re a true artist, you can make art out of anything.”
Nunez is a judge along with renowned tattoo artist Oliver Peck of Elm Street Tattoo and musician, filmmaker and artist Dave Navarro.
“This is your chance to bond as a team,” Peck said to the 18 artists.
Navarro announced the winner of the challenge would be in for a big advantage: safety from the first elimination.
Following the four-hour design and sculpt period, Black Anchor’s sculpture, a design of an open torch and flame, was dealt some hefty criticism.
Nunez called their sculpture “flat” in comparison to the other teams’ 3D designs.
“Being the first challenge out of the gate, take the breaks off,” Nunez told Rojas and Taylor in his critique of their sculpture. “You gotta go, man — go, go, go.”
Artists Ulyss Blair and Eva Huber from Allegory Arts in Florence, Alabama ultimately won the challenge with their sculpture of their shop’s logo designed within an outline of their home state.
The eight remaining competing shops moved on to the second flash challenge: creating a design of their shop’s name using custom lettering in metal.
The competitors had to first create and carve the design in plaster and then pour liquid hot metal into the molds to complete their entry.
“Lettering can go wrong real quick,” Rojas told cameras and viewers. “If everything’s not consistent, the lines are shaky, if it doesn’t have a nice flow to it, it’s not gonna look right.”
Unfortunately for Black Anchor, the lettering did go wrong; the lettering read “RLACK” instead of “BLACK,” drawing harsh words from Peck.
“Nothing is worse than misspelling your own shop name,” Peck said.
“I know we messed up, man, we should have caught that,” Rojas said in quick reply.
Nunez tried to offer a silver lining of sorts.
“On a positive note, the ‘Anchor’ is the best penmanship and craftsmanship we’ve seen so far out of any of the pieces,” Nunez said after seeing the Black Anchor design, which was presented fourth to the judges.
With Unkindness Art winning that challenge and escaping elimination, the last seven shops then moved to the tattoo challenge. Here, artists tag-teamed a single design on a single canvas, only one artist working at a time.
Their mission was to design and create a tattoo from one of three live references: a boa constrictor, a hawk or an alligator.
Black Anchor designed theirs based on the alligator’s head and when it came to critiquing, they seemingly turned a corner in the competition and were heading in a positive direction.
All three judges deemed Black Anchor and Artistic Skin Design as competing for best tattoos of the day, though they ultimately selected Artistic Skin’s as the winner.
Nunez commended Rojas and Taylor on the intricacies in the texture of the alligator’s skin, noting it looked like “If I run my finger across it, I can feel (the alligator).”
“That’s the checkmark for the 'Ink Master' box,” Nunez told the Hesperia team.
Black Anchor was deemed not in the bottom three, and the artists from Thicker Than Blood of White Plains, New York were sent packing as they were eliminated completely from the competition.
Watch as Black Anchor attempts to keep their competition strength alive and growing as "Ink Masters: Shop Wars" continues at 10 p.m. Tuesday on Spike TV.