Dixon: Many people may not know that you were originally born in Mexico; did that have any effect on your career path?
Kat: Yeah, most people think I'm just a white girl from California. But in reality my family is from Argentina, and I was born in Mexico, along with my brother and sister. Being born in Mexico didn't have any effect on my career path, but I definitely think it influences it today. I'm a big fan of Latin culture, and I think that affects my work for sure.
You have tattoos of Beethoven, how did that love of him come about? Are you into classical music?
I've been playing the piano since the age of 6, so I think it was natural for me to gravitate towards Ludwig van Beethoven. I mean, Beethoven was the punk rock composer of his time. People thought his music was satanic and evoked sin back then. My grandmother who was a famous pianist from Germany taught my brother and sister and I, and I think her fascination with Beethoven might have rubbed off on me. But aside from all that, being such a talented genius composer and being deaf at the same time is fucking amazing. His life story can be inspiring to anyone.
When was your first encounter with art and how did you discover tattooing?
Well, I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil. And my family has always been super supportive. My mother saved all my drawings since I was a kid. So when I was 14 years old I began tattooing. I had been hanging around with a bunch of punk rock kind of who all had tattoos. And one of them had been tattooing out of his house unprofessionally for quite some time and asked me one day to tattoo a misfit's skull on him. After my first tattoo I was sold. Been tattooing ever since and couldn't imagine my self doing anything else!
You did your first tattoo with a homemade machine, how did you put that together?
My first tattoo machine was homemade, and this kid put it together for me. I am the most non mechanically inclined person I know. So I wouldn't know how to rig something up like that. I think that's the department that I'm a total "chick" in. But I have been learning a lot more about that stuff lately. I tattooed with a homemade machine for the first year of my career, but once I got my first professional machine everything changed. I got into my first tattoo shop at the age of 16 and had to unlearn a lot of things that I missed out on because of a lack of an apprenticeship.
What is it about Los Angeles that you love so much and what draws you there?
Los Angeles is wonderful! Its a very magical place. But aside from the obvious, we have some of the best weather, the beaches, the desert, the mountains and the city, all within half an hour! There is so much art in LA, and so much diversity. So much music, nightlife, fashion, culture and subculture. And I think the fact that its so close to Mexico makes me happy. Mexico I think is a huge influence for me. There's no other place where you see such a prominent Mexican culture. You see it in everything from fashion to murals on walls, to the way low riders look. Its amazing!
Why do you prefer black and grey tattooing?
I think my brain just works on a black and grey level. I mean, I still do color every now and then on friends. but last year I decided I only will be able to do so many tattoos on my lifetime that I'd rather focus on the things I want to perfect, which is black and grey. Plus, black and grey tattoos always look so classic.
What is it like being Bam Margera's personal tattoo artist and how did that relationship come about?
I met Bam through our mutual friend Ville Vallo, (singer of HIM). Him was in town in Hollywood recording Love Metal and Vile was referred to me for a tattoo. We met up at the Rainbow, my favorite bar in Hollywood, and Bam happened to be in town as well. So after a few nights of partying, Bam and I became good friends, I ran into him in Finland, tattooed him there, and the rest is history. I love tattooing Bam! He usually comes up with the funniest shit to get tattooed, and gives me free range to do whatever the hell I want. Its always fun.
Who are some of your influences?
Artistically, I'd have to say my main influences are all the great masters of course, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Caravaggio especially. But as far as modern day artists, I love Michael Hussar, Banksy, and whoever did the Slayer's Divine Intervention album cover.
You work in Miami, LA and Texas, does all this traveling take a toll on you?
Man! I don't even consider it traveling anymore. Its just commuting to me now. I could be anywhere in the world and it just feels like another day at the airport, another hotel room, another room service menu. Its been way too long since I've actually traveled for fun! but now that I'm done filming in Miami, I wont be returning for the 3rd season if there is one, and that will give me more time to spend at home in Los Angeles. My husband is from Dallas, Texas, so we have a house out there, but I rarely find the time to get out there.
How do you manage a long waiting list?
Since we just completed filming the second season, we are starting to book appointments again, but I usually wont book for more than 2 months. Once I'm booked for that long, I'll stop taking appointments, until I catch up. There's nothing worse than feeling tied down, so I try to never get booked longer than that.
What's it like being a woman in a male dominated field, does it present challenges or open doors?
Well, its a manly man's world. I think most careers are male dominated, maybe not as much as tattooing, but none the less, I have always tried my hardest to let my work speak for itself, instead of being judged on my gender. But that's always hard. There will always be people who doubt your ability based on whether your male or female, but fuck them. I have no time or energy to deal with people like that. You either like my work or you don't.
Have you ever had an apprentice?
No, and I promised myself I would never either. I feel like this is an oversaturated industry. Everyone and their mom want to become tattooers nowadays, and it's just not how its supposed to be! I always find it so strange when parents come up to me and tell me how much they want their daughter to start tattooing, and I'm like, really? Why would you want to put your kid through that? I saw a lot of shit I probably shouldn't have growing up. I'd rather these kids just stay in school, if you know what I mean.
What's it like to live the rock and roll dream and tour around the world with bands doing tattoos and spreading your art?
Its an amazing lifestyle and one that I have chosen. My husband, Oliver and I don't have any kids, and will never, so I think it works. We are pretty free spirited and kind of do the whole, "do whatever you want, whenever you want" thing. Being able to travel and meet great people, and be appreciated for what you do, you just can't beat that. I think some of our favorite tattoos are ones we have collected throughout our travels.
Are you fully self taught or is there some kind of professional tattoo school you attend?
Fuck tattoo schools. Those are just ignorant assholes trying to steal kids money by promising them some type of future in tattooing. Apprenticeships are the way to go, but very hard to come by taught from any decent artist. I personally did not go through either, and consider myself self taught, but I sure had to learn lots of things the hard way. But I think I was quite lucky and smart in surrounding myself around great artists who helped me out a lot, and learn from getting tattooed by them.
For a person who has many tattoos you still have troubled being tattooed, why go through the pain? Is it cathartic?
Getting tattooed sucks! And I'm being honest! That shit hurts! And I'm not quite sure how I got this far! Probably with the help of my buddy, patron. I love having tattoos, but I think the more you get and the older you get, your pain tolerance gets pretty low. Plus, you get done with all the easy parts like your arms, and then next thing you know you're getting the back of your knees tattooed, and anyone who says this shit doesn't hurt is a fuckin liar!
Have you ever had a brush with God, had an alien encounter or seen a ghost or had a supernatural experience?
Maybe on Acid.
Interview by: Dixon Christie, PunkTV.ca