One tattoo down, many to go.

Baton Rouge tattoo artist 'Money' Mike Thornton survived the first week of Paramount reality competition series "Ink Master," but another member of Team South wasn't so fortunate.

Dallas competitor Nychelle Elise was eliminated at the end of last week's premiere episode. The judges put her home state and patriotic tattoos at the bottom among the 20 contestants' work.

Dissatisfied with his first effort, Andrew Hicks (Team East) voluntarily left the competition. 

'Ink Master': Baton Rouge tattoo artist 'in the pressure cooker' for series' new season

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Thornton's Louisiana tattoo, incorporating Mardi Gras beads and a fleur-de-lis, "just squeaked by," according to judge/host Dave Navarro.

"My heart's beating as fast as hell," Thornton said of his 12th place ranking. "I'm just happy to be down here."

In the earlier blind critiques, judge Chris Nuñez described Thornton's use of four colors in the piece as strange, and added that the state's shape was lost in the tat.

This, the 13th season of "Ink Master" is subtitled "Turf War." Four teams of five tattoo artists each are representing the East, West, South and Midwest regions of the country. Up for grabs: $100,000, an editorial feature in Inked magazine and the “Ink Master” title.

The second episode, at 9 p.m. Tuesday, is titled "Clash of the Collages."  For more on the show, visit

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