Grazia met the most famous tattoo artist in the world. That after writing on the body of postars of Beyoncé's caliber, he decided to leave his mark on everyone else's face too …
On Instagram he has nearly 6 million followers and his Facebook page is followed by more than 12 million people. Few people still know her in Italy, but start to keep her name in mind, Kat Von D (short for Katherine von Drachenberg), because more and more of her will be talked about. Difficult to define: musician, tattoo artist, designer, entrepreneur, make-up creator, television personality, environmentalist, champion of animal rights, painter. And the list could go on, but one thing is certain: Kat is a very powerful influencer. In Italy it is launching, exclusively with Sephora, a line of tricks signed and designed by her in detail according to three principles: long-lasting, high pigmentation and extreme coverage. It will be on sale from 8 April (already online and in Milan, in the Sephora flagship store in Corso Vittorio Emanuele). Kat, 34, lives in Los Angeles but is of Argentine and Mexican descent. Yet when as a child she ran barefoot in the streets of Montemorelos, an agricultural center of 50,000 inhabitants in northern Mexico, she certainly could not have imagined that she would become a model for millions of girls. And she still struggles to realize it today: I meet her in Milan, fiery red dress and mouth, fishnet stockings, heel 12, an unmistakable distinctive feature on her face: tiny stars tattooed next to her right eye, which she further retouching with her Tattoo Liner, an eyeliner with a very thin tip for creating precise designs such as tattoos.
«I'm going back to Milan after a long time. I came here when I was 18: a journey that moved me very much,”she tells me. «To buy the ticket I had had to save for months: but I absolutely wanted to participate in an international gathering of tattoo artists. At that time, we women in the sector were still very few ». Today, however, his laboratory, the High Voltage Tattoo in Hollywood, has become a cult destination. His clients include pop stars Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and actors Jared Leto and Ewan McGregor.
How was your career as a tattoo artist born?“When I was 14, I got the letter 'J' from James, my first boyfriend, tattooed on my ankle. I have always loved drawing and I started working as a tattoo artist ».
How did your parents react?“They weren't happy, I was 16. As a child they always encouraged me to draw, but they disapproved of tattoos, they were against their education as Christian missionaries of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
What relationship do you have with your fans?«I don't like to use the term 'fan': there are fewer differences between me and them than it seems. As a girl, for example, I wasn't very popular at school, but I had a voice that wanted to be heard. " She has also become an entrepreneur.
What is make-up for you? “It's a way of feeling like a woman. It means waking up in the morning and playing with colors, make-up and creating a look that reflects what you feel inside yourself. It means having fun and not always taking yourself seriously ».
How did the idea of creating the Kat Von D Beauty line come about?“I was part of the cast of Miami Ink, a very popular reality show in the United States, which featured a tattoo shop. I worked on set from morning to night and needed makeup that lasted hours. Many viewers wrote just to know what lipstick I used. From there the collaboration with Sephora was born ». What emotion do perfumes arouse?“They can make you feel sexy, but they can also bring back important memories. They are like music: sometimes you only listen to it because you miss a few moments ».
He has been collecting his drawings since he was 6 years old. He also partially published them in his book High Voltage Tattoo. How was she as a child?“I was not afraid. I was born in Mexico, in a small town that often flooded after the rains. The frogs came out of the pools of water: I collected them and took them home. They came out of my clothes at the dinner table. People loved me for this too, I was different from others: I was always disheveled, but also excited by anything ».
They say she has an unconventional charm. What is beauty for you?"Barbie, for example, is a cute doll, but I'm not interested in that kind of canon. I believe there is more beauty in what is imperfect, because it is more real. I don't follow trends just to win the approval of others ".
From an artistic point of view, where do you find your inspirations?"Everywhere: in architecture, in a song, in a love story, even in animals. I once accidentally stepped on the tail of one of my two cats, gave a terrifying scream and ran away in pain. He returned after two months. He didn't need my forgiveness, he understood my mistake and we were happy together again. This made me reflect: I thought I would never be like him ».
She also loves music very much. Will we see her perform on the stage of a large theater?"I'm working on an album that should come out at the end of the year. I will also do a tour: I can't wait. I learned to play the piano at the age of 5 and I practice one or two hours a day. One of the reasons I feel homesick is that I can't do it here. '
You once said: "My heroes would not be considered heroes by others." Because?“I find the heroic side of some characters despite their frailties. For example, I am a huge fan of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who had many qualities. He was strict and determined: he was going deaf, but that didn't stop him from composing wonderful music. On the other hand, he was an alcoholic and could not manage social relations. Singer Édith Piaf is also a woman I admire: she managed to be successful despite not reflecting the traditional canons of beauty. His talent and his work have overcome every stereotype ».
Tell us about the lesser known Kat Von D: what do you like to do at home? Shopping, cooking, cleaning?“I don't do any of this: my mom was a housewife and I developed a kind of phobia towards household activities. My friends make fun of me because I am a freak of healthy and vegan food, but in the kitchen I am a disaster ».
Tidy or messy?“I'm obsessively tidy, because I don't want to waste time looking for things. For the same reason I hate the superfluous: I only buy the things I really need ».
She is a champion of animal rights, she does not eat meat for ethical reasons, her tricks are vegan. Where does this ethical commitment come from?“Growing up among religious, as it happened to me, was important: we could not eat pork or fish without scales, we had to respect the Sabbath, the sacred feast of Saturday. In such a harsh environment, I studied the Bible. At 12, I had already read it twice. Today I am not religious, I distrust the interpretations that manipulate it, but I have a lot of respect for the true, profound message it contains. For me it is still an important reference. When I think of climate change, for example, Noah's Ark comes to mind: it is a metaphor for what is likely to happen today ".