Miss Inked 2017: Sarah Jane Gray

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It is our absolute pleasure to congratulate Sarah on her new role as Miss Inked for 2017! This year’s top 10 were the most amazing group of people, supporting each other, encouraging others and, most importantly, showing how strong and passionate they each are about creating their own story on skin. Sarah is the perfect combination of brains, beauty and hugging! Yes, this girl is a hugger! Studying to be doctor, she’s won numerous tattoo awards and has been tattooed by some of the best artists in Australia. Here is her tattoo story…

“I first discovered my love for tattoos when I had a back piece completed as a cover-up to represent my Chinese Zodiac as Year of the Dragon by Stu Pagdin. I was involved in a fatal motor vehicle collision and the lady who passed away was also born in the year of the dragon, so for me it stemmed from there as a commemorative piece. I learnt to appreciate tattoos for their art very soon after this as we started my first sleeve before that was even finished, in the same style!

I’ve always loved the heavily tattooed look on women but never thought I could rock it myself. I see myself more as a collector now and have definitely been bitten by the tattoo bug! Currently I have two separate leg sleeves in progress; one is horror colour realism that my partner Bumer is doing for me and my other leg has more of a Neo Trad feel, which Brendan Bozwell has done the majority of so far. I’m excited about having Dan Miller add to it soon with a piece representing my favourite love – cheese. I don’t want to give away too much but ‘cheese IS life’, right?

Since I won my very first tattoo model comp in 2014, I always wanted to be published in Inked Australia/NZ magazine, being Miss Inked is the biggest tattoo model goal I could achieve. I love being able to represent tattooed women from all around our beautiful country for a number of reasons. I’ve made some of the best friends in my life through this industry and being able to travel and continually develop whilst being around like-minded people would be amazing. Most of all I love that I’ve been given the opportunity to be a positive role model for tattooed people that feel that their body art may limit their ambition. Studying in the super conservative industry of medicine and surgery and being able to compete and work as a tattoo model is, in my eyes, enable me to be such a strong advocate for the diversity within the industry. Just because I’m covered in body art or have colourful hair, doesn’t mean my skills lack in any way to my colleagues. I’d love to prove wrong those few people that think you can’t make a good doctor if you have tattoos.

I love the creative freedom you can develop in shoots. You can change your pose, hair, and outfit and become whoever you want to be for a brief moment that is then captured in time. I love the friends I have made in the industry and the networking and sponsorships I’ve been so blessed to receive. It first started when I entered the Girls of Ink at the Australian International Tattoo Expo in Adelaide in 2014. I had never been on stage and still don’t know how I found the courage to enter but I was incredibly lucky and won! Since then I’ve competed and placed in every state and have now began to judge events and take on an ambassadorship role in South Australia. Last year I was able to represent Australia in Italy, as the first ever tattooed finalist in an international beauty pageant, after winning the Miss Australia Quest and fundraising for Ovarian Cancer Awareness with my “Tattoos Cure Cancer” campaign.

In my pre-clinical years at medical school it did worry me sometimes as to how I was being perceived my by senior colleagues, however I can only recall one incident where I was told to cover them. Since I began my clinical training I can honestly say I haven’t had too many negative experiences (at least nothing said to my face). I do cover most of them with professional attire unless I’m in scrubs where I can’t however. I did have a very senior consultant apologise for judging me unduly without having worked with me prior, once he could see my skills, ambition and drive was there, but it’s disappointing that it happened to begin with. It’s the nature of the beast and I accept that not everyone has to like the way I look.

I have had MANY positives where the patients have complimented me on my art (especially the younger generation) and I’ve also had situations where patients have been open and honest with me, but not my seniors through fear of being judged or feeling intimidated. I work so hard to build rapport with patients and they always compliment me on my communication skills, slowly the world will start to accept that just because you look a little different, doesn’t make you a bad person.

It’s never been about winning for me. I’ve been incredibly humbled by the success I have achieved in such a short period of time but I have also worked very hard to get where I am today. I will spend the year lobbying for tattoos and professionalism, collecting more wonderful art, all whilst continually growing and developing as a model and being the best damn ambassador I can be.

In February 2017 I’ll be part of the 3 Eyes Convention in Adelaide. My role is to assist in organising the stage events and promotional model team for the weekend in the lead up to the event with PR etc, as well as run and guest judge their one-of-a-kind ‘Ladies of Ink’ competition. It’s going to be the first of its kind because it features three individual rounds for the top 10 finalists in the ‘Australiana, Lingerie and Nasty’ categories, each of which are open to interpretation. Inkjecta have sponsored the event with a $2000 cash prize for the winner as well as a photography package, so in total the winner takes home over $5000 worth of cash and prizes. The stakes for a tattoo model have never been greater. I’m super proud of this event, it’s going to be on the main stage on the Saturday evening which I’m hoping will bring in a great crowd of support for these ladies. It takes guts to get up there and do your thing. The judging panel is made up of industry experts so it’s going to be a great show!

Adelaide seems to miss out of the majority of the legs that the other Australian Tattoo Expos offer but the tattoo community is strong and some of Australia’s best artists are based there. I’m looking forward to being able to show what Adelaide has to offer from an expo side of things as the event is being run as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, so it’s the time to be in town! Without giving too much away 3 Eyes Convention is going to be epic. We are bringing in over 250 of the best artists from around Australia and overseas. And the stakes are high too with over $40k worth of prize money on offer from Inkjecta likely toe ensure some amazing quality work will be produced. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting plenty of new faces because that’s what the tattoo community is about; we’re all like one big family really!

Finally I want to thank Inkjecta for taking me on as the face of their business last year. It has given me many opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I also want to thank Dr Pickles for being my first sponsor and believing in me when I was a new kid on the block. Also to all my other current sponsors, Swerve Hair & Trimmer the Hairdresser and Nightmare Nails and, of course, to Inked Aus/NZ magazine for the opportunity to even be considered against such amazingly beautiful ladies.”