The Truth About Chris Núñez And Kyle Dunbar's Feud On Ink Master

Popular reality TV show "Ink Master" followed top tattoo artists from across the United States as they competed to hone their artistry and prove they're the best at what they do (via IMDb). The show had plenty of conflicts along the way, including drama between two artists, "Ink Master" judge Chris Núñez (above) and contestant Kyle Dunbar.

Núñez is known for his decades-long career as a tattoo artist and a judge on the reality shows "Miami Ink" and "Ink Master," according to IMDb. In 2012, he joined "Ink Master," where he evaluated the skills of a group of tattoo artists as they competed to win $100,000 and the coveted "Ink Master" title. He starred in episodes for eight years, and for part of that time, clashed with tattoo artist Kyle Dunbar, who was featured in episodes from 2013-2016 (via IMDb). 

After his time on "Ink Master," Dunbar now continues work as a tattoo artist, and plans to attend tattoo conventions throughout U.S. cities in 2022, according to his website Ink by Kyle Dunbar. And Chris Núñez created an app during the COVID-19 quarantine, and in an interview with Nicki Swift, said he will soon be returning to TV as the executive producer of "Tattoo Re-do."

Fighting with his canvases

As Screen Rant reports, Dunbar (above) was portrayed to be the show's villain in the third and fourth seasons. He frequently got angry not only at Núñez, but at other judges and contestants.  

In one notorious episode, Dunbar has an explosive exchange with a repeat canvas (as the person receiving the tattoo is referred to on the show.) Per YouTube, the canvas, Dan, mentioned in an interview that he was a bit particular about getting what he wanted, since it's a permanent work of art. While he didn't regret the tattoo, calling it "phenomenal," he said that Dunbar was "busting my b**** about the whole concept to begin with." He went on to say that the minute details the two had butted heads over had ended up turning gray and fading (via YouTube.) And Dan was generally unhappy about his time spent with Dunbar, saying, "The attitude, the cockiness, the arrogance, and like he just wouldn't work with me on it." 

He added, "He's already proven a hundred times that he's got a short fuse, let's see if he's changed." Dan's predictions proved to be right. Dunbar almost immediately began yelling at Dan, calling him a "cheap motherf*****," and blaming him for a $100,000 loss because the tattoo didn't fit the challenge. 

'Animosity and anger'

According to M Live, Dunbar expressed frustration about the way that Núñez wanted to teach him. In an episode of "Ink Master" that aired in March 2014, Dunbar said, "If you train your dog by scolding every time it does something wrong, it cowers from you for some time. Eventually, if you beat it a bit, it strikes at you."

However, Chris Núñez kept a close eye on Dunbar during his tattooing sessions, but their interactions ended in a feud. Per M Live, in a previous episode, Núñez believed that his criticisms helped Dunbar become a better tattoo artist. He said, "Kyle works off of animosity and anger. If I want to see him do good, I have to stay on him." Dunbar had a suggestion for Núñez, saying, "Try positive reinforcement: If the dog doesn't pee in the house, you give it a treat. It's amazing how quick a dog can be trained, but people don't take the time to do it."

An explosive final showdown

As Screen Rant reported, Núñez and Dunbar argued frequently on the show, but at one point, things even turned physical. In an episode in season four, the judges began to introduce the segment, but Dunbar interrupted, saying to Núñez, "You gonna call me out?" (via YouTube). 

When Núñez asked what was wrong, Dunbar says, "You call me insane, yeah I'm f***ing insane, you want to push me to a level of insanity, f*** yeah you'll get that!" Núñez was clearly confused, because he hadn't called anyone insane. Dunbar grew angrier and angrier, until he finally said, "You're gonna stand up there at some kind of level of judgment? I'd tattoo circles around you." Núñez replied, "Dude, you're awful" (via YouTube). After throwing expletives back and forth, Dunbar walked up to Núñez and shoved him, with the other contestants trying to hold him back. They agreed to go outside — Dunbar wanted to fight, but Núñez attempted to diffuse the situation, saying, "I know you want to fight, but we're not going to fight."

It was too late for the tattoo contestant to salvage his spot on the show after attacking a judge. The judges decided they couldn't condone violence on the show, and sent Dunbar packing. As M Live reports, contestant Scott Marshall said, "This is what the weaker artists do when they're at the end of their road. They crack."