Kat Von D's Ink
Words: Robert Brink / Missbehave, April 2007
Usually we love nothing more than to gawp and nosily inquire about the inked embellishments of our favorite celebrity tattooees. This time we look to 24-year-old, Mexican-born, heavy metal and Beethoven-loving, Los Angeles-residing-and-adoring star of TLC's Miami Ink, Katherine Von Drachenberg, for the other perspective. Kat's first tattoo came at age 14. Fast-forward two years to early 1996, and her first attempt at needle wielding—a Misfits skull done with homemade equipment. A decade later, Ms. Von D is on TV, tattooing all over the world, chilling in Bam Margera's Lamborghini, designing her own clothing line, marrying fellow artist Oliver Peck, appearing in H.I.M. music videos and getting ready to take it even further. But not before sharing a little bit about her divergent experiences as a tattoo artist with Missbehave …
"I had been drawing since I could hold a pencil, and when I did that first tattoo, I knew right then and there that it was my calling. I was never like, 'I wanna be in movies! Or be a model!' I mean, look at me; I thought I ruined chances like that happening when I got my face tattooed. I think tattooing is definitely still a man's world. I have always tried my hardest to not make gender an issue, [but] I feel like women in this business, for the most part, aren't as good as most of the guys. Maybe it's because there is a smaller number of them... but there are not too many women out there that I would wanna get tattooed by.
When we first started doing the show, I was worried that I would be typecast as the person you go to for a portrait when you lose someone. And at first it was kinda crazy. I had a line of people waiting to get tattooed and tell me the horrible and sad stories of their loved ones dying. Now I completely embrace it. The other day I had to tattoo a woman who had come in to get a portrait of her 18-year-old son who had shot himself in the face 10 days prior. When we were done and she looked down I ended up holding her for 10 minutes as she cried on my shoulder thanking me for giving her her son on her leg forever. That shit is the most special thing to me—helping other people heal one way or another.
[On the other hand] one time, Steve-O was in Miami while we were filming and we'd gone out, got wasted, and talked about how we never wanted to have kids. He got so amped on the idea of being free and never having kids that he was like, 'I wanna get a 'Fuck Babies' tattoo, you wanna do it?' I was down, but the next day I was busy with a client, so he had someone else do the tattoo. It didn't translate so well. He wanted a picture of a baby with a cross over it, like the no smoking sign. Somehow it evolved into a dude with his pants down actually fucking a baby. I saw a look of regret in Steve-O's eyes (which is very rare, when it comes to that guy), when we all realized he looked like a total pedophile. Later, he blacked it out himself into a big black blob [then] Bam and I transformed into an ostrich. So now he has this dude on his arm fucking an ostrich doggy-style. It's pretty fuckin' bad.
I will never stop tattooing, but I always told myself, if there was a way for me to make money elsewhere, I would not tattoo for a living, I would do it for fun... you know, just tattoo your friends whenever you want. Tattooing is crazy for me though, if I go too long without tattooing I get withdrawals.