For Andrea Laws, landing a spot on the cover of an international magazine would mean more than just a chance to showcase her art.

“I’d love to show that we are capable of being an interesting influence toward America’s greater culture,” Laws said. “That is something I’d love to be able to express if I won this competition — Kansas is more than flyover country.”

Laws, an Ottawa native currently residing in Lawrence, learned earlier this year she had been selected for a competition to determine the next cover girl for Inked magazine, a lifestyle magazine covering tattoo culture. The competition winner will be awarded a photo session with celebrity photographer Christopher Kolk and a $25,000 prize.

“I was quite surprised,” Laws said. “I entered the contest for 2019 and never heard back. A year went by, and then I got the text and an email. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Now in the running for the competition, Laws is counting on her roots to help her win. Online voting begins Tuesday, and supporters can vote for Laws on her profile at inkedmag.com.

“What I love about this competition is that it isn't just for models, it's for women who believe in themselves and have tattoos to show it off,” Laws said. “I am in no way, shape or form a model, but I do want the image of women to change in this culture — to know beauty comes for anywhere and from anyone.

“I applaud Inked magazine for giving me the opportunity to possibly share this vision and be a role model for not only women, but for people who have always dreamed of something that was way out of their comfort zone and gone for it anyways.”

 

Life and ink

Laws holds degrees in English and film studies from her time at the University of Kansas, which also saw her first foray into the world of tattoos.

“I got my first tattoo in 2007. I was a junior in college at the time,” she said. “I thought they were cool and artistic, and a really interesting way to have a piece of clothing that was with you at all times, that meant something to you.

“So, I wanted my first tattoo to be something that would stick with me forever, and I knew would never change. That was my family.”

One nearly four-hour tattoo session later, Laws was proudly supporting a meticulously illustrated rendition of her family crest, originating in Wales.

“Then the addiction started,” Laws said, laughing. “I have been tattooed since 2007 by three artists in the Lawrence area at Big Daddy Cadillac’s and Skin Illustrations. I’m excited to show off their work in this competition.”

Laws has worked in various fields since college, eventually landing her dream job in publishing at the University Press of Kansas. Over the years she has also accumulated a growing collection of ink, ranging from the poetry of Jim Morrison to a portrait of Mary Shelley, all commissioned with an eye toward weaving a tapestry of her life experience.

“I contemplate things that I want to always remember about what happened in my life, and what I’ve learned in my life,” she said. “I can't tell you how many times people will stop me on the street, so they can get a closer look at my ink. All of my tattoos are sacred to me and represent my personality of being a writer, lover of music, and a believer of comedy and art.”