On season 2, Sarah Miller joined the cast of Ink Master and won audiences over with her tenacity, wit, and above all else, talent. During her original season, she blew the judges away with her impressive realism abilities and narrowly missed out on the grand prize. However, when it comes to recognition and respect in the industry, Miller is one of the most successful contestants to grace the competition. She made a brief return to the series back in season seven, but now, she's come back to the franchise as a coach alongside Bubba Irwin. We had the chance to sit down with Miller to learn about why she came back to the show, what she learned from being a coach, and what she'd like to see from future seasons of the series.
What’s changed for you between season seven and now?
I’ve had many opportunities to travel overseas, I’ve been to every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. I’ve gotten to see a lot of the world and the different types of tattoos in each area. I feel very lucky for that.
How were you approached about coming back for season 12?
A producer reached out to me and asked if I was interested in coming on again. And, of course, I love working with Paramount and anything that they would want to do is fantastic.
What were your initial thoughts on the theme of the season?
I thought it was really interesting because of the dynamic between men and women, but also tattoo artists and our stubbornness. Coming back as a coach put everything in a very interesting light and there are going to be a lot of cool things happening this season.
How do you think that the treatment of women in the industry has changed since you started your career?
I think there’s been a shift, more so in the talent we see. People aren’t necessarily looking at someone and whether they’re a guy or a girl, but the level of their work and their ability to execute what they’re doing. That’s been my experience, especially from the public. People aren’t saying “Oh you’re good for a girl,” they’re instead saying “You’re a badass tattoo artist.” The industry is shifting a little more slowly, but huge strides have been made.
What are the major differences between male and female tattoo artists?
When I grew up, I was more of a tomboy, so I never quite understood the girly girl thing. I think I fit in a little bit differently than a lot of the women who’re getting into the industry, but I think overall, girls are a bit more open to learning or asking for advice, listening, and applying it. I feel that if you have drive, ambition, and talent as a woman, if someone sits down and shows you something, you learn a little bit faster. I’ve noticed guys are a little more do it yourself; they do trial and error. They’ll ask for advice and then, as you’re answering, they’ll answer their own question. That’s not typical across the board for everybody. There’s such a broad sampling of different personalities, learning abilities, and talents in this industry, and it’s very interesting to see where people fit in.
What advice did you give to the contestants this season?
When I was competing, I lost sight of why I got into tattooing in the first place. I loved tattooing, it was my life and every single piece that I get to do, I want to enjoy it regardless of whether it’s script, a massive portrait, or a multi-session back piece. There’s something special about every tattoo that you do. I feel like I lost sight of that a little bit when I was competing because there are so many other factors to consider. You’re worried and get focused on little things that you lose perspective of the bigger picture. The biggest thing that I hope to bring to the table was to bring a bit of fun back into it and to remember to enjoy every single project without getting caught up in the pressure.
What was the hardest part about being a coach?
The hardest part about being a coach is learning everybody on your team’s dynamic. Every single person has different body language and they learn differently. They have different backgrounds and levels of talent. And to get everyone to work together is not something that you can do right off the bat. Coming in, you have to prove yourself to get people to listen to you. But, I really enjoyed being a coach. And seeing how things played out, it’s definitely something that I would do again.
If you had the opportunity to choose the next season’s theme, what would you like to see?
I would like to see something a little bit different. Maybe, instead of every week someone being eliminated, maybe there would be teams of people who were tackling large projects. With the time limits on the show, people aren’t able to showcase some of the most spectacular things that you can do in tattooing right now. I would like to see Ink Master get some heavy hitters and extend the time limits to allow for multiple day tattoo sessions, just so audiences can see the magic that we’re able to create.