Categories 2016 videos

Black Leather – Prayers feat Kat von D

Categories 2016 interviews

Kat von D by Into The Gloss

“My nighttime look is exactly like my daytime look—like I’m going to a super fancy funeral. I guess it would be considered extreme to most people, but I like it that way. The idea of conventional beauty isn’t attractive to me…that’s why, when I was growing up, I felt kind of torn about makeup. But I’ve always listened to punk rock, and for punks, eyeliner isn’t used to accentuate your eyes—it’s a tool of self-expression. I see my makeup in that way. I enjoy wearing it and I enjoy not wearing it. Do I prefer to have eyebrows when I go out? Sure. But I don’t care either way.

I have my go-to products. It’s hard not to come off very self-promoting, but the truth is, I don’t make any product that I don’t personally wear. In terms of things I can’t live without, my Lock-It Foundation and my Featherweight Primer set the groundwork for my makeup. The foundation is full-coverage, which I think people find intimidating, but it’s really lightweight. As far as concealer goes, that is another comfortable formula—Lock-It Concealer. It has the power to cover tattoos.

For me, a simple eye works best. I like using my Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette, which I use for everything. It has three different quads—no pop colors, just warm and cool browns and neutrals. And my Tattoo Eyeliner is my favorite. I use it in my eyebrows, too—if I’ve overtweezed, I can just draw little fine lines and fill them in. I’ve been so tempted to shave my eyebrows off and start all over again, but I’m not gonna do it. I’m continuing to arch them in different ways but it’s becoming a blur as to where my real eyebrows are. [Laughs]

If I want to do a smoky eye, I tend to focus more on the eyeshadow versus the eyeliner to avoid looking like a Duran Duran album cover. And if I do a smoky eye, I’ll probably do a nude lipstick. I tend to fluctuate between reds and nudes. Right now I’m wearing two colors at once, Lolita and Lolita II, like a really subtle ombré. For reds, lately I’ve been addicted to Santa Sangre. I put it on and was like, ‘Where have you been all of my life?’ It’s not as blue as Outlaw, and it just looks so good. I think anyone who’s a fan of red lipstick understands even the slightest differences in shades of red.

I get a little concerned about tattooing makeup sometimes. I’ve been tattooing professionally since I was 16, and I’m 34 now. But for some people, it takes two weeks to get their cosmetic tattooing license, which does not sound right for the person who is putting a needle and permanent pigment close to your eye. It’s a big risk. And makeup changes! It’s ever-changing and seasonal, that’s what’s so cool and awesome about it. I look at the way I did my eyebrows back in the day and I’m like, ‘Thank God I didn’t get tattooed then, because I was full on Divine.’ [Laughs] There are some people who love it, and they don’t have to worry about [applying it]. I think if it makes you happy, fuck it, do it. People look at me and ask why I would get tattoos, period. Well, they make me happy, so it works for me.

It’s the same with skincare—you can buy all of the world’s fanciest creams and go get plastic surgery, or whatever floats your boat. But the best skincare to me is internal. Cutting out dairy alone was the best thing I ever did for my skin. I noticed an even more drastic change after I cut dairy out than when I quit smoking! No breakouts, and there was this vibrancy I got. But my favorite skincare product right now that I’m obsessed with is this Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub. I bought it in bulk. I look noticeably clean, it’s great, I love it. The other thing I use to clean are my Unlock-It Makeup Remover Wipes, which are the best for breaking down longwear makeup. And they’re biodegradable, which is great, because I go through makeup wipes like crazy.

We’re in the middle of relaunching our fragrances, so while I wait, I’m wearing Comme des Garçons Wonderwood. I tend to be attracted to darker scents. I’m not a floral girl. But I do like this old fragrance I used to wear called Versace Red Jeans. I have an eBay alert that tells me when it comes back! I think it’s more of a nostalgic association that I have with it because a boyfriend had bought it for me when I was like 16. Now, it just reminds me of falling in love.”

—as told to ITG

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Photography > Tom Newton in New York 2016

Categories 2015 interviews news

Kat Von D Explains the Remodled High Voltage Tattoo

Kat and her bros (crew) at High Voltage

Arguably the most famous tattoo shop in L.A. is open again for the first time in over a year, and it’s more representative of its leading lady than ever before.

Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo is open for business in its old space once again after being damaged by an electrical fire last October, but this time the ink-slinging celebrity has turned the set of L.A. Inkinto her own personal tattoo wonderland.

“Most of the stuff on the walls is from my own personal collections,” Von D says. “I’ve been collecting skateboards for a really long time, and I feel like there’s a direct correlation between skateboard art, music and tattoo art. A lot of the boards we have were gifted to the shop from skateboarders we’ve tattooed, and the guitars are the same thing. It seems like an understatement to say it’s a dream come true, but it’s pretty cool to be able to tattoo the musicians you’ve looked up to all your life.”

From the merch area back to the bathroom, everything fits the theme at the new High Voltage.

The first thing that greets visitors is a giant chandelier composed of dozens of small glass figures of crucified Jesus. Aside from being a statement piece, it’s also one of the items with the biggest backstory.

“The Jesus chandelier, I went through Hell to get that thing,” Von D says. “There was this glass sculptor in New Orleans, so when I first saw it 10 years ago, I contacted him to see if I could get it. He shipped it, and a lot of the 66 red glass Jesuses showed up broken. He was going to make me some new Jesuses, but then Hurricane Katrina happened and it totally killed his studio. It was totally an ordeal to get it all together, so some of those Jesuses we’ve hand-glued together.”

How many places (not tattoo shops, just anywhere) do you know of with a red glass Jesus chandelier?

Von D isn’t done putting the finishing touches on her remodeled shop just yet, but she already believes the 8-year-old shop is “a million times better than it was before.” The shop now boasts a classic Victorian theme, which is very similar to the famous tattooer’s home.

“It was a really amazing process, and it was healing in a lot of ways,” Von D says. “We had this great opportunity to rebuild it, redesign it, and make it better than what it was to begin with.”

Gallery-quality paintings from the shop’s artists hang in gold frames on the red walls where another shop might have sheets of tattoo flash. Dark wood and thick molding give the entire interior a palatial feel, furthered yet by the throne-like chair toward the back of the room. Much like Von D’s success, the decor is a lot to take in, but the daughter of two Seventh-day Adventist Church missionaries is appreciative for every bit of it.

“I was born in Mexico, and when I say we were dirt poor, I mean our floors were literally made out of dirt,” Von D says. “It’s important to stay humble and remember where you came from. My name is not ‘Kat Von D,’ that’s an abbreviation for my real name (Katherine von Drachenberg). I identify more with my truer self than I do with the TV personality, but I’m appreciative of the platform it gave me to do all of these awesome things.”

A queen needs her throne.

The remodel is appropriate in another way, as the rest of the artists at High Voltage aren’t the ones who many unknowing tourists expected to see in the old shop. While Dan Smith (who now owns Captured Tattoo in Tustin) is one of Von D’s only remaining friends from the TV show, her current crew is comprised solely of tattooers she personally admires.

“I love my tattoo family, they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Von D says. “I made sure to hire people who were better than me, because I think being the big fish in a little water is really counterproductive as an artist for growing. Every day I’m pinching myself like, ‘Holy shit, I’m tattooing next to someone who I’m their biggest fan.’ It’s intimidating, but in a good way.”

Royal colors? Check. Gold frames? Check. Giant molding? Check.

Despite the different look and different staff inside of the shop, plenty of tourists and locals alike still stop by the WeHo landmark to see the set of their favorite TLC show. Considering that (as Von D stresses) High Voltage is still a top-notch tattoo shop first and foremost, one might think the visitors would bug her — but that’s not the case.

“We have tour buses that come by the shop on a schedule, which I think is neat,” Von D says. “I know a lot of other shops would probably talk shit or think they’re a joke to a certain degree, but I feel like it’s the opposite for me. If people want to come by, buy a shirt and take pictures, that’s awesome. I celebrate my shop and put pictures and post shit on Instagram all the time because my shop’s badass.”

High Voltage Tattoo is far different from what the film crews saw.

Ultimately, Von D splits her time between tattooing and her many other endeavors, from furthering her makeup line to writing music to keeping up her huge social media presence. She doesn’t plan on becoming one-dimensional anytime soon, and she’ll never be one to rest on her laurels.

“A lot of people define themselves by what’s in their portfolio or who they’ve tattooed, but I’ve stopped caring about that shit a long time ago,” Von D says. “I just want to become the best tattooer I can possibly physically be.”