To say Kat Von D is the most famous tattoo artist in the world is no understatement. With 5 million Instagram followers and 20 years in the business, she’s got a ton of musical clients under her belt and the first tattoo she ever gave was a tribute to goth-punks Misfits. In 2008 she started her own cosmetics range featuring lippy and eyeliner named after the metal-loving tattooist’s favourite musicians, from Judas Priest to Motorhead, and it’s finally arrived in the UK. While Kat was on these shores to launch her line, NME spoke to her about some of her most famous customers – including her bestest buddy, the late, but oh so very great Lemmy.
“I tattooed Lemmy three or four times. I love Lemmy – I was thinking that that should be my next tattoo. I haven’t got any new tattoos in a while. It’s strange because I understand death, it’s a topic I talk about so often but when he died… it still fucks me up a little bit, so I don’t know if I’m ready to get the tattoo just yet but I think eventually I will. There are very few people that I ever felt connected to or that understood me in any way and we had a deep great connection. I was in awe of what a gentleman he was. I remember he kissed my hand the first time I met him. He knew how to write in calligraphy, he was obviously a poet and he was actually a really good artist too – he used to draw and doodle a bunch. The first tattoo I did on him, he wanted me to redo both of his tattoos on his forearms so we did the Ace Of Spades first. Then before he passed he got this old engraving from the 1500s. It was this really strange medieval mermaid-man thing. I kept the line-drawing.”
“He’s amazing. I’ve known Dave for years – we just have mutual friends. We knew each other for a few years before I actually tattooed him. He’s got one of my favourite tattoos [I’ve ever done] on his forearms. He has these black raven feathers – it just looks so nice. I remember he texted me a photo of him with his arms up like a pyramid. It’s such a beautiful composition on him. It suits him and his personality. Anybody who ever meets him will tell you he’s the nicest guy in rock and roll.”
“I just did a little rose on her hip a long time ago. I’m kind of dumb when it comes to pop stuff – I don’t know much about that kind of stuff. I just know that she was really sweet and nice and sat really well!”
Billie Joe Armstrong
“I love Billie. I met him through tattooing so we did almost like a half sleeve on him, and I tattooed Tre [Cool, Green Day drummer] as well. I just saw Billie Joe a few months ago – we’ve both working on this thing called Project Chimps, it’s chimp sanctuary volunteering. So we spent, like, a couple days with him and his wife. He’s just a great guy. Their new album’s gonna kill it.”
Kat Von D Beauty is available at debenhams.com