Season 5 of “Ink Master” introduced 18 tattoo artists who thought they were good enough to fight it out for the title of “Ink Master” and the $100,000 grand prize. Now after episode 14, the Spike reality show is down to the final four contestants – Cleen Rock One, Erik Siuda, Jason Clay Dunn and Mark Longenecker.
Jason swept his competitors in episode 14, gaining praise from all the judges for his grim reaper tattoo. To little surprise, Mark and Cris Element were at risk of getting eliminated after their grim reaper designs. Mark’s design was compared to a condom, and guest judge Mike Rubendall accused him of not being passionate about his work. Meanwhile, fellow guest judges Rose Hardy and Nikko Hurtado criticized Cris over his coloring and shading, and the fact that his grim reaper looked more like the Virgin Mary than anything scary.
After getting ripped apart by the judges, the pair each had one more chance to fight to stay in the competition. Jason created a design – a chrysanthemum – that Mark and Cris had to tattoo head-to-head. It was a difficult piece with lots of lines, and in the end Mark managed to pull through in the eyes of the judges. Cris Element was sent packing, forced to close up his shop on “Ink Master.”
The rivals are all gone on Season 5, but the artists are forming new rivalries with the competition down to the final four. So, who’s left in the running? Meet the top four contestants and our predictions for episode 15:
Cleen Rock One
Cleen Rock One has been a frontrunner in the competition since week 1 of Season 5. Currently a shop owner and artist at Chrome Gypsy Tattoo in Las Vegas, Cleen has 19 years of experience in the field, specializing in neo-traditional and new school.
The “Ink Master” cast member came into the competition with his rival, Tim Lees. But Tim (responsible for the hula girl tattoo) didn’t make it far. Now Cleen has struck up rivalries with the remaining competitors, repeatedly calling out Mark, Jason and Cris for not completing work up to the high standards of the Spike show.
Cleen is by far the safest in the competition, creating work that is not only visually pleasing, but also clean when it comes to placement, lines and shading. But that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in for the finale. Last week the judges criticized the texture and coloring on his grim reaper tattoo. Guest judge Rose Hardy also pointed out that he didn’t take his human canvas into consideration when creating the design, stating that the piece wasn’t appropriate for the woman he put it on.
This may just be one speed bump in the road for Cleen, but as Josh Hibbard proved in episode 11, a technicality can get a talented artist eliminated.
Erik Siuda is another frontrunner on “Ink Master” with 18 years of experience tattooing. Hailing from Brooklyn, the cast member is the owner and artist at Ghost Gallery Tattoo. With a focus on pseudo-traditional, new school, realism and Japanese styles, Erik has managed to come out as one of the top dogs throughout the flash challenges and elimination tattoos.
Erik only recently lost his rival, Don Peddicord. But that doesn’t mean he’s done fighting. He’s made it clear that he wants to be competing against the best of the best.
Like Cleen, Erik dropped the ball on the grim reaper tattoo. While it wasn’t offensively bad like some tattoos at the beginning of the season (let’s reminisce about Tim’s hula girl tattoo again), it disappointed the judges. Despite that hiccup, odds are high that Erik will be entering the “Ink Master” Season 5 finale.
From Cocoa Beach, Florida, Mark Longenecker is the owner and artist at Endless Summer. With 20 years experience as a tattoo artist, Mark specializes in vibrant colors and works on styles like tropical and Japanese.
The competitor has dodged quite a few bullets since the start of Season 5. At the bottom during the first couple of eliminations, Mark’s reputation as an artist helped keep him in the game. While he has stepped it up in recent weeks, even winning the Monster headphones flash challenge with Cleen, Mark found himself in the bottom again alongside Cris in episode 14.
As mentioned above, guest judge Mike Rubendall criticized Mark for not putting any heart or effort into his grim reaper design. Mark took Mike’s criticism as fighting words and vowed to prove his dedication and passion for tattooing … but will he make it past episode 15? His reputation in the field can only get him so far.
Jason Clay Dunn
Returning from Season 3 of “Ink Master,” Jason Clay Dunn entered Season 5 as a rival of fellow Season 3 competitor Josh Hibbard. An artist and owner at Tattoo Alchemy in Montclair, California, Jason has 20 years experience tattooing. Specializing in neo-Asian style, Jason has proved himself a force to be reckoned with … despite his anxiety issues.
He may have struggled with the placement of his designs, but the judges were impressed with his creativity and execution of the grim reaper in episode 14. It’ll be up to Jason to keep up the winning streak in order to box out one of the other artists to make it to the finale.
Who do you think will get eliminated in episode 15? Tweet your thoughts to @AmandaTVScoop and take the poll: