Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
LA Ink and her Sephora makeup line?Kat Von D Beauty
Currently Known For:
LA Ink and Kat Von D Beauty Makeup Line
LA Ink and her Sephora makeup line?Kat Von D Beauty
“You have to nourish your creativity for it to flourish.” Challenging the norms of tattoo and artistry since she first rose to fame in 2007, Kat Von D is one of the most successful and widely recognized tattoo artists in the world who is best known for her appearances on TLC’s popular reality series, LA Ink. Thanks to her outspokenness and eclectic style from her many tattoos to her signature red lips, Kat Von D spent four seasons on the show as she built her personal brand and launched a successful cosmetics line with Sephora as well as the MusInk Tattoo Convention and Music Festival in Southern California. Most recently adding in an art gallery, boutique, clothing line, and the High Voltage Tattoo parlor, let’s take a look at the 36-year-old’s rise to fame!
Early Musings and Tattoos
“I like everything in the extreme.” Katherine von Drachenberg was born on March 8, 1982 in Montemorelos, Nuevo León, Mexico where her Argentinian parents worked as missionaries with the Seventh-day Adventist Church before moving Kat and her siblings to Los Angeles, California. Once in California, Kat’s parents enrolled her in piano lessons, a decision that would ultimately shape Kat’s life and career as she fell in love with classical pianists like Ludwig van Beethoven and later with classic heavy metal bands like Metallica. “Music has influenced everything from my tattooing to how I talk, to how I walk, I guess. I was classically trained in piano since I was six. Then in my teens, my older sister introduced me to Metallica and it was all over. I had a mohawk soon after that.”
Diving deeper into her love of music, Kat was only 14 years old when she secretly got her first tattoo. Instantly drawn to the artistry and the taboo of the tattoo industry, she dropped out of school at 16 to pursue a career as a tattoo artist. This is how she spent the majority of her time from 1998 to 2004 when the reality television craze made its way to Hollywood where Kat made her television debut in an episode of Pimp My Ride in 2004. Months later, she appeared on TLC’s Miami Ink, which showcased a Miami Beach tattoo parlor and artists like Darren Brass. When Brass injured himself and could no longer work, Kat was hired and appeared in two episodes of Miami Ink where her unique sense of style and talent could’ve easily stolen the show had it not been for her ongoing feud with fellow artist, Ami James.
LA Ink and Business Ventures
“It’s such a trip because all my life, it was, ‘Ew, the weird girl.’ Now, I think people are becoming more and more open to diversity, which is one of the reasons I did LA Ink.” Fortunately for Kat, she’d already made a lasting impression on TLC and was invited to star in her own series, LA Ink, featuring her Hollywood tattoo parlor, High Voltage Tattoo. The series premiered in August 2007 and, just three months later, Kat was a household name after she gave 400 tattoos in 24 hours to set a new Guinness World Record. By then, she was already looking to expand on her stardom and launched her makeup line with Sephora in 2008. “I never let people see me without makeup,” Kat told the LA Times shortly after the line launched. “It’s not an insecurity thing. The perk of being a girl is being able to wear makeup and dress up. It’s another artistic outlet. And the 45 minutes it takes me to get ready is very therapeutic for me. It’s hard to start my day without that. You can tell my mood by my makeup. When I’m depressed, it’s really dark. Then I’ll do super dumb happy makeup…”
Expanding her line to include fragrances, Kat has redefined beauty with new product launches over the last decade while addressing the stigma of tattoos and beauty on LA Ink until its final season in 2011. By then, Kat was ready to focus on other ventures after realizing the impact of social media on her personal brand. “I think Instagram has really changed everything, not just my brand, but also the makeup world in general,” she told Fashion Magazine. “Now there’s two different types of influencers—there’s the professional makeup artists that are working every day on photo shoots or runway or editorial stuff, and then there’s one that are creating really amazing and inspiring looks like lip art and things like that for Instagram that may not necessarily be practical for everyday wear. So, I think there’s components or elements of both types of artist that are really, truly important and vital to creativity.”
Life After LA Ink: Marriage, Motherhood, and Stardom
After wrapping up LA Ink in 2011, Kat focused on her makeup line and reintroduced all-vegan products. She also opened her own art gallery and boutique—Wonderland Gallery—next door to High Voltage Tattoo in addition to launching her clothing lines and venturing into the music business by lending her vocals to “Rosary Blue” with The 69 Eyes and later on “Black Leather” for the Prayers. She even hinted at laying down tracks for her own album, but that venture has been put on hold due to other opportunities like her blossoming personal life.
Ending her four-year marriage to tattoo artist Oliver Peck in 2007, Kat spent a few years playing the field and dated Motley Crüe bassist Nikki Six before announcing her engagement to West Coast Choppers CEO Jesse James in January 2011. The tattooed pair never made it down the aisle, however, as Kat turned her attention to Canadian music producer Joel Zimmerman, who proposed via Twitter in November 2013. Kat accepted his proposal but, once again, the romance was short-lived as they ended their relationship months later.
Over the next five years, Kat buried herself in her work as she covered herself in tattoos ranging from a portrait of her mother to emblems of bands like ZZ Top, AC/DC, and Guns N Roses. “I really like the idea of dedicating myself fully to something and I have no problem doing that,” Kat said of her commitment to her work. However, that has since changed after her collaboration with the Prayers on “Black Leather” when she met and fell in love with Rafael Reyes, a Mexican artist and musician better known as Leafar Seyer. After a brief courtship, the couple exchanged vows on February 21, 2018 and, on May 8, 2018, announced they were expecting their first child—a son named Leafar—later in the year.
Apart from her growing family, Kat’s hard work and commitment to her career has certainly paid off especially after she celebrated the 10th anniversary of Kat Von D Beauty in mid-2018. So, what does that mean for the line? “There is a long view in my approach to business but, creatively speaking, I'm just getting by one day at a time,” Kat said of the company’s future. “I could rattle off a long list of upcoming products that will blow your mind (which we have), but I think the best answer to your question would be: in the next 10 years, KvD Beauty will be standing for the same value we’ve stood for in this past decade. Until all the cages are empty, we will boldly stand on the frontlines to fight against animal cruelty and animal testing.”
As for upcoming products and where life has taken her, the 36-year-old tattoo artist, musician, and television personality says there’s plenty in store thanks to her creative juices and the help of her husband. “We will be launching an entire eyeliner collection that is going to revolutionize eyeliner, including the most bulletproof matte liquid eyeliner in an array of colors… also a new mascara formula, two new foundation formulas, as well as the long-awaited Lolita palette,” she says. As for her husband’s help, Leafar’s lips have been the talk of the town since the 10th anniversary party for KvD Beauty. “Unlike myself, Leafar has the most perfectly symmetrical lips and has been gracious enough to let me use him as a lip swatch model, which isn’t a far stretch considering he wears lipstick anyway,” Kat says. “But, speaking of lipstick, Leafar had the genius idea of creating a lipstick that we designed together to give away at our wedding ceremony for our friends and family!”
Now, with the news of Kat’s pregnancy, her fans can’t wait to see how motherhood inspires her creativity and what that might mean for future beauty products and business ventures. Of course, fans are also waiting on Kat’s debut music album, which she just might make time for in the coming years!