We spoke to head judge Joe Capobianco to find out how Miami stacks up against other ink-friendly cities, what makes a winner, and what to avoid when getting inked.
Cultist: What made you get started in the tattoo biz?
Capobianco: Actually, I only had two small tattoos, and the fella that apprenticed me asked me to do it. My interest was originally as a collector, but that grew into an infatuation with a truly different art form.
I heard you guest starred on Miami Ink, so you've obviously spent some time here. What's your favorite thing about Miami?
Favorite thing 'bout Miami? Haha, not sure, I'm a Northeasterner. Maybe I ain't old enough to have a favorite thing about Miami just yet. Might have to wait for retirement.
C'mon, there must be something you dug during your time in Miami. Sunny weather? Nude beaches? D-Wade?
Well I was down there in April and the weather was pretty sweet. Had some great meals with good friends. And of course, there's always people watching.
What qualities are you looking for in the artists you're choosing for Best Ink?
Honestly, a talented, creative artist, capable of translating his, and the "Skins'" (clients'), ideas into great tattoos.
What makes a winner?
A good listener and creative artist/tattooer. In my eyes, it's the individual who's open and able to create based on what the "skin" tells them. But when it comes right down to brass tacks, it's if the artist is capable of doing a great tattoo.
What advice can you give first-time tattooees? Designs/places to avoid?
Think about what it is you want. Don't let the fear of the pain of getting tattooed decide where you put it. All tattoos hurt. There's no magical, pain-free spot to get it.
Most of all, research your tattooist. There are so many less-than-spectacular artists. Don't just go to the cheapest, or most available.
Not every tattoo needs to have some deep emotional meaning. Some of the best works out there are the ones that were created for the pure love and enjoyment of wearing the art. But even still, think about your ideas and consider the longevity of what you want.
Remember, a tattoo is for life, and should be a very important decision.
Why do you think Miami is a good spot to search for tattoo talent?
Like several places in the U.S., there's a large population of very talented tattooers in the area. I'm hoping that those individuals choose to come out and show us, and the nation, what they have to offer.