“Ink Master” judge Oliver Peck doesn’t hold back when critiquing the contestants on the Spike reality series.
Season 8 has been the most intense yet, pitting artists against each other with the “Peck vs. Núñez” twist. Eighteen tattoo artists started off the season, and week-by-week judges Dave Navarro, Oliver Peck and Chris Núñez have been whittling down the contestants until only the top five remain on each team. It’s been a tough competition, with strong players on each team. However, fans have noticed that a few artists haven’t been able to stack up against the others. One in particular this season is Tuff Tito, who found himself in the bottom for two elimination tattoos before being sent home.
“I personally wanted Tito to go home a lot sooner,” Peck confessed to International Business Times. “But Tito and Chris are friends, so that might have played a little bit in there. Chris also knew Tito more than I did, so I think Chris kind of had this hope that Tito was going to do what Chris thought he could do.”
Tuff Tito was one of the contestants this season with the most experience, having been a tattoo artist for 22 years. While his portfolio features beautiful work, he couldn’t handle the “Ink Master” competition. Stress, time and human canvases all play a factor in making it to the end.
“If you don’t know anything about an artist before they come on the show then you don’t know what they can do, so when they do something terrible you’re just like, oh they’re terrible,” Peck continued. “Or if they do something bad you don’t know if they can do better or not. But when you know somebody previously and you’re familiar with their work before the show you kind of expect them to do what you know they can do.”
Peck revealed that they don’t know who is on the season until they start filming episode 1. And surprisingly, the reveal of the artists makes the judges “anxious.”
“When somebody walks out that we know it’s always a little bit scary because you don’t want to have to sit there and be super tough on people that you know,” he added. “It’s tricky, but I had some really good friends on there that I had to tell them they suck.”
But it’s not that they’re bad artists. As Peck explained, it’s that they just can’t hand the “stress of the competition and the time.”
“It really just gets to people and some people don’t really ever get to operate at their normal output.”
Tito’s not the only one who the judges were expecting high quality work from this season. They were also familiar with Eric Gonzalez, who has 18 years of tattoo experience under his belt.
“He had a really rough start and we were just expecting to see what we know he can do,” he said.
Fortunately Eric appeared to turn things around. He was one of the top artists in episode 7, and is immune for elimination this week heading into episode 8.
While Peck might be tough on the contestants, he does acknowledge that the competition is grueling, and even admits that he wouldn’t submit himself to joining the cast if the tables were turned.
“I see how tough it is to live in that house,” he told IBT. “I see how demanding it is to operate on a time schedule. These guys really do get put through the wringer. Everybody says, ‘Why are they acting so crazy? Why are they so hot headed?’ It’s because this competition is tough.”
Catch Oliver Peck on “Ink Master” when Season 8 airs on Spike on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.