Kat Von D, Tattoo Artist

Famous for her mastery of all things ink, Kat Von D is breaking the mould of traditional beauty. After the wild success of her TV show, LA Ink, she has turned her steady and intricate hand to the beauty industry launching a makeup label at Sephora. Kat has a rebellious, artistic approach to all aspects of her life and her self-titled makeup line is no exception. The unique collection features Kat’s own designs and personal touches with products she swears by and uses on herself everyday. 

We caught up with the tattoo queen in her suite at The Four Seasons, when she was in Sydney for the opening of Sephora. When we arrived, she was strumming a song in the window seat and watching the city unfold. After showing us her epic collection of macabre jewellery and a ukelele that she was illustrating for a fan, Kat revealed the secrets behind her unique aesthetic and why she has a particularly DIY-hands-on approach to beauty and health.


“I had a pretty conservative upbringing…

I remember getting caught, just like every other girl, going through mom’s makeup. As a child, my perception of my mom was a beauty queen. She was very beautiful and she really embraced her femininity so I think that would be my first window into beauty. I started doing my own makeup when I was way too young.

I was not a rebellious kid, even though I did have a mohawk when I was fourteen and my parents didn’t like that. I think my parents always saw brilliance beneath the stuff that scared them; they knew I was a good kid. Now we look back and laugh at those times because my parents are scared about nothing, really.

I never imagined having a makeup line…
I loved makeup for a long time, so it was very surreal. There’s so much handcrafted love that goes into it. I’ve drawn everything in it, from the artwork that you see on the outside of the packaging to the components themselves. I like that; I take pride in being part of the entire creative process. Sephora is usually pretty supportive of my ideas and have faith, and the more rogue ideas are the ones that end up being hits. I definitely use my tattoo liner every single day. The component itself is amazing. Hundreds of bristles in the brush, we worked so hard on the formula itself, I’ve never met an eyeliner like it.

I have my own weird style…
I don’t want to dress like everybody else.  I’m inspired by a lot of things in the Victorian era a lot. That’s probably my biggest form of fashion inspiration. I’m usually buying things and have to alter it myself. Actually in Australia, you guys have a lot of great designers like Valley Eyewear, my favourite sunglasses. Hopeless Lingerie is from here, which I love. I collect a lot of vintage stuff. Blood Milk has always been my favourite [jewelry company]. There’s this other company called Macabre Gadgets, they’re Italian, all hand-sculpted stuff.

I’m into getting down to the grit and grime of skincare…
I truly believe when it comes to skin it’s far more important to treat it from the inside out, rather the outside. You can put all the creams you want and sure, it can help exfoliation and things like that but if you’re eating shit, you’re gonna have shitty skin. One of my favorite books is called, “Feed Your Face” by Dr. Jessica Wu, she’s a nutritionist and dermatologist from L.A. She’s my dermatologist and I very rarely get breakouts.

I do it all myself…
I loathe having to get my hair done in a salon, plus I’ve also been doing my own hair since I was a kid. I discovered this Japanese henna dye. It’s really, really cool. It’s super potent. I hate when they hire makeup artists. I feel bad, like you’re not going to do anything but sit there. Same with stylists, no need for that.  I like to collect different products that inspire me from other brands outside my own. I like to take artistic approaches to things. The cool thing about makeup is that it’s ever-changing and ever-evolving and it’s like fashion in the sense that it’s seasonal and my makeup changes depending on my mood.

I try to eat macrobiotics…
It’s the cleanest form of food. Macrobiotics here in Sydney would be different today like if I were eating macrobiotics here right now, my lunch would be different in the U.S. I’m really big into gardening now, I started learning how to grow my own vegetables and stuff. I have everything from corn to pumpkins to spinach to kale, tomatoes, four different kinds of tomatoes. I love growing things from seed, they’re like my babies.”

Interview by Sigourney; photography by Daniel Gurton; story by Ahtra Elnashar

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