If you watched Season 8 of Spike TV's Ink Master, you probably thought Christian Buckingham was one of the best artists on the show. He made it to the live finale of the final three and actually did the best final tattoo. Somehow he lost. In my opinion, the Ink Master $100,000 prize was "stolen" from Christian.
Dan Lorenzo: Did you call the police?
Christian Buckingham: Did I call the police?
Why would I call the police?
Because you were robbed, dude!
Oh. [laughs] You know, it is what it is man.
Oh come on!
I tell people I lost "the game". I didn't lose because I had the worst tattoo. I lost the game aspect of it. That's fair and square shit.
Sounds like you have things in perspective. I don't know if I'd be saying that if I just lost $100,000.
Well obviously it's a tough pill to swallow. There's no doubt about it, especially having Ollie [Ink Master judge Oliver Peck] saying he thought I had the win. If you watched all season long, I told people right and left, "It's more than just about tattoos." It's like [the TV show] Survivor. There's a whole game aspect to it and if you watch Survivor - which was the show they equated it to, in the end, the jury just picks the winner so it has a lot to do with popularity and how you deal with the other people. I'm not going to say that I'm not bummed; of course I am, but I can honestly say that I just lost on that aspect of it. I pissed off a lot of people in the house. In a way, that kind of makes me happy. I think a lot of them look like dip-shits through that whole thing. Honestly in a lot of ways, it kind of worked out for me. I think public perception kind of flip-flopped overnight. I was insanely unpopular the night before the finale and then right afterwards, the whole world was like, "Dude, you got fucked." They were much more positive. I lost out on a check.
What have you and [Ink Master winner] Anthony talked about since that night?
We talk fairly frequently. I talked with him just a couple of days ago. We're going to do some collaborative work in Tucson. A lot of people want to get tattooed by both of us. Anthony is a little... overwhelmed at this point I think, which I can only imagine. We talk about how to deal with things. I'm a little better socially sometimes with people. He's pretty shy.
I consider myself pretty social and I really liked your persona after the first few episodes, but towards the last few episodes I thought you were getting cranky. Were you affected a lot by being locked in to a building in Newark for so long?
Yeah, you do get cranky. Everybody does. And if you watched the last episode and you looked at Cleen, the guy was so tired he was barely coherent. He hadn't slept in two or three days. I don't think people realize how hard we worked. For me, toward the end it was getting rough. I had a lot of personal stuff with Sausage and the drama is more real than people realize sometimes. Me and Jessy Smith had a rough time. We went back and forth a lot. It was a very intense season.
You and Cleen both have shops in Las Vegas. I spoke with him last week and he told me you two are cool with each other. Is that true?
Oh yeah. I love Cleen. I have nothing but respect for Cleen. Cleen's the real deal. Just a super fun guy.
I forget if it was Cleen or somebody else who told me you and St. Marq had words after the finale.
Yeah, fuck him. St. Marq came up to me about two hours before the finale began and we had a conversation where he told me that he would probably be voting for Cleen regardless, because he was going to vote for whatever was the most controversial so that he could get his air time. I said, "Good Lord, really dude? Aren't you going to vote for the best tattoo?" and he said, "Well, you know it's not real anyway." I said, "It's not real to you because you lost, but it's pretty real to me right now." It really bothered me because I had a lot of people during the season say to me, "Is St. Marq really a dick?" and I'd say, "No. He's a good guy." I think I really went out of the way to defend him to people and then he said, "I'm going to vote for whatever's the most controversial" and "I need my air time" so I thought, Fuck you, you piece of shit. When he asked me to take a picture after the final episode, I told him to suck a dick and I would never take a picture with him again because he's a little camera whore and what he wants more than anything is just that - "camera time". So I denied him that. I said, "You helped screw me out of one hundred grand so there's no pictures."
What kind of ink do you use?
I use Eternal pigments.
What about machines?
I'll use Quartermaster Irons or Bloodhound Irons.
What's next for you?
I'm getting back to my life, man. I did Ink Master because it was a fun life experience. It was something to do. My wife and I are just a couple of gypsies that like to do shit. My partner Vic Vivid and I just opened Basilica.
Check out @ChristianBuckingham to see more of his work.