Photo by Harper Smith/Oxygen Media
Oxygen’s about to launch a new show which makes all the other design competition show seem, frankly, a little bit wimpy. After all if you don’t like a Project Runway dress you can take it off. But the so-called skins who have signed up to be the subjects during a challenge on the tattoo show Best Ink will be permanently marked.
In a recent conference call interview, professional tattoo artist and series judge Joe Capobianco addressed some criticism the show has come under. “People have looked down on it and said, 'Well you guys are tattooing people. You’re doing free tattoos. You’re marking these people for the rest of their lives. What about that person?'
But he was pleased to report that even the skins who were inked by the losing competitors walked away happy. Joe acknowledged, “That’s a testament to the tattooer. That’s to show how talented these individuals are, that they’re doing tattoos that these people are taking a huge chance on these individuals just on the word that we say that they’re the tops. So for these individual skins to walk away and love every tattoo that comes out there, is a testament to the artists that are on the show.”
Of course, being a seasoned pro, Joe’s there to critique each tat and tell the artist what they could have done differently. He conceded that the artists can be easily offended by his technical inspections. But he insists that he’s trying to educate them for future projects.
But Joe insisted that his comments come from a very supportive place. “My hope is that the individuals watching the show and other clients will look at this and go, 'Oh, that’s why that makes that a bad tattoo. That’s why that tattoo may not age well in the future. That’s why I should maybe avoid doing something like this because of that.'
Still Joe admitted that ultimately a good tattoo is a matter of taste, “It comes down to opinions, of course, but the fact is I try to keep a very open mind when I am judging these individuals. And even though some of the things I say can be quite harsh, I’d like to think that people walk away and maybe learn a little something about the tattoos that they’ve already gotten or that they may consider getting in the future.”
After all, the art of inking isn’t a walk in the park. Even with 20 years of experience under his belt, Joe confessed that it’s a tricky business. “One of the things that the people need to be made aware of with this is as a tattooer… every day is a challenge and you’re trying to make all these individuals’ dreams come true. The fact is it’s hard. It’s really, really, really difficult and it’s a testament that everybody does walk away with a tattoo that they absolutely love.”