A Regina woman wants to be on the cover of Inked Magazine. The single mother, who is competing for votes in a contest that celebrates the art of tattooing, turned to her daughter for inspiration.
Shay Prokop has 60 tattoos on her body, but her favourites were not designed by professional artists. Instead she uses drawings from her loved ones, like illustrations that originally came on birthday and Christmas cards. Most importantly, Prokop gets her 12-year-old daughter Ciara's drawings tattooed on her body.
"My daughter has drawn my tattoos, my friends have drawn tattoos, and I just love it.… just lots and lots of meaning behind them," Prokop said.
It didn't start out that way. The 35-year-old got her first tattoo when she was 19.
"I got an arm band, but I was scared to go all the way around my arm, cause they made it sound very very painful. So I have a half arm band with flowers on it," said Prokop.
She got used to the tattooing needle and that half arm band would get many neighbours over the years.
Over time, Prokop wanted her tattoos to have more meaning.
Her boyfriend has drawn tattoos to honour her love of baking and gardening.
Prokop also uses body art to reflect her experience with endometriosis, a hidden but painful gynecological disease. For example, when she had a hysterectomy three years ago, she got a tattoo of a stuffed animal she received in hospital.
"Getting that, it was a way to wear the disease and show awareness for it," Prokop said.
Now Prokop is one of thousands of women vying for votes to become the next cover model for Inked Magazine. The winner gets a spot on the cover, a tattoo from famous American tattoo artist Ryan Ashley and a $25,000 cash reward.
Prokop is part of a Facebook group where many of the women competing in the Inked Magazine competition connect with each other.
"It's a lot of beautiful women that I'm competing against, a lot of beautiful tattoos. But in that group we're all very friendly and compliment each other and it's more like a little family," she said. "We're not trying to fight against each other to win. We just want everyone to be happy competing."
Prokop said she hopes her unique style will stand out in the competition.
"I try to show the natural beauty and I show people that they don't have to be that, you know, skinny supermodel with all the caked on makeup," she said. "You're beautiful just the way you are."
Prokop admits she sometimes worries her daughter will be embarrassed by all her tattoos. But Ciara said that is not the case.
"I'm going to be 13 this month and I can already tell that I'm not going to be [embarrassed]. Because I really love my mom and she deserves my art on her body," said Ciara.
Prokop said she believes the cover girl contest is a way to celebrate art and to challenge traditional definitions of beauty. She said that if she wins the money, she will use it to buy a house and — of course — get more tattoos.