Kat Von D, 26, is one of the most respected and sought-after tattoo artists in the world. She's also the star of TLC's new series L.A. Ink, a spin-off of Miami Ink, which Kat was featured on for two seasons. Premiering Aug. 7, L.A. Ink centers on High Voltage Tattoo, the new tattoo shop Kat opened in West Hollywood, Calif.
Playing by her own rules, Kat Von D lives a fast-paced, rebel lifestyle. Hers is a life of freedom: she sets her own schedule, picks her clients, sleeps late and parties all night.
A true L.A. woman, Kat finds her inspiration in the City of Angels. Whether she's partying at the hottest bars and clubs or checking out bands, Kat is constantly finding interesting ideas for her art. Through her active lifestyle she's forged close friendships with and often tattoos several of the actors, athletes and rockers who live in L.A. Celebrities who have flocked to Kat for her signature fine-line, black-and-gray life-like portraits include Eve; Jackass' Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn and Steve-O; rockers Slayer, My Chemical Romance and Green Day; and professional skater Mike Vallely.
While Kat has lived most of her life in Los Angeles, she was born March 8, 1982, in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Kat's family moved to the United States when she was 4, settling in Colton, Calif. Her father and mother were born in Argentina, though her father's family origins were German and her mother's was Spanish-Italian.
Kat is close with both her parents and her siblings, however; it was her paternal grandmother, a professional pianist in Germany, who turned Kat onto the arts. Pushing Kat to take piano lessons, her grandmother introduced her to some of the great composers, including Beethoven, whose work Kat immediately fell in love with. This encounter in turn led Kat on a never-ending journey to discover other composers, painters and sculptors from that time period.
As Kat became a teenager, she was exposed to punk rock music and became immersed in its culture. At age 14 she got her first tattoo, an old English "J" on her ankle, a memento of a love gone-by. Shortly thereafter, Kat did her first tattoo. She tattooed a Misfits skull, representing one of her favorite bands, onto one of her friends. Ironically, she ended up tattooing one of the original members of the Misfits a few years later.
By age 16 she was hooked and working at tattoo shops in and around Los Angeles. A few years later Kat was at True Tattoo in Hollywood, working alongside notable artists like Clay Decker and Chris Garver - who brought her down to Miami Ink. There, she further honed her signature style, developed her hard-core following and came into her own as an artist.
Tattoos aren't just everything to Kat Von D, they are her life.