Miss Inked Australia winner Sarah Gray helps break taboos as a judge of the Ladies Of Ink Contest at the Three Eyes Tattoo Convention, the largest tattoo convention in the Southern Hemisphere.
Tattooed people have long been characterised as dangerous. However, tattoo model Sarah Gray finds this profiling unfair. Recently crowned as Miss Inked Australia, the only danger Sarah poses is by breaking these stereotypes in a variety of ways – giving tattooed people a new skin to be judged by.
Sarah will be using her experiences and eye for quality tattoos to judge the Ladies Of Ink Contest at the Three Eyes Tattoo Convention.
Image © Wayne Jones, Hair and Makeup: Jessica Franklin
Sarah’s tattoos began recklessly at a young age. “I was 15 when I got my first tattoo; it definitely wasn’t a thought-out process like they are today,” she admits. “It was one of those spontaneous decisions you make when you’re young and silly – you don’t really think about the consequences when you do them. Now I’m what you’d consider a collector; I pursue an artist for their specific style and get them to do a piece for me.”
After tragedy struck Sarah’s life, she pursued tattoos as catharsis. Tattoos quickly became a bigger part of her life, going to the point where she describes herself as an “art collector, but instead of it hanging on the wall, I wear it on my skin. That’s the biggest message I’m trying to send.”
It was 2014 when Sarah’s career as a model took off. She was tipped off by an artist tattooing her that there was a tattoo modelling competition taking place. She entered on a whim, won the event, and began entering more.
In 2015, Sarah won the Miss Australia Quest contest. Her win gave her the opportunity to compete in Italy as the first tattooed contestant in the Miss Progress International Quest, where an exception was made by the usually conservative contest thanks to the impression left by her project on Indigenous children in Australia.
Image © Angelo Beltran, Hair: Erin Trimmer, Makeup: Kimberly Elise Artistry
Now, she will be returning for Adelaide’s Three Eyes Tattoo Convention as not just the face of the revolutionary InkJecta tattoo machine, but also as the newly crowned Miss Inked Australia.
Alongside being Miss Inked Australia, Sarah will also be going into a busy fifth year of studying a medicine degree. She points out that the medical field is “ultra-conservative” about appearances, but she is dedicated to her studies to the point of studying while in the tattooing chair.
“I’ll take my laptop and some typed notes with me, sit there and study, sometimes joke around with the artist.”
One of Sarah’s duties as Miss Inked Australia is judging the Ladies Of Ink Contest.
Image © Wayne Jones, Hair and Makeup: Tara Alfrey
Judging the contest excites Sarah as it allows her to spread her message of acceptance of tattooed people.
“The biggest thing with this convention we’re trying to push is that tattoos are now more a wearable art. People have a preconceived notion of you just because you have tattoos, and it’s just not that anymore. Professional and older people have tattoos now. It’s more of a lifestyle now than a rebellion act. The public are learning it’s an art-form.”