There seems to be an even bigger increase in the amount of talk about tattoos lately, and I think this may be due to the rise of tattoo related tv shows. Whether it’s the reality of how bad Tattoo Fixers is or the latest winner of Ink Master, there seems to be a lot going on. It’s a topic that comes up when we’re at the tattoo studio, either discussing the latest show to be released or the work produced on last weeks episode of a tattoo competition.
I personally enjoy tattoo tv programmes very much, and whether they are good or bad, I tend to end up watching them either way. I have chosen some of the most popular tattoo tv shows to give my thoughts on, split into the worst and the best. This way you can get some suggestions on the ones worth watching, and the ones to avoid. I’d also like to hear your opinions on these particular shows!
1. Just Tattoo Of Us
As anticipated from the title, this show is pretty terrible. If you’re interested in tattoo culture and educating yourself on the art, then this show is definitely not for you. A basic synopsis of this show is for two people to design tattoos for each other, have them done, while having no idea what they have just had permanently etched into their skin. The process is covered up and revealed with hosts Charlotte Crosby and Stephen Bear. Yep, if it couldn’t get more ridiculous, they then have Bear to host it. While they do seem to have good artists on the show, little is spoken about them and they amp the guests up to design the worst tattoos possible to ‘stitch’ the other one up. I would say a good 90% of them will later on be covered up or removed, if possible. The first few episodes also star other Geordie Shore members, which I can only assume is because not enough people applied to be on the show. They even advertised getting to meet Charlotte and Bear, as a reason to go on the show. While some of the designs are not awful, others seem like a long way to go for a practical joke. The worst part of it all I think is just how uncomfortable it makes me feel. They do that awkward laugh, trying to make light of the situation when the person with the tattoo breaks down, and it’s just not something that puts tattooing in a good light.
2. Tattoo Fixers
I’m not going to go to into it with this one because you’ve probably already heard all of the uproar caused from this show. Some how it seems to keep on going, creating bad tattoos in a warehouse to cover up even worse tattoos. At first glimpses the show is okay, but they end up tattooing about three people per episode, and fill the gaps with boring and dull backstories for the guests and their current tattoos. So much of it is clearly set up, and it’s just not a very interesting show at all. They can occasionally create some nice work, but it’s not hard to google image some of the terrible inkings they’ve given people.
3. E4’s Tattoo Artist of the Year
While this isn’t the worst of the three shows listed here, it’s basically just an E4 rip off of Ink Master. It’s less impressive and entertaining, has less critiques and actual information on tattooing and different styles with mediocre challenges. They do have guest judges that are ‘some of the best’, but it’s hard to take it seriously when they have Jay Hutton (Tattoo Fixers) as an esteemed judge throughout. Some of the contestants do have some good work, and it can be entertaining when watching and discussing it with your tattoo artist and friend in the studio, but I found watching it by myself got dull fast. I don’t think it is filmed very well at all, with most of the tattooing process just showing clips of the artists stressing out, panicking, and those slow motion shots of the ink being washed into a fresh cup of water. I did like self-taught artist Cookie’s work though.
4. LA/Miami Ink
5. Ink Master
6. Needles & Pins
I am one of those people that relish in alternative documentaries with dominantly negative/controversial topics such as drugs, prison, murder, extremism etc, and that includes tattoos also. Needles & Pins is a documentary programme following tattoo artist Grace Neutral across the world to explore the tattoo subculture in a positive light. I’m a fan of Grace Neutral and her work, so I was intrigued when I heard about this programme, and it is possibly my favourite tattoo show to date. There are 6 episodes in total, with each episode based on a particular destination; UK, Las Vegas, Japan, Los Angeles, New Zealand and Korea. Personally, I think it has been beautifully filmed, with a lot of insight and interesting topics raised around tattooing and it’s origins. I found it very educational and enjoyed the approach to the show and Grace’s interview style in particular. It is heart warming and intriguing, and increases my love and interest for the subculture.
“I’m traveling the globe to meet the artists, the rebels and the weirdos who made this niche hobby a global industry”
This film based on Korea’s Illegal Beauty Scene with Grace Neutral contains scenes used in some episodes, and so is shot and produced in the same way. So if you enjoy this, you’ll probably enjoy Needles & Pins. All episodes of N&P are available to watch on NowTV. If you still have 10 McDonalds monopoly stickers lying around you can get a free pass for a month.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed some of my insights into some tattoo tv shows. Let me know what you think of these shows, and if you have any other shows I should check out? April.